I was inspired by Elder Larry R. Lawrence’s talk in the October 2015 General Conference. He spoke about an elevated version of self improvement, inviting the Holy Ghost to give us personalized guidance as we follow the Savior’s command to become “perfect.” (Matt 5:48).
Elder Lawrence provided some very interesting examples, and introduced a spiritual exercise that we can do.
Here’s a recap.
First, we begin with the Biblical story of the rich young man. [Watch this lovely 2 minute portrayal!]
The question the young man asked Jesus, is the same question that all of us can, and should, ask.
“What Lack I Yet?”
(What can I do to improve, and reach my full potential?)
This leads us to the spiritual exercise outlined by Elder Lawrence.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
I would like to suggest that each of you participate in a spiritual exercise sometime soon, perhaps even tonight while saying your prayers. Humbly ask the Lord the following question:
“What is keeping me from progressing?” In other words: “What lack I yet?”
Then wait quietly for a response. If you are sincere, the answer will soon become clear. It will be revelation intended just for you.
Pray. Ask. Wait.
Of course, getting our answer will not help us unless we are willing to take action, and DO what comes to our mind! So…
The good news is that the Spirit isn’t going to tell us EVERYTHING we need to improve all at once, he works with us at our own speed. “To him, our direction is ever more important than our speed.”
We just need to move forward and take one step at a time.
Elder Lawrence said a cool thing that I’ve underlined twice and then highlighted in my Conference notebook.
The Spirit not only shows us our weaknesses, but also our strengths!
“Sometimes we need to ask what we are doing right so that the Lord can lift and encourage us.”
WHY SHOULD I DO THIS?
Here are some good reasons found in Elder Lawrence’s talk:
#1. It’s a commandment.(Matt 5:48)
“It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today.”
#2. We don’t want to miss out
“If spiritual growth is not a priority in our lives, if we are not on a course of steady improvement, we will miss out on the important experiences that God wants to give us.”
#3. We will develop a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit & be led the right way
“He is a completely honest companion and tells us things that no one else knows or has the courage to say.”
#4. We will be happy and have peace.
“The possibilities are endless!”
#5. We will gain the ultimate reward
“The Lord pours out more and more light until there is finally power to pierce the heavenly veil… [to] see the Lord’s face, and know that he is”.
#6. We may get a driving lesson from the Holy Ghost
“Be patient when driving; don’t exceed the speed limit. (I’m still working on that last one.)”
WHEN SHOULD I DO THIS?
Every day. At home. In quiet places. Any time!
Elder Lawrence suggested a “perfect time” is when we partake of the sacrament each Sabbath day in church.
I personally put this to the test. I knelt down, prayed, and I asked the Lord what I should do to improve myself.
Then, I waited.
Sure enough, I had an interesting thought come into my mind. My assignment from the Holy Ghost had arrived, and it is – as predicted by Lawrence – a bit surprising. But, I’m going to try it out. I won’t tell you what it is right now. After I put it to the test and learn a few things, I’ll probably report about it in a future blog. I invite you to do try it, too!
Isn’t it a great feeling to know that we are not alone in this journey through life? Our Heavenly Father has given us a personal guide we can always turn to. So, what will your answer be to improve yourself and your life today?
You won’t know until you ask.
The journey of discipleship is not an easy one. It has been called a “course of steady improvement.” As we travel along that strait and narrow path, the Spirit continually challenges us to be better and to climb higher.
Daughter B: “Why is the Holy Ghost wearing a fur coat?”
Me: o_o “Um…. why not?” [in truth, I didn’t notice. I just liked the picture]
Daughter B: “hmmm … The Spirit of God like a fire is burning… Warm fuzzy feelings from the ‘Comforter’? Okay, I’ll roll with it.”
So there you go. 😀 Keep on rolling! – MoSop
Read or watch Elder Larry R. Lawrence’s full talk “What Lack I Yet?”
