A while back I was a Primary President. Topic was on The Holy Ghost. I asked them to share with me a time they felt the Holy Ghost. I probed a little. If I said, “Do you believe in the Holy Ghost?” All the kids said yes. They had been taught what the Holy Ghost does. Teachers share with me an experience. She was in her 40s. She said, “When I was dating my husband and trying to decide if I should marry him. I had a wonderful feeling he was the one I was supposed to marry.” Haven’t you had a more current experience with the Holy Ghost.
Examples of 'Feeling the Spirit'
Joseph Smith goes to Sacred Grove.
Jonah swallowed by whale.
They don’t recognize they are having a prompting because they are expecting some big miraculous revelation. Most of you don’t know when you are getting a prompting either. If we don’t know when we are being prompted we have a hard time teaching them to recognize the promptings.
When I was a young man in high school, one of my passions was American football. I played middle linebacker. The coach worked the team hard, teaching us the basics. We practiced until the skills became natural and automatic. During one play against our biggest rival, I had an experience that has helped me over the years. We were on defense. I knew my assigned opponent, and as the play unfolded, he moved to my right into the line of scrimmage. There was a lot of noise from players and fans. I reacted as the coach had taught us and followed my man into the line, not knowing if he had the ball. To my surprise, I felt the ball partially in my hands. I gave it a tug, but my opponent didn’t let go. As we tugged back and forth, amid all the noise I heard a voice yelling, “Packer, tackle him!” That was enough to bring me to my senses, so I dropped him on the spot. "Finding Strength in Challenging Times" by Allan F. Packer Ensign April 2009
In practice he had learned the voice of the coach so when he got into the middle of the fight in the noise all around him, he picked out the voice of the coach and could hear the direction and follow it.
We have to teach them to pick out the voice of the Holy Ghost because they are living in such a busy world. We teach it to them when it’s quiet so they know what it sounds like.
How do you hear ?
Class member: It’s a thought.
Class member: Different for everyone…thought, goose bumps, voice.
Class member: Voice of the Spirit speaks through the voice of the conscience.
Class member: Thought, voice, prompting…you have to do this.
Class member: I don’t give credit to the spirit. They are coincidences.
Class member: Sometimes I have to quit being so stubborn.
Class member: Whether it’s your own thought or the Spirit if it is good you do it and then you receive more.
The Spirit will prompt us as a thought, but we rationalize it away. In this class you will have spiritual promptings. You need to write it down and think about it later.
"The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear." Boyd K. Packer October 1994 "Personal Revelation: The Gift, The Test, And The Promise"
It’s more of a feeling rather than a verbal paragraph. It’s a feeling that is a thought.
Class member: I feel momentum when I have those thoughts.
Class member: It’s the only voice in my head that is perfectly calm every time.
"The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape while eating a jalapeño pepper. Both flavors are present, but one completely overpowers the other. In like manner, strong emotions overcome the delicate promptings of the Holy Spirit." Richard G. Scott October 2009 "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance"
Class member: I would feel homesick. I started to realize that this isn’t where we were supposed to be. Some of it felt like we were just at home. We got really good at recognizing this is where we were supposed to be. If I can’t focus on something I need to be doing something different.
A lot of times when we are in major crisis we can recognize the spirit. Sometimes in our day to day we don’t hear it as well.
How do you teach your children to recognize the Spirit?
It starts with being able to teach them about feelings.
Class member: I have been thinking about this a lot this year. I have 5 kids under the age of 10. I was trying to think of a way to teach them about feelings. It takes time and experience to recognize and feel the Spirit. I don’t think as a child most of us are lucky to be in homes where the Spirit is there. We did a family night and talked about feelings. How does it feel to be scared? Angry? Hungry? They could list definitions of what they felt like. We described feelings that we have. Son had an experience and I followed up to help him realize that was a way for him to know.
Think about how you react. In the middle of the night…Johnny is screaming in his bedroom. You go into his bedroom. He says ‘mom I’m scared.’ The first thing out of their mouth is not validation of their feeling.
What we start to do is teach children that their feelings are bad. I am a bad person if I am scared in the middle of the night. Child thinks they are bad. As you learn it’s not safe to express your feelings you start to stuff them and you don’t share them. You eventually where you become desensitized to feelings that you have because you have stuffed them over and over.
