After reading Ruth's post about charismatic experiences, I decided I wanted to write a post about my experiences with feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost. I have had numerous experiences, far too many to recount here. I also am sure that many I have forgotten over the 47 years of my life. But I want to try to give an overall picture of my experience feeling the spirit.
In our religion, we are baptized at what is referred to as the "age of accountability", being 8 years old. We believe that at 8, children have begun to understand the difference between right and wrong, and are in a position to understand the commitment of baptism, and of obeying the commandments. In connection with this ordinance we also receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, through the authority of the holy priesthood. Being young when I was baptized, I grew up being accustomed to feeling the spirit. For me, it was just the way life was, and I knew no other way. However, as a young adult, I began to wonder if I truly had ever had a "witness" of my own. I had always loved teaching others about my beliefs, so I decided to serve a mission for my church. But that question still hung over me; "Had I ever had a witness?"
I"m not sure what kind of a witness I expected. Maybe I thought it would be something as grand as angels with trumpets descending to herald in the good news. Maybe I thought I would be overcome and fall to the ground as I had seen some on television do. I had one friend from another religion who believed that unless you spoke in tongues, you couldn't say that you had received the Holy Ghost. This teaching wasn't part of my religion, so I didn't expect that. We do believe in the gift of tongues, but we believe there are many other ways in which the spirit is manifest. I didn't quite know what to expect, but I knew that I hadn't seen angels, or had any extraordinary miracle occur to witness to me. But then one day I asked myself if I had ever felt the influence of the spirit. I realized that I had felt it many, many times, although it was more like what the Prophet Elijah experienced. The word of the Lord came to Elijah, "And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." 1 Kings 19:11,12 The feeling I had, had been much more like that of a still small voice. I realized that as I had read the Book of Mormon, as I had read the Bible, as I had prayed, I had often felt the spirit testifying to me that they were true. As I bore my testimony to others, I had often had a strong witness from the Holy Ghost that the witness I had shared was true.
After this realization, I began to pay more attention to the feelings I had when reading or praying or teaching. I realized that I had felt the Spirit often, but had not recognized it as such. It had been such an integral part of my life from the time I was young, that I didn't realize what it was. Since that time, I have learned how to listen more closely, and have received even greater witnesses and feelings. I have had what modern scripture refers to as a "burning in the bosom", or a sure witness.
The gift of the Holy Ghost is one of the greatest gifts that I posess. Not only does it help me to know the truth of all things, but it inspires and guides me to what I should say and do. I have been warned, comforted, and guided by the Spirit throughout my life. I am so grateful for this gift from God that has truly been a comforting companion to me.