Thursday, August 30, 2018

Elder David A. Bednar on maintaining the companionship of the Spirit

Elder David A. Bednar (born June 15, 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"In our individual study and classroom instruction, we repeatedly emphasize the importance of recognizing the inspiration and promptings we receive from the Spirit of the Lord. And such an approach is correct and useful. We should seek diligently to recognize and respond to promptings as they come to us. However, an important aspect of baptism by the Spirit may frequently be overlooked in our spiritual development.
"We should also endeavor to discern when we 'withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved' (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.
"The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us."
- David A. Bednar, "That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us," General Conference April 2006
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Learning to do the things that will bring the Holy Spirit into our lives is a key task of life. But Elder Bednar teaches that we must likewise learn to avoid doing the things that will drive that Spirit away from us. Each of these two aspects of our mortal experience is crucial to us, and he suggests that we sometimes don't give enough attention to the second part:

Joseph Smith taught beautifully about the process of bringing more spiritual influence into our life:
“A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.”
- Joseph Smith, discourse on June 27, 1839; see History of the Church, 3:381

The corollary, as Elder Bednar instructs, would be to be alert enough to notice quickly when the spirit of revelation declines or disappears from our minds and lives. As we become more sensitive and more observant to spiritual promptings, we can more easily "fine-tune" our actions to increase the spiritual influence we receive.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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