If you have a sibling that says you are dumb for crying again, you feel like you can’t cry. The Holy Ghost is a feeling. It may be express in different ways, but it comes softly. If we don’t pay attention to it then it goes away.
Feelings are not bad. They are good. What we do with feelings can be bad or good, but having the feeling is neither bad nor good. The child should not feel demeaned because they have the feeling.
Johnny is scared of the monster. Take a breath. I understand that you are frightened and that’s ok. Validate the feeling and know that it’s ok. THEN you teach them what to do with the feeling. Let’s look under the bed. Do you want to look under there? I see your socks, shoes. Encourage them to come look and face their fears. Sing a song, pray, Monster Spray.
I can see that you are really angry with Johnny. What did he do? He took my doll. Why do you think he did that? Do you think maybe he is lonely? Maybe, but he can’t have my doll. What do you think we can do to help Johnny if he is lonely?
Asking questions in your best tool to help them resolve their problem!
Positive thought--> Positive feelings--> Positive actions--> Positive habits-->Celestial Character
But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.
Within 8 seconds of having a thought that thought becomes a feeling. If you have a positive thought within 8 seconds it starts to create feelings.
We try to get our children to change their actions. We are starting in the middle of the behavior. Stop hitting! That doesn’t work very often. They are still thinking how much they hate each other. If you want to change their actions you have to go back and change their thoughts. You control your thought. You control your feelings. Did he take away your agency to make you mad? NO. You chose to be mad. You had control over your thoughts and feelings and actions.
Agency we all have and that’s what makes us stand before the judgement bar as equals.
You and your husband have a discussion. You know he is wrong. He won’t admit he is wrong. You are angry because you want this to be your way because your way is the right way. Where are your thoughts? How come you can’t get it? Why can’t you see this? This is the right way and you are doing it the wrong way? What are your feelings towards your spouse. Anger. The next morning you get up and he goes to work. He focuses on work. You stay home and think about that all day. I should have said… I’m going to put it this way… What is happening to your feelings all day? A tsunami hits him when he walks in the door. He hasn’t thought about it all day. We are mad because it wasn’t important enough for him to think about that day. Change our thoughts. I need to stop and listen to his point of view. I need to focus on listening and his point of view and understanding. Are you angry? No you are thinking about him and not you. Your feelings become more charitable.
We have power over our feelings. If you are feeling frustrated with one of your kids or your husband change your thought about the situation. Look at it in a different light. Your feelings will change.
You have to help them calm down and listen. Spiritual things are difficult to teach because they aren’t tangible. They have to be taught differently. They have to be taught with patience and with experience. The only way a child can understand is to experience it. Your responsibility in teaching children is to create opportunities in your home to feel that Spirit. You have to take the initiative.
Class Member: We need to establish a relationship with our child so they can come talk to us. In my family that is something I had to set as a goal and work towards so when an opportunity presented itself. I could discuss it for her.
" Since it is the Holy Ghost who testifies of sacred truth, we can do at least three things to make that experience more likely for our families. First, we can teach some sacred truth. Then we can testify that we know what we have taught is true. And then we must act so that those who hear our testimony see that our actions conform with what we said was true. The Holy Ghost will then confirm to them the truth of what we said and that we knew it to be true." Henry B Eyring May 1996 "A Legacy of Testimony"
They have knowledge, not understanding. It’s not enough for them to have knowledge. We teach knowledge and leave it there. After we have taught, then we need to testify.
Start creating experience. Here are few ideas…. (Anything that Invites the Spirit)
In the car giggling—the Spirit isn’t just solemn. As a parent you stop and say, “You know how happy everyone is right now, that is the Spirit testifying how great it is to be a family.”
You lose your keys—I had the most amazing experience today. I lost my keys. I was so frustrated. I just knelt down and prayed and knew where they were.
1. Create the Experience
Conference talk….“Parents had planned big trips all summer long, he and his son were laying out looking at the stars. His sons favorite thing was laying out. The Spirit was there”
Opens up scriptures
Brings things to your memory
It’s not just to teach them not to steal. We funnel it to a limited thing. The Spirit is in everything and everywhere.
Children will disrupt the spirit by joking because they don’t know how to feel that. You know the Spirit was really powerful here we were all feeling it, but when we do something silly invites the spirit to leave. Being silly is ok, but only in the right time and the right place.