Well, I prayed, but am still waiting for an answer. Maybe I just haven’t listened hard enough, or maybe God’s still trying to decide among the many things I need to change or improve upon. Life can be so confusing sometimes. I wish my awareness of the Holy Spirit’s guiding was better. I know it would save me a lot of heartache and trouble. But, sometimes I hear and don’t always obey. That’s most likely the real problem.
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“Life is confusing sometimes.” Amen! Lynne, I think you’ve expressed perfectly what every one of us experience. Being guided by the Spirit through life – hearing God’s will for us and receiving personal revelation – is a lifelong process. I loved the quote that to God, it doesn’t matter our speed, only our direction in striving to come close to Him. I’m pretty sure that answers to our prayers always come in the Lord’s own way and in His own timing.
I have learned that the spirit speaks in many different ways to me. Sometimes there’s just a thought or idea that comes into my mind (and I need to write it down or act on it quickly or it fades away). Sometimes there is just a feeling of peace as I make a choice to work on something I’m aware of, and then it just “feels right”. Sometimes I get what I call the “ah-ha moment” when an impression comes from reading a passage of scripture (I definitely get a lot of great thoughts when I read the scriptures), or a line in a Conference talk hits me, or listening to beautiful sacred music, etc. The Spirit definitely speaks (whispers) in so many different ways. It’s an ongoing process learning to listen.
A challenge for me is keeping the environment in our home and my mind a welcoming one for the Spirit. Clearing out the distractions of the world- because we’re always so “plugged in” to social media. I have to work extra hard to “unplug” from the earth so I can let heaven in.
Maybe the Holy Spirit has already told you something recently that you should do or work on? Think back on moments recently when you have felt the Spirit strongly present – perhaps during a special prayer, a blessing or a Conference talk – and see if you recall something you thought you ought to do, work on, etc. Perhaps the Spirit wants you to remember something.
Just a thought. If not, as you say, your answer may be delayed as part of the learning process. Just keep praying and listening quietly. Don’t worry. One thing I’m 100% positive about is that our Heavenly Father loves you, and He will send you guidance through the Spirit. ♥ – hugs xox
I love your reply. You are wise beyond your years. Please check your email. Love you.
Elder Eyring gave a similar challenge several years ago:
One of the questions we must ask of our Heavenly Father in private prayer is this: “What have I done today, or not done, which displeases Thee? If I can only know, I will repent with all my heart without delay.” That humble prayer will be answered. (Do Not Delay, October 1999)
Elder Kim B. Clark gave a similar challenge
I learned that we needed to ask ourselves two questions. I believe these are the questions whose answers will lead us to do what we need to do to prepare for what lies ahead. Here they are: (1) What am I doing that I should stop doing? and (2) What am I not doing that I should start doing?
As we asked those questions in prayer, we received very specific answers. We changed how we spent our time, what media we allowed into our home, how we served in the temple, how we studied the scriptures, how we served the Lord, and many, many other things. We needed to increase our spirituality. Through this process of repentance, the Lord Jesus Christ reached out and changed our lives. We felt His mercy, His grace, His love, and His power. Through His matchless power He changed our hearts and our minds, and He lifted us up to Him. I know that had we not listened and not acted on what we received, I would not have been called to serve at BYU–Idaho and I would not be standing here before you today. It was a turning point in our lives.
Brothers and sisters, I know that I am speaking to faithful, covenant-keeping Latter-day Saints. I know that you are really, really good. . .Yet I know from my own experience that we need to ask ourselves these two questions regularly. We need to change and repent so that the Atonement of Christ can work even more powerfully in our lives. If we do, our Heavenly Father will bless us with greater spiritual power. I know that is true. . (Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast • August 4, 2015)
I’ve repeated this challenge many times in life. God has always been willing to show me what He wants we to change. Sometimes it’s been an instant thought to my mind, other times it’s distilled upon my soul slowly. Perhaps God knew I couldn’t take it all at once. It’s a painful wonderful process as we desperately plead for Grace to help us change what we are doing or not doing.
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