GCBC Week 3: “Personal Revelation and Testimony” by Sister Barbara Thompson

In April 2011, Sister Julie Beck said, “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.”  This is a theme that Sister Barbara Thompson builds upon in her talk.

Personal Revelation and Testimony by Sister Barbara Thompson

I really enjoyed going back and reading her talk; I found it deeper than I had remembered it.  I liked her emphasis that revelation can come in many different ways and really depends upon our willingness to recieve it and live worthy of it.  I also loved this important reminder after the story about the WWII sister whose “testimony kept [her]”:

“Because we have a strong testimony doesn’t mean it will always remain that way. We must nourish and strengthen it in order that it will have sufficient power to sustain us.”

What are your thoughts after studying this talk?  Please share your insights in the comments.

To anyone who is checking out GCBC for the first time, the goal is to read one General Conference talk a week and discuss it together as an on-line “book club.”  If you want more information about how it works, go here.  And then join us.

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30 thoughts on “GCBC Week 3: “Personal Revelation and Testimony” by Sister Barbara Thompson

  1. The quote from the German sister very deeply touched me; I have thought about the many ways my testimony has kept me. Eliza R. Snow’s promise: ‘Tell the sisters to go forth and discharge their duties, in humility and faithfulness and the Spirit of God will rest upon them and they will be blest in their labors. Let them seek for wisdom instead of power and they will have all the power they have wisdom to exercise.’ gave me chills–all the power we have wisdom to exercise. What great blessings of spiritual power are being held in reserve, waiting for me to get wise?

    • I liked both of those quotes, too – and the same question has been on my mind lately. What blessings would my family receive if I was a wiser wife and mother?

    • “Tell the Sisters to go forth and discharge their duties, in humility and faithfulness and the Spirit of God will rest upon them and they will be blest in their labors” – This gives me so much comfort and I have often felt these exact feelings while serving in a difficult church calling that takes me WAY outside of my comfort zone. But I know when I take a step forward and take action in the name of my Heavenly Father he blesses me and inspires me as I move ahead. Very grateful for this!

  2. I thought this talk was beautiful. Very simple and to the point. The pattern for receiving revelation is not hard. It does require effort, but it is not hard. The hard part, I’ve found, is accepting the difficult growing opportunities that have come my way through personal revelation. The hard part is consistently applying the steps to achieve consistent spiritual outpourings. I have work to do.

  3. I loved that she gave us the “formula” to receive revelation. 1. Desire 2. Do not harden your heart 3. Ask in faith 4. Keep the commandments.
    I also loved the reminder that just because we have a strong testimony now, doesn’t mean that it will stay that way without nourishing it.

  4. As I heard Sister Thompson remind us to nourish our testimonies so they stay strong, I was reminded of these quotes from President Harold B. Lee: “Testimony is as elusive as a moonbeam; it’s as fragile as an orchid; you have to recapture it every morning of your life,” and “That which you possess today in testimony will not be yours tomorrow unless you do something about it. Your testimony is either going to increase or it is going to diminish, depending on you.” What a challenge! And yet it’s a do-able one. I also loved the “formula” Sister Thompson gave. Those simple steps are what make it possible to gain and keep a testimony.

    (You can find the quote sources, along with more of my thoughts, over here: http://neverboredwhispers.blogspot.com/2011/10/gcbc-sister-thompson.html)

  5. I thought this talk went so well with Elder Scott’s talk for some reason. I liked Sis. Thompson’s thoughts on revelation. She mentioned how she felt the spirit so strongly as she listened to conference back in college. It reminded that this process is life long and continual. There will be times when the revelation is stronger and more constant than others and that I need to keep doing the daily things that help me keep my testimony strong. It also amazed me how far technology has come. Where she had the radio, I have so many options to use for my scripture study and study of conference talks.

  6. I agree with Amy that this talk seemed like the perfect follow-up for E. Scott’s talk on scripture study. I appreciated Sis. Thompson reminding us that our testimonies are not static. We have to be actively involved in strengthening them and developing them.

