Spiritual Things Cannot be Forced

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Boyd K. Packer

It is good to learn when you are young that spiritual things cannot be forced. Sometimes you may struggle with a problem and not get an answer.  What could be wrong? It may be that you are not doing anything wrong.  It may be that you have not done the right things long enough.  Remember, you cannot force spiritual things.      

Sometimes we are confused simply because we won't take no for an answer. On several occasions when a member has insisted that something be done his way, I have remembered that great lesson from Church history. 

I have said to myself in my mind: All right, Joseph, give the manuscript to Martin Harris.  Do it your own way and see where you get.  Then when you're confounded and confused, come back and we'll get you set on the course that you might have taken earlier if you had been submissive and responsive. Someone wrote:

With thoughtless and impatient hands
We tangle up the plans 
The Lord hath wrought. 
And when we cry in pain, He saith, 
"Be quiet, man, while I untie the knot." 
(Anonymous) 

Put difficult questions in the back of your minds and go about your lives. Ponder and pray quietly and persistently about them.

The answer may not come as a lightning bolt.  It may come as a little inspiration here and a little there, "line upon line, precept upon precept." (D&C 98:12). Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. 

And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration.  The promptings will be clear and unmistakable. You can learn now, in your youth, to be led by the Holy Ghost.

As an Apostle I listen now to the same inspiration, coming from the same source, in the same way, I listened to as a boy. The signal is much clearer now.

And on occasions, when it is required for His work, for instance, when we are to call members to high positions in the stakes, we can ask a question in prayer and receive an immediate, direct revelation in return. 

No message is repeated more times in scripture than the simple thought: "Ask, and ye shall receive." (D&C 4:7). I often ask the Lord for direction from Him.

I will not, however, willingly accept promptings from any unworthy source.  I refuse them.  I do not want them, and I say so.

Young people, carry a prayer in your heart always.  Let sleep come every night with your mind centered in prayer. 

Keep the Word of Wisdom.  Read the scriptures.  Listen to your parents and to the leaders of the Church.  Stay away from places and things that common sense tells you will interfere with inspiration. 

Develop your spiritual capacities.  Learn to tune out the static and the interference.  Avoid the substitutes and the counterfeits.  Learn to be inspired and directed by the Holy Ghost.

Follow the Beam

It has been many years, but I have not forgotten that as pilots in World War II we did not have the electronic equipment that we have today.  Our hope in a storm was to follow a radio beam. A steady signal, and you were on course.  If you moved to one side of the steady signal, it would break up to a "dit-da," the Morse code for the letter A. If you strayed to the other side of the signal, the beam would break up into a "da-dit," the Morse code signal for N.

 In stormy weather there was always static and interference.  But the life of many a pilot has depended on his hearing, above the roar of the engines and through all the static and interference, that sometimes weak signal from a distant airfield.

There is a spiritual beam, with a constant signal.  If you know how to pray and how to listen, spiritually listen, you may move through life, through clear weather, through storms, through wars, through peace, and be all right. 

Prayer can be a very public thing.  We teach you often about prayer, about the asking part. Perhaps we have not taught you enough about the receiving part. This is a very private, a very individual thing, one that you must learn for yourself.

Begin now, and as the years unfold before you, you who are very young, you will be led.  That still small voice will come to you, and then you can come to know as many, many of us have come to know, and as I bear witness, that the Lord lives. 

I know His voice when He speaks. I know that Jesus is the Christ, that He directs this Church, that He is close to it, that He directs His prophets and His leaders and His people and His children, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Boyd K. Packer, from his book That All May Be Edified, p. 13-15:


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