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Are Spiritual Promptings Real? Ways to Recognize Them

By Mormon.org
Meme: Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers from God. Neil L. Andersen

What is a spiritual prompting?

At some point in life, we find ourselves searching for answers—some big, others small. It’s easy to wonder if what you are feeling is an answer from God. And if it is from Him, how do you learn to recognize it as coming from Him and not your own mind?

God loves you and wants the best for you. Because of His love, He will prompt you to do things that will bring eternal happiness and allow you to live with Him again. A spiritual prompting is an impression from God to give direction to our lives.

Spiritual promptings are real, and although they can be challenging to discern, learning to listen to the Holy Spirit is like any other well-formed habit. It gets easier as we learn how the Holy Spirit speaks to us individually.

How do I recognize a prompting?

What does guidance from God look like? It can come in a variety of ways, including our thoughts and feelings.

In the New Testament, Paul teaches that“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22—23). The Holy Spirit speaks peace and goodness; however, negative emotions do not come from God.

Examining our thoughts can help us recognize promptings of the Holy Spirit. What are our thoughts inviting us to do? In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Mormon teaches that “every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God” (Moroni 7:13).

Simply put, promptings of the Holy Spirit help us become better people by inviting us to serve God and others. While guidance from God is not always clear, we can be sure that promptings that inspire us to become better are from God. Does the prompting draw you closer to God and His plan for you or closer to the world and your own plans?

Grand, momentous events are rare. More commonly, we are taught and receive direction through small, simple promptings. In moments of quiet reflection, the Holy Spirit can teach what to do. The Spirit speaks in a still, small voice. Promptings are said to sound like a whisper, which we might miss if we aren’t listening for them. Learn to listen for promptings. They can come through the words of scripture, through inspiring media, through heartfelt prayer, or through counsel from other people.

What do I do about promptings?

Spiritual promptings are tender mercies from God. They are special and are not always to be shared with others. Recording these promptings in a journal can help you recall them later and will strengthen your desire to follow Christ as you remember faith-building moments you have previously felt through promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, talking with ecclesiastical leaders or missionaries can help you understand the promptings you receive, but the best source for guidance is asking God through sincere, heartfelt prayer.