2. Teach Reverence
Our society has evolved to the point where no where is there respect for anything. We don’t respect the flag. We don’t respect the country. It’s joked about and demeaned. The president of our country is joked about. Everything has become more casual. Respect is not casual. It is a feeling towards sacred things. If your children are sitting in church with your arms folded are they being reverent? Maybe…maybe not. They need to have sacred feelings towards certain things. That is done as we teach them.
To teach reverence as parents….
"In today’s society, the standards of decorum, dignity, and courtesy are assailed on every side and in every form of media. As parents and leaders, our examples of respect for each other are critical for our youth and children because they are watching not only the media—they are watching us! Are we the examples we need to be?
Ask yourself these questions: Am I an example of respect in my home by the way I treat those I love the most? What is my demeanor during a sports event? If my child has a disagreement with a teacher, coach, or peer, do I listen to both sides of the issue? Do I show respect for the property of others as well as take care of my own? How do I respond to others with whom I disagree in matters of religion, lifestyle, or politics?" Margaret S Lifferth April 2009 "Respect and Reverence"
Children do not come to earth knowing reverence. They have to be taught reverence in love. It is a loving feeling. There should be respect. I understand and I know that we teach our youth disrespect by calling adults by a title.
Call them by a title…Mrs. Jones, Sister Smith, Aunt Jamie.
When they call their friends by their first name, but if they call them by the proper title they treat them differently. Start with respect of authority. You need to call him bishop. Miss Tracy. Put a title with it so it takes them out of peer group/buddy-buddy.
Class member: We just moved. Refer to them by your last name.
This was the easy stuff and you are having problems with it.
Step children—calling you by their first name..blended families are a little different. I think that’s ok.
The church building…the chapel is your children’s temple. We go to the temple. We have a certain decorum. The chapel is your children’s temple. It’s where they go to meet and worship God. We as parents make the church building an extension of the playground and allow them to run around uncontained all over the church. We need to teach our children reverence in the church. I have seen children walk in and out of sacrament meeting with their arms folded. Kids can play at home for an hour. They can sit through a meeting for an hour. Do you see the big hand on the way to primary you can go to the bathroom. We need to raise the bar or expect it of them.
We are social people. The chapel is not a place to socialize. We shouldn’t go in and start chatting to all the people in the church. As you enter the chapel doors we should be on time and sit down. Our children shouldn’t be going around saying ‘hi’ to everyone. The foyer is where you should socialize. We shouldn’t do it in the chapel.
Teach your children respect for the sacrament. Not coloring, eating cheerios, reading books. They can sit quietly during the sacrament. It is a trained thing. It is based on your expectations.
Class member: When my children were smaller, youngest 2. It was noisy. She gave a talk on reverence in church. As a Mom with 3 small children and thought…this is crazy. We practiced sitting for 20 minutes quietly. That was the time they changed their attitude towards the sacrament. They started listening to the speakers. They started getting things out of it. It’s your expectation. They run to the lowest level. They will always go to the lowest level.
I had 9 children under the age of 12 what did I do? When we have ward parties. We enjoy visiting with other people and we lose track of our other children. They are running up and down the halls and through the chapel. That is not ok. Do they have to sit right by your side with their arms folded? No. They need to be where you can see them and help them make good choices. I have been to good programs that you couldn’t here. Parents need to continue to parent. The church building doesn’t change into a playground.
Class member: That should also apply to mutual, activity days and scouts.
Class member: Because the church is still the church, I have no problem stopping someone else’s kids in the church holding the accountable and raising their expectations. Other adults need to reinforce their children.
Teach our children respect for the office of the President. If we don’t like their policies we need to get involved and change them through voting.
3. Keep The Sabbath Day Holy
We need to work hard to create a feeling that day that coincides with a feeling of reverence. It should feel differently in our home. Go to church. Go home and have a day better than any other day. Most Sundays don’t feel that way especially with little children.
Things you should be thinking about doing….
Those things that make your family feel bonded
Love the Savior
Love each other.
Don’t focus on the “I can’ts”. It creates a negative feeling.
- Super Star Treats—special treats for Sunday. Something fun and extra. Made them want to do well during church.
- 8 years old…they got the shoe boxes and let them start scrapbooking their life.
- Special box of activities—puzzles, games, playdough
- Big bag of dressups. Role play bible stories
- Go online and find good ideas
It’s not a day of rest for Mom’s. Dividends are powerful if you are willing to pay the price. They will reflect your feeling about it.
