The secret trick: every time I pray with a question now, I have God remind me ahead of time what yes and no feel like.
So the other night, I had this weird experience where I was supposed to go to a social event, and when I got there, I started feeling like the Holy Ghost was telling me not to go. This was basically an enrichment activity involving just a bunch of people from the ward, and so I was very confused. Why would I be told not to go to that?
So I ignored the prompting, got out of my car and headed toward the house, only to be told over and over again not to go, not to go. So I went back to my car and prayed.
Then I prayed again, asking: should I be here? (No.) Should I go home now? (Yes.)
I went ahead and phrased my questions different ways--Can I go in? Should I leave right this minute? Do I need to be at home tonight? Just testing my answers' consistency. When the answers all matched, I ended up turning the car back on and driving on home, just on faith. I wanted to go be with friends but as soon as I acted on my prompting I instantly felt better. When I got home I felt to ask my husband for a blessing, for all my confused feelings. The blessing basically was like, "Good work following the Spirit!" and that was that. So I have no idea what that all was about, but I did have a good time alone repackaging my long-term food storage and listening to Har Hari Haray Wahe Guru over and over on YouTube.
That story is just an example, though, of this principle in action. I believe I was inspired to begin asking God for these reminders of what yes and no feel like. Getting answers to prayers can be hard enough without having to guess if the feeling you're getting is a yes or a no.
So, a challenge: spend some time this week with God just learning what a "yes" and a "no" feel like. Go ahead and take it a step further, if you want, and ask what a "deceptive no" feels like--the most convincing false yes that the adversary could plant in your heart. Practice discerning the difference. Watch how much more easily you will be able to discern the yes-no answers to prayers as you live your daily life. Where it used to take me personally quite a while, sometimes, to understand if I was getting a yes or no about something, now it does not take long at all. I still ask for reminders of yes and no at the beginning of important prayers, but overall I am much more confident at knowing that when I get a feeling, I will be able to recognize it for the answer it actually is.
Yes Feeling Samples
- feelings of light or warmth of tingling in the lungs and face
- feelings of spiritual expansion
- feelings of energy rising in the body
- feelings of spiritual "smiling"
- open feelings in the heart area
No Feeling Samples
- feelings of being closed off
- energy sinking downward instead of upward
- tingling on different parts of the body (my guts sometimes tingle, or a friend's ears tingle)
- feelings of constriction
False Yes Feeling Samples
- dizzinessEveryone Is Different
- energy moving around, but not in the same way as a yes
- different body parts tingling than you would feel in a yes or a no
It's important to figure out for yourself what your baseline is. You might have the same yes and no feelings that I do, or you might not. I suspect it's like muscle testing. For most people, if they stand up and ask themselves what their name is, their body will sway one direction or another as an answer. But for some people, instead of swaying, their body will make, for example, the right arm tingle or lift for yes, and the left arm tingle or lift for no. That's not wrong. It's just different. There are lots of different ways a yes or a no feeling might manifest for a person, but it's up to you to discover what those manifestations look like for you.
|Personal prayer. Image from lds.org.|
Similarly, you need to be able to recognize feelings of "yes" as being from God, because sometimes God tells us answers we don't want to hear. "Yes" feelings for me are not particularly comfortable. So if all I asked was a yes or no question and I got that uncomfortable sensation of yes, that buzziness in my chest, if I didn't know any better I could easily just tell myself that my answer was a no, because what would I have to compare it to? And a lot of times I think people seeking answers expect them to come in a specific way, without asking God if that specific way is appropriate for them or not.
Also, I'll mention that another thing I like to do is specifically pray that God will send me answers in a way that is unmistakeable, that I will fully understand. God will always send us answers, but there's no guarantee we'll understand them unless we ask for that understanding too!
God is not going to lead you astray with this. If you go directly to Him to get your baseline, He'll be happy to give it to you. He wants you to be able to easily discern between yes and no. I believe it's actually one of His big goals for all of His children. So I challenge you to spend some time this week practicing with this. Get on your knees and ask Him what yes and no feel like. Ask Him a question and ask Him to give you the answer in a way you won't be able to misinterpret. Notice the difference in the quality of your prayers.
Believe! Witness miracles!