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I love good conference stories.  They are one of the best parts about going back through the conferences from former days.

Here are three from Boyd K. Packer.  They all make the same point.  You can and will hear the voice of the Lord when you pray.  It only takes practice.

Story #1-John Burroughs, the Naturalist

Many years ago John Burroughs, a naturalist, one summer evening was walking through a crowded park. Above the sounds of city life he heard the song of a bird.

He stopped and listened! Those with him had not heard it. He looked around. No one else had noticed it.

It bothered him that everyone should miss something so beautiful.

He took a coin from his pocket and flipped it into the air. It struck the pavement with a ring, no louder than the song of the bird. Everyone turned; they could hear that!

It is difficult to separate from all the sounds of city traffic the song of a bird. But you can hear it. You can hear it plainly if you train yourself to listen for it.

Story #2-Static on the Radio

One of our sons has always been interested in radio. When he was a little fellow, his Christmas present was a very elementary radio construction set.

As he grew, and as we could afford it, and as he could earn it, he received more sophisticated equipment.

There have been many times over the years, some very recently, when I have sat with him as he talked with someone in a distant part of the world.

I could hear static and interference and catch a word or two, or sometimes several voices at once.

Yet he can understand, for he has trained himself to tune out the interference.

I had some ham friends who tried to get me into it, but I could never understand anything that was being said.  They could.

Story #3-The Child’s Cry

In the early days of our marriage, our children came at close intervals. As parents of little children will know, in those years it is quite a novelty for them to get an uninterrupted night of sleep.

If you have a new baby, and another youngster cutting teeth, or one with a fever, you can be up and down a hundred times a night. (That, of course, is an exaggeration. It’s probably only twenty or thirty times.)

We finally divided our children into “his” and “hers” for night tending. She would get up for the new baby, and I would tend the one cutting teeth.

One day we came to realize that each would hear only the one to which we were assigned, and would sleep very soundly through the cries of the other.

We have commented on this over the years, convinced that you can train yourself to hear what you want to hear, to see and feel what you desire, but it takes some conditioning.

Every parent reading this knows that after a while you could pick out your baby’s cry from others.  Usually you could even pick out what the cry  meant.  If anybody asked you to explain your technique, you’d flounder around.  Most descriptions of how the Spirit communicates to us have that same quality of floundering around.  Rightly so.  It’s not technique, its experience.

What technique can do is to make your practice more effective.

Elder Packer gave a couple of practice tips:

  • I have come to know also that a fundamental purpose of the Word of Wisdom has to do with revelation.

    From the time you are very little we teach you to avoid tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco, narcotics, and anything else that disturbs your health.

    And you know that we get very worried when we find one of you tampering with those things.

    If someone “under the influence” can hardly listen to plain talk, how can they respond to spiritual promptings that touch their most delicate feelings?

    As valuable as the Word of Wisdom is as a law of health, it may be much more valuable to you spiritually than it is physically.

  • Even in our youth activities there is something to do with inspiration, for they include service to others. Inspiration comes more quickly when we need it to help others than when we are concerned about ourselves.
  • Now, I know that some young people resent it a little when we comment upon such things as the wild music that is served up nowadays.

    Can you not see that you’re not going to get much inspiration while your mind is filled with that?

    The right kind of music, on the other hand, can prepare you to receive inspiration.

    You should know also that, in addition to static and interference which jam the circuits, there are counterfeit signals.

  • In the Church we are not exempt from common sense. You can know to begin with that you won’t be prompted from any righteous source to steal, to lie, to cheat, to join anyone in any kind of moral transgression.

    You have a conscience even as a little boy and girl. It will prompt you to know the things that are wrong. Don’t smother it.

  • Go for counsel to your parents, and to your leaders.

This talk is a gold mine. It is a must read.

One of the best talks from this conference was the one about the very junior Navy officer who prayed for inspiration to guide his Captain in a deadly storm. He got it. The brother then drew the lesson that we should learn to hear the voice in the calms of life so we weren’t having to learn in the storm.

Other Posts from the Saturday afternoon session of the October 1979 General Conference


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