Class member: I have learned at church when there are special church books only on Sunday makes a huge difference. Those activities that can only be used on Sunday.
By the time your children are 8 they shouldn’t need anything in church on Sunday. Everyone talks about what one speaker said. Give them a notebook to write about what they are saying. Challenge them to step up.
I learned of this at the funeral service of a noble General Authority, H. Verlan Andersen. A tribute was paid to him by one of his sons. It has application wherever we are and whatever we are doing. It is the example of personal experience.The son of Elder Andersen related that years earlier he had a special school date on a Saturday night. He borrowed from his father the family car. As he obtained the car keys and was heading for the door, his father said: “The car will need more gasoline before tomorrow. Be sure to fill the tank before coming home.”
Elder Andersen’s son related that the evening activity was wonderful. Friends met, refreshments were served, and all had a good time. In his exuberance, however, he failed to follow his father’s instruction to add fuel to the car’s tank before returning home.
Sunday morning dawned. Elder Andersen discovered the gas gauge showed empty. The son saw his father walk back into the house and put the car keys on the table. In the Andersen home, the Sabbath day was a day for worship and thanksgiving, and not for purchases.
As the funeral message continued, Elder Andersen’s son declared, “I saw my father put on his coat, bid us good-bye, and then walk the long distance to the chapel, that he might attend an early meeting.” Duty called. Truth was not held slave to expedience.
In concluding his funeral message, he said: “No son was ever taught more effectively by his father than I was on that occasion. My father not only knew the truth—he lived it.”
President Thomas S. Monson October 1999 "Becoming Our Best Selves"
I challenge you to make it the most wonderful experience. Little people have a hard time sitting 8 hours listening unless we create an experience for them.
- Start memorizing the apostles names.
- Have older children put them in order.
- Play games with the prophets.
- Pictures on the wall and label topics they talk about.
- After Conference—piece of white paper put it next to each one of them. On paper we would write the subject that they talked about it.
- Every person gets copy of the Ensign. Next 6 months FHE comes from the Conference talks. They would present their talk and create a family goal from that talk. Learn to apply what they say.
- Online lds.org the conference packets.
- Have a special breakfast.
- Blankets and pillows in family room. They had their own designated space.
- Cinnamon rolls for Conference.
- Snack bar with junk food.
- Get good night’s sleep the night before. You stay awake during conference.
Class member: 8 ½ x11 at distribution center. Kids take turns finding that person to put on the wall.
Now is when you prepare your children for conference. Get children excited about it. Pray for them in all your prayers.
I bear testimony that teaching your children about the Holy Ghost is one of the most important things you can do.
As you teach your children and help them recognize that it’s the Spirit…they will start coming to you. At dinner time you are going to talk about a CTR moment. Anytime during the day when you have made a good choice. As they come back to the table and express them, these choices were made because the Holy Ghost helped them. It give them a time to recognize that. Get each of your kids a journal. They need to record their CTR moments..or spiritual experiences. They need to come to realize that the Holy Ghost is working in their lives every day. They will begin to see that the Holy Ghost is with them every day. It is your action that validates what the Holy Ghost has given you.
- Share with your children an example of the workings of the Holy Ghost in your life.
- Start a journal and record each day the “tender mercies” of the Lord
- Pray daily for an increased sensitivity to the promptings of the Holy Ghost
- When you receive a prompting, act on it quickly
- Read your scriptures daily and record any promptings you receive
- Ponder this quote.....
"Nephi-like, might we ask ourselves what our children know? From us? Personally? Do our children know that we love the scriptures? Do they see us reading them and marking them and clinging to them in daily life? Have our children ever unexpectedly opened a closed door and found us on our knees in prayer? Have they heard us not only pray with them but also pray for them out of nothing more than sheer parental love? Do our children know we believe in fasting as something more than an obligatory first-Sunday-of-the-month hardship? Do they know that we have fasted for them and for their future on days about which they knew nothing? Do they know we love being in the temple, not least because it provides a bond to them that neither death nor the legions of hell can break? Do they know we love and sustain local and general leaders, imperfect as they are, for their willingness to accept callings they did not seek in order to preserve a standard of righteousness they did not create? Do those children know that we love God with all our heart and that we long to see the face—and fall at the feet—of His Only Begotten Son? I pray that they know this."
Jeffrey R. Holland April 2003 "A Prayer For The Children"