Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Receive the Holy Ghost

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Receive the Holy Ghost, by David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

As a full-time missionary I often heard other missionaries speak of, or pray to, use the Holy Ghost. A clever leader pointed out: "The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead. You don't use him; He uses you!"

Clever as this statement is, you could say that its focus is on being acted upon (as opposed to acting). Those familiar with Elder Bednar will have immediately noticed his use of one of his favorite scriptures, 2 Nephi 2:14. (If it's not a favorite, it at least seems frequently used in his talks.)

If our desire is to act, and not just be acted upon, what about the Holy Ghost focuses on acting? The title of this talk gives us a clue:

I remember distinctly when I learned of the proper way to confirm someone a member of the Church and bestow the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I was told to say, "Receive the Holy Ghost," (not "receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost") and I loved all that was suggested in that distinction. I've long loved agency, and the instruction to receive the Holy Ghost highlights choosing. Here's what Elder Bednar taught:

These four words—“Receive the Holy Ghost”—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads and those four important words are spoken. As we receive this ordinance, each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed “receive the Holy Ghost” and its attendant spiritual gifts.

It's one thing to know about receiving the Holy Ghost, but another thing entirely to actually do it. Here's Elder Bednar's suggestion:

We need to (1) sincerely desire to receive the Holy Ghost, (2) appropriately invite the Holy Ghost into our lives, and (3) faithfully obey God’s commandments.

About five years ago, I taught a group of 12- to 13-yr olds a lesson on the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Hoping to make it more meaningful, I prepared bookmarks that had a picture of a light bulb—suggesting that the companionship of the Holy Ghost is like a light—and a list of what to do to receive the companionship. Here are the two designs I let them choose from, along with the list I used:

  1. Desire the companionship of the Holy Ghost
  2. Learn more about the Holy Ghost
  3. Sincerely request guidance
  4. Live worthy of this companionship

I'm pleased to see that with the addition of learning more about the Holy Ghost, my list closely matches Elder Bednar's!

Tucked in the back of my scriptures are my own copies of these light bulb bookmarks. I feel good each time I use them or see them as I think of the good times I had with those young men and all that we learned together. Even more, though, I'm grateful that I can receive the Holy Ghost again and again and enjoy the blessings that come from that sacred companionship—from choosing to act, and not just be acted upon.

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