Gospel Q&A is a series from LDS Daily that strives to answer important gospel questions from readers. Today, we answer the question, “Do we really have the Spirit with us all the time?”
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I am going to answer this question with the assumption that worthiness is not an issue. We know that when we sin, place ourselves in situations where the Spirit of God cannot dwell, or repeatedly ignore promptings and revelation, then it will leave us.
However, what if we are doing our best to live a righteous life and keep our covenants? Will the Spirit always be with us then?
The simple answer is a resounding yes, but I imagine this question comes not just from wondering IF the Spirit will be with us, but HOW this promise is fulfilled in our daily lives.
The Promise of the Spirit
By receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and worthily partaking of the sacrament, we are promised that we “may always have His Spirit to be with [us].”
I believe and trust in a loving God that we can take Him at His word. If He says always, He means always. I believe this means that we have access to power, guidance, comfort, revelation, and warnings in accordance with the will of God. This promise is reiterated time and time again in scripture and promised by modern-day prophets.
How Do We Experience the Spirit?
In spite of this beautiful promise, we all can likely think of a time when we didn’t receive an answer to a prayer. We may have begged for comfort and felt abandoned. We may have faced an important decision, received no clear counsel, acted, and failed. Does this mean the Spirit wasn’t with us?
I don’t believe so. The Holy Ghost’s role isn’t to perfect our problems, help us avoid the very tests of mortality that will exalt us, or divine the answers to all our questions. He is a “constant companion” who keeps us intimately connected in our relationship with our Heavenly Parents and Jesus Christ.
It’s important to remember the many diverse ways in which we can experience the Spirit. It will look different for everyone. I believe, more than anything else, we will be warned of true impending spiritual danger. Everything else comes as we refine our connection to God and humble ourselves to God’s will. If we expect daily miraculous ministrations, it’s likely that we will be disappointed.
“Ultra-Sensitive Be Still Mode”
That isn’t to say we can’t experience the Holy Ghost in clear ways every single day. I think we just vastly underestimate what it takes to form that sort of connection. President Dallin H. Oaks once taught that “important conditions” for the fulfillment of the gift of the Holy Ghost are “not well understood.”
Because of mental and physical ailments, I struggle to feel the Spirit. I know what it’s like to feel a constant distance and ask this question if I can really have the Holy Ghost with me all the time. I’ve learned recently how important it is to be consistent and careful when seeking the Spirit. When I really looked at how I was using my time, I realized I wasn’t actually working very hard to get into what I call an “ultra-sensitive be still mode.” I was constantly distracted by technology. I prayed but jumped into bed as soon as I was done. I was running faster than I had strength, going to from work to activities to church meetings and back again. As much time as I thought I was giving God, it wasn’t quality time.
If you’re feeling like you don’t feel the Spirit very often, I’d invite you to focus on quality time with God. Here are a few things that have helped me:
- I started a prayer journal where each night I write down what I’m grateful for and what I need. I use this as a basis for my prayer. I then stay on my knees pondering on these things after my verbal prayer is done. I try to think of scriptures that can help. I write down inspiration and ask the questions again.
- I try to make time each day just for stillness. I turn off the TV and put my phone somewhere else. I often read my scriptures, but sometimes I just breathe quietly and ponder on my day. I try to just think about Jesus.
- I study what I really want to study, not what I think I should study. It makes me more excited and invested in the word of God.
- I am working to cut out media that may be “fine” but not worthy of my time. I listen to more gentle music.
In all things, I try to remember hearing the Holy Ghost often requires delicacy, tenderness, and quiet—something that isn’t easy to come by these days. Even when we think we’re doing all we can, I wager there might be more noise, disruption, and distraction, than we think.
Don’t Put God in a Box
Ultimately, I believe we may be closer to the Spirit than we could ever imagine. God uses so many beautiful, diverse ways to communicate with His children. Are we paying attention? Do we know how the Spirit speaks to us personally? Don’t limit God’s ability to reach you. Don’t dismiss those who serve you, the thoughts that come into your head, or the conscience that guides you. There will be times when you need to walk in the confidence of your own agency, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t being watched over. Keep watching and keep listening. The Lord will always reveal Himself to those that love Him.
Disclaimer: While all of our answers will use scriptures and/or words of modern prophets, we do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We don’t believe any of our answers are comprehensive.