Poll: Promptings


I recently read a book with a main character who never had to make a decision based solely on his own mortal understanding, never experienced a life tragedy that he was not warned about through premonition, and who was frequently visited by an unseen voice that would prompt him to go to someone who needed him desperately right at that moment.

With each spiritual prompting he received, I became more and more peeved.  However, it occurred to me that I was being judgmental.  Just because the Holy Ghost doesn’t hang out with me, constantly whispering in my ear like a symptom of schizophrenia, doesn’t mean that other, more spiritually gifted people than myself don’t have these kinds of experiences.

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at aprilyoungb.com.

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12 Responses

  1. Mhana says:

    I chose the spirit is my constant companion more for the second half. I do feel prompted virtually every day, but it isn’t like you describe the book. I mean I don’t have premonitions about my life, or know grand reveletory truths about the afterlife or things like that. I also don’t feel spiritual ALL the time, so the “spirit is my constant companion” thing I think makes it seem like I always feel deeply spiritual. But I do feel like I receive promptings regularly. I often have thoughts come to my mind about what I need to teach my Young Women, or how I might reach out to them, and when I talk to the YW president I find that she has had many of the same feelings and thoughts. I often feel prompted to bring a treat or a gift to someone, or to stop by for a visit. I often feel the spirit when I work, I do feel like I have divine help as I work on my dissertation.

    That said, I also have come to realize that for me to feel like this I need to actively cultivate an atmosphere of the spirit. I try to listen to uplifting music when I jog in the morning, or read a conference talk or the scriptures or review my lesson. I know when I do that I tend to feel the spirit more during the day.

    I feel inclined now to make all sorts of disclaimers as one would in making a comment in Relief Society — I’m not THAT spiritual, I’m not trying to be self-righteous etc. etc. But there it is, that is my testimony. I do feel the spirit all the time, but I think most of my spirit-prompted deeds are quiet and not terribly flashy.

  2. Angie says:

    I answered “other.” My experience with revelation is this: I figure that my own thoughts and feelings ARE the revelation from God. Let me explain…

    I have a threshold moral code that I hold myself to: basically, the temple recommend questions. If I am paying tithing, being honest, attending church meetings, living the law of chastity and the Word of Wisdom, etc., etc., then I am at peace that my spiritual receptors are not clouded by immorality. I add to that prayer, scripture, and as much stuff that’s virtuous and of good report (media, conversation, fun activities, etc.). I’m not looking up to God to always give me the answer. In my experience, He won’t. So I move forward confidently, doing the best I can with what I know. When I need to make a course correction, I try to keep my mind open to God and apologize when needed.

    • Rita says:

      Where’s the ‘like’ button?

    • Well said, Angie. I like that a lot. I think making our own choices is one of the main purposes of being here, anyway. We can’t expect God or the Spirit to live our lives for us. I think that sometimes our promptings are not actually promptings but thoughts that come from being socialized in a specific culture. I don’t doubt, for example, that many women feel prompted to have a child or another child, but it might take effort to realize where that prompting is coming from. I’m currently compiling a book of essays from 12 Mormon women, and many of the essays address this cultural/theological pressure.

      Thanks for a great post, April!

    • Annie B. says:

      I totally feel the same way. I used to be constantly looking to my dad, or other church leaders (basically priesthood holders) and the ever elusive still small voice for the final word on *everything*. The only problem was, I never ever had any kind of a voice talk to me, and the positive feelings I had that prompted me to make certain choices were often overridden by my dad or church leaders saying “no, this is a better choice, do this”. So I really learned to not follow my own promptings, but to trust the promptings of someone else’s over my own.

      Now, I have much more trust in my own connection with God, and I realize that God didn’t put me here to learn how to be completely dependent on Him. He put me here, with everything I need to discern right from wrong for myself in the hopes that I will learn to be a good steward over myself, and learn from and love the people around me, allowing them to learn to be good stewards over themselves also. So yeah. I don’t ever get that “Go here and do this now” voice. And I haven’t ever gotten a “the church is true” or “the Book of Mormon is true” definitive answer. I have however had good feelings about certain principles. Just like the good feelings I have had reading “Little Women” or “The Hobbit”. So I take those good feelings for what they’re worth. I consider a principle confirmed as true once I’ve seen it work for good for myself or for those around me. I believe true principles are self-evident.

  3. KLC says:

    I live in a ward where, based on testimonies and lessons given, most everyone has the word of God on what to wear, what to eat and what to say every day of their lives. It’s very lonely for the rest of us.

  4. Rachel says:

    I have one friend who expects promptings similar to the ones you describe from a book. When she doesn’t get them, she berates herself for not being able to feel the spirit, and is often rendered so incapable of making any decision that she cannot even go forward. It always surprises me, because I guess I just don’t expect the spirit to speak that strongly to me. I have received strong promptings in the past, and hope to in the future, but the strong, distinct messages have been sparse. There have been one to two times where I felt words in my mind that were not in my voice, offering me counsel, and exactly one sacred dream. Everything else has been a feeling or a desire, sometimes clear, more frequently not. It may seem a little depressing, but (generally) allows me to make my own choices and go forward.

    God’s hand in my life is easy for me to see when I reflect on events that have transpired or people that I’ve met at certain times. When I remember to remember, I feel greater comfort that my future will be similarly providential.

  5. Annie B. says:

    Rachel I spent my life into early adulthood feeling much the way your friend does about the spirit; like I must not be good enough to receive answers, and that I might as well do what the people (church leaders) tell me to do because they have received definitive and unmistakeable answers. It was a crippling, horrible way to feel.

    I chose “other” for the reasons I stated above in my response to Angie’s comment. My promptings have never been clean cut voices or answers to questions that I had no other way of knowing the answer to. They have been affirmations and comforts– precious gifts. I’ve had two dreams that I consider sacred. One was a dream of comfort. In the dream, a baby was put into my arms and I woke up crying with happiness. This was several months after a miscarriage. I found out a little while later that I was pregnant again, so I would have been comforted soon enough by finding out I was pregnant again, which makes it all the more precious to me. The other is actually a series of dreams. In the first dreams I found an extra room attached to my house full of junk I had to sort through, old broken knick knacks, incomplete puzzles, broken toy cars, stacks and stacks of junk mail and papers. The dreams slowly evolved into finding a room, but bigger and full of things I could use if I cleaned them up like dusty reams of fabric, works of art like large pots and sculptures, and eventually the room was a large hall immaculate hall with beautiful woodwork and furnishings. The first of these dreams corresponded to the time when I was first questioning some of the LDS church principles, temple covenants and doctrine. By the time I had the last of the extra room dreams I had given myself permission to only accept the principles that the LDS church taught that made my life better and happier, and not force the ones that didn’t. Any other good feeling or prompting I’ve had has been either a comforting feeling after I’ve come out of the end of something tough, or realized I dodged a bullet by making a wise choice, or has been a good feeling about an observation I’ve made about some principle in my life, like God telling me “good job”.

  6. Annie B. says:

    Shoot. I didn’t mean to italicize that whole paragraph.

  7. Janna says:

    I definitely receive clear promptings and guidance from God regarding small and large choices. I welcome this support!

    I think back to the many times that had I relied on the guidance of others, including past bishops, how badly things could’ve turned out for me. Over the years, I have learned that the more I trust that “still small voice,” the better off I am.

  1. September 29, 2012

    […] (Ironically, this is just the kind of prompting I admitted that I never personally receive in a recent post.  It is fortunate that other women do receive such promptings during emergencies like […]

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