  7. My Notes:

    – personal revelation is how we gain our testimony
    – personal revelation guides us (how do we know what to do in life without it?)
    – “have ye inquired of the Lord?” – have I?
    – to receive – desire to receive, not harden our hearts, ask in faith, diligently keep the commandments
    – study D&C 6
    – most often, it will come as we study the scriptures, listen to prophets, seek to live a righteous life – I need to do these things if I want revelation
    – be humble and faithful
    – seek for wisdom instead of power
    – seek guidance from the Holy Ghost
    – your soul is satisfied when you are filled with the Spirit (formula for contentment)
    – “It is our testimony, combined with our faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation which helps get us through these times of trial and hardship.”
    – “The testimony kept me.”
    – we must nourish and strengthen our testimony to keep it strong
    – sometimes the Spirit is so delicate that we may not be conscious of it – to me, that means I need to be more aware of everything around me and in me – the Spirit isn’t going to yell messages to me

  8. I especially enjoy listening to Sister Thompson; when I read her talks, I can actually hear her voice. I met her in Nov of last year; she and other General Presidency leaders spoke to the auxiliary presidencies and then to the RS of both stakes here. During her talk in Nov, she mentioned that she had been in West Berlin when it was still West Berlin….afterwards I asked her when she was there….it was just a year or two prior to my family being there. Granted, we were not members then, but still…it was cool to think our paths almost crossed. And we have a shared experience.

    Anyway, about her conference talk:
    I truly enjoyed her formula for receiving revelation. It doesn’t get much simpler than that–Desire, Soft Heart, Faith, Belief, and keep the commandments. The hard part is her next statement: “….if we diligently keep the commandments and ask in faith, answers will come in the Lord’s own way and in His time.”

    I also like that she explained the different ways we feel personal revelation:
    –enlightening of the mind
    –peace to the mind
    –tell you in your heart and mind
    –bosom shall burn
    –fill your soul with joy

    And the way it comes:
    –scripture study
    –counsel of prophets and other leaders
    –living faithful, righteous lives
    –music
    I had a moment of revelation that came during a hymn. In Feb, at the height of my realization that my marriage was over, I was desperate to know that the decision I had made was the right one. During the opening song of RS, the second verse of “The Spirit of God” gave me my answer. The line “Be safe through inspiration’s power” reduced me to tears; I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t speak, I was shaking…..but I felt such peace and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had done the right thing. Doesn’t mean that life has been rosy since then…but I know the decision was the one. needed for my family’s survival.

    And then as has been mentioned, “Let them seek for wisdom instead of power and they will have all the power they have wisdom to exercise.” Wow…..

    • I love that you listed out the ways we feel personal revelation and the way it comes. They were in there, I read them, but seeing them in a list makes it that much more memorable. This would be a great exercise in a class if this talk were being studied.

    • I was kind of making a mental list of the ways I feel the promptings of the Spirit and personal revelation as I was reading through Sister Thompsons talk . . . I think I tend to frequently experience one or two ways most of the time. It would be interesting to add to her list. I seldom have an experience so profound but in one instance I distinctly heard the Spirit in my mind call me by name and whisper some very specific words of council that were exactly what I needed to hear in my life at the time. Usually the Spirit is much more subtle, but I appreciated the directness of the promptings at that time and the difference the words have made in my life.

  9. I already commented, but I wanted to add something that I struck me as I read the talk this morning again. Sis. Thompson is talking about Lehi teaching his family the gospel and that Nephi sought the guidance of the Lord to more fully understand the teachings of his father and that he was able to know these things of his father were true because of revelation. I have been struggling with some parenting issues and this hit me so hard – how important it is to be a true person for myself and my children. The first verse in 1st Nephi says “I, Nephi, being born of goodly parents therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father…” One of things Lehi taught his son was the importance of how to receive revelation, receiving the revelation with a humble heart and and acting upon revelation. Lehi was such a wonderful model of a father and prophet. I need to ponder and think on this one more – there have been so many wonderful talks about revelation. I love Sis Beck’s thoughts on it.

    And now I’ve written enough. Thanks!

  10. I have already commented once, but I find that I have more to say too. I’ve been reading and listening to this talk over and over this week as a part of my scripture study time. I’ve been reading the comments that have been posted and thinking about everyone else’s insights and I’ve found so much more in this talk that applies to me than I originally saw the first time. Thank you everyone who has read the talk and commented on it. I love studying this way.

