The “Just for Converts” series focuses on LDS quotes and stories that are well-loved, but don’t get shared a lot online because longtime members have already them enjoyed them many, many times, and folks tend to share new or novel posts more.
As a new convert, you have felt the still small voice as you learned of the gospel and prepared for baptism. You now have the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost as you strive to keep the commandments and move forward in the Gospel. One way we remain worthy to receive guidance and personal revelation from the Lord is to never ignore or postpone the promptings of the Spirit.
President Boyd K. Packer taught in his October 2009 talk, Prayer and Promptings, how we might experience promptings—
That sweet, quiet voice of inspiration comes more as a feeling than it does as a sound. Pure intelligence can be spoken into the mind. The Holy Ghost communicates with our spirits through the mind more than through the physical senses. This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings through promptings and impressions. We may feel the words of spiritual communication more than hear them and see with spiritual rather than with mortal eyes.
Promptings can be very clear, urgent, and strong. They can also be so subtle that we might wonder if it is the Spirit or just us. We can take comfort in the counsel of Elder Ronald A. Rasband from his April 2017 talk, Let the Holy Spirit Guide—
We must be confident in our first promptings. Sometimes we rationalize; we wonder if we are feeling a spiritual impression or if it is just our own thoughts. When we begin to second-guess, even third-guess, our feelings—and we all have—we are dismissing the Spirit; we are questioning divine counsel. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that if you will listen to the first promptings, you will get it right nine times out of ten.
Alone in a wheelchair at the deep end
President Thomas S. Monson had a strong testimony of never postponing a prompting. He shared a touching story about this during his April 1985 talk, The Spirit Giveth Life. President Monson’s friend, Stan, was is the hospital. The athletic, healthy man’s busy life had taken a tragic turn, and now he was partially paralyzed. Stan had fine doctors and prayers of faith offered on his behalf by many family and friends, but he remained bedridden and very ill. His spirits sunk so low, lower than President Monson realized, but it wasn’t unseen by Heavenly Father.
One afternoon President Monson was swimming laps at Deseret Gym when these thoughts entered his mind: “Here you swim almost effortlessly, while your friend Stan languishes in his hospital bed, unable to move. Get to the hospital and give him a blessing.”
President Monson immediately stopped swimming and headed to Stan’s hospital room, only to find an empty bed. A nurse explained that he was down by the hospital pool, preparing for physical therapy. When President Monson neared the area, he found Stan all alone, sitting in his wheelchair by the pool. President Monson talked with his friend, and followed the prompting to give Stan a priesthood blessing,
After that night, Stan slowly began to regain his health. Eventually, he recovered from his illness and learned to walk again. Stan, with health restored, would speak in Church meetings and bear testimony of God’s love. At times, Stan shares how deep his despair was when President Monson found him that day, sitting at the edge of the deep end of the hospital therapy pool. Stan had been considering how easily he could end his life. All he would need to do is propel himself, wheelchair and all, into the deep water. In his weak and paralyzed state, this quick motion would ensure his death. Right at that moment, as he pondered this dark thought, his dear friend President Monson was suddenly at his side.
President Monson would go on to say—
That day Stan learned literally that we do not walk alone. I, too, learned a lesson that day: Never, never, never postpone following a prompting.
We don’t always understand why
The promptings we receive might not always be something we can accomplish in one evening by visiting a sick friend. Sometimes a prompting will encourage us to learn a new skill, or take our lives in a direction we hadn’t been considering. Sister Carol B. Thomas was a counselor in 2 Young Women general presidencies. She shared this personal story in her April 1999 General Conference talk, Preparing Our Families for the Temple.
Many years ago I was walking into the temple and in my mind I heard the words, Learn public speaking. I thought to myself, When will I ever have need for public speaking? Over several months’ period of time I tried very inadequately to conjure up some enthusiasm to obey the prompting I had received. I even checked out a tape from the local library by a public speaker who admitted that his goal was to someday speak in the Mormon Tabernacle. I thought at the time, I’ll never be speaking in the Tabernacle!
Between 1998 and 2002, Sister Thomas spoke in general conference 7 times, and 3 of those talks were indeed in the Tabernacle. The other 4 times were in the much larger Conference Center that seats 21,000 people. She never imagined all those years before her calling that someday she would be speaking to such a large crowd, and broadcast live to millions more. The Spirit was right; she indeed needed to learn a thing or two about public speaking.
Prophets have regrets, too
Perhaps you have already ignored or lacked the courage to act on a prompting or two. Perhaps you’re reading this post and feeling so bad about it. Please don’t be too discouraged, but follow the example of several apostles who learned from their mistakes.
President Marion G. Romney was an apostle from 1951 to 1988. He served in the First Presidency for many years. He shared this account during his talk in April 1975—
[W]hen I was in Australia on a mission. I went up to visit the Jenolan Caves—very wonderful, spectacular caves. And as we walked through them, the guide said, ‘If some of you will get out and stand on that rock over there and sing a song, it will demonstrate the capacity of this cave.’
Well, the Spirit said to me, ‘Go over there and sing “O, My Father.”‘ I hesitated, and the crowd walked on. I lost the opportunity. I never felt good about that. The only thing that ever made me feel the Lord had forgiven me was when I heard President McKay say, ‘I was inspired one time to do a certain thing when I was in the mission field, and I didn’t do it.’ He said, ‘I have always been sorry since.’ He said, ‘Never fail to respond to the whisperings of the Spirit. Live so you can receive it, and then have the courage to do as it instructs.’
All talks in this post refer to talks given in General Conference that are available to watch or read at lds.org.