  11. This talk has given me so much to ponder on. when she said that challenges would make us aware of how much we need divine direction I couldn’t help but cast my mind back on those instances, which helped strengthen my resolve to do what we have planned as a family even though it’s hard. This was an unexpected blessing. I am so grateful for General Conference and for this Book Club for that very reason-the unexpected blessings gained from studying, and studying as a group seems to compound those blessings, at least for me anyway.

  12. I think the quote “Let them seek for wisdom instead of power and they will have all the power they have wisdom to exercise.” must have been what a lot of us needed to hear. What a powerful statement!

    I am glad Sister Thompson reminded me that I need to make sure and keep my testimony strong so that my testimony can keep me. My testimony is probably the strongest it has ever been, but I know that all it could take are a few skipped prayers, letting my scriptures gather dust on the bedside table, and thinking more about worldly things rather than spiritual things for my testimony to quietly slip away. I really liked how Laura illustrated the concept and compared it to slowly getting accustomed to American chocolate again after several years of eating non-American chocolate. Before we know it, we could be testimony-less!

    It makes me want to focus even more on my testimony.

    More of my thoughts over at My Soul Delighteth

  13. As I listed to this talk, I wondered who was speaking as she felt the spirit witness to her. Not that it matters, but I was curious. The first thought I had was Elder McConkie’s final General Conference address (April 1985): “I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.”

    “Have ye inquired of the Lord?” Nephi’s statement to his older brothers is a good one to remember – in our own lives, of course, but what a thought-provoking question to pose to a spouse, a child, or someone else that comes to us for advice.

    I just finished reading Daughters in My Kingdom and loved that she used two excerpts – the Eliza Snow quote about seeking for wisdom and the WWII woman who said her testimony kept her. Both marvelous and I enjoyed reading the full passages in Daughters in My Kingdom today.

    I am really loving studying the talks this way and reading the comments!

  14. Such a great talk. I love when she said, “Let us PLEAD with the Lord to endow our mind and soul with the spark of faith that will enable us to receive and recognize the divine ministering of the Holy Spirit.” We don’t just offer a quick, thoughtless request. The experiences that Nephi, Alma, and others had came as a result of pondering and listening. I know I need to spend more time really listening for the answer–the first step in her formula is to really desire.

    I also loved how she said, “following this pattern does not mean every time we ask a question of God the answer will immediately appear with every detail of what to do.”

    I also appreciated her quoting that wonderful talk by Elder Bednar on receiving revelation. I particularly loved when he said, “Sometimes the spirit of revelation will operate immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it. But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, enlighten your understanding (see Alma 5:7; 32:28), and direct and protect you and your family.” (Such a wonderful thought to ponder)

    Thanks, Stephanie. I love doing this and especially love reading everyone’s thoughts.

  15. Sister Thompson explained why Nephi received revelation when Laman & Lemuel did not – he asked!! and also kept the commandments. She quoted President Uchtdorf, “Let us earnestly seek the light of personal inspiration. Let us plead with the Lord to endow our mind and soul with the spark of faith that will enable us to receive and recognize the divine ministering of the Holy Spirit.” I love the story of Sister Biereichel – “the testimony kept me.”

  16. I just finished reading Elder Bednar’s talk from April 2011 Conf, “The Spirit of Revelation”, which we are having a lesson on tomorrow in RS. I thought it went perfectly with this talk by Sister Thompson. I loved how he compared revelation to light – sometimes it comes all of a sudden like when we turn on a light switch, other times it is more gradual like the sun rising in the morning, and finally we may not perceive the light like on a cloudy day. I think if we were better able to recognize revelation we would be surprised by how much we really do receive.

  17. doing a little catch up here! I love all the talks about personal revelation…it seemed to be in quite a few articles in Ensigns that led up to conference as well. I really like the part that explained that revelation is received in different ways at different times. I have had dreams as well as quiet whisperings as answers to prayers. I have also had others be answers to my prayers (so glad they were listening to the Spirit)!

  18. Pingback: Tribute to Sister Julie B. Beck « Diapers and Divinity

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