Ryan Holmes of BYU Broadcasting addressed students and faculty on how the Holy Ghost teaches the truth of all things at a devotional Tuesday in the Joseph Smith Building Auditorium.
Holmes related an experience he had as a young boy climbing a mountain east of the BYU campus. He, his brother and some friends found a rattlesnake and began playing with it, oblivious to the potentially dangerous consequences. Upon returning home, he learned that his mother had received a strong impression to pray for the safety of her sons.
“I was astonished. How did she know that we were in trouble?” Holmes said. “This is my earliest recollection…where my mother received specific inspiration from the Holy Ghost, in the very moment she needed it. At the time, it seemed mysterious to me…I wondered how it really worked.”
As a missionary, Holmes thought more on the Holy Ghost as he often shared the scripture Moroni 10:5: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.”
“How do we enable the revelatory power of the Holy Ghost? What kind of truths does the Holy Ghost reveal? What exactly is included in “all things?”
He spoke of modern technology and the impressive qualities of smartphones and smart appliances.
“But as impressive as modern technology is, we have access to a celestial communication network that is infinitely more pure and capable than man’s smartest technology. It has unlimited bandwidth, is infinitely fast, is personalized to the soul and has no societal or personal downside,” Holmes said.
“Through the power of the Holy Ghost you can receive a message that is specifically for you,” Holmes said. “This message is not based on your past behavior, or your preferences, but it will be based upon what the Lord knows you need.”
Holmes said that in order to receive specific guidance, one needs to ask specifically. He learned that when a professor in college told his class that as students they could utilize the Holy Ghost.
“I thought to myself: ‘You mean to tell me that I can pray about calculus, physics, thermodynamics, heat transfer and fluid mechanics?’ Yes! All those topics are covered under the ‘all truth’ clause,” said Holmes. “So from that time forward, I began to be more specific in my prayers.
“I learned that when I combined my best efforts with very specific pondering and prayer, things went better – much better. And the truths of some things were manifest to me by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Holmes also told students that most times the first impressions are the inspired ones.
“When we are doing our best to keep the commandments, then our first thoughts and impressions are usually the inspired ones,” Holmes said.
He further stated that heed and diligence were essential to receiving guidance by the Spirit. “Those that are truly not willing to heed heavenly counsel rarely receive it,” Holmes said.
While the Holy Ghost is a guide, Holmes said that “there will be other moments throughout our lives…when we may not recognize the promptings of the Spirit. Remember that life is a probationary state, a time to learn, and a time to become more like the Savior through the exercise of our own agency. There are many circumstances where the Lord leaves it completely up to us. He wants to see if we are learning to act for ourselves. He wants to measure the gap between our will and His will. The Holy Ghost is our guide, not our chauffeur through life.
“So here we are, living on earth, working out our salvation. Our challenge is to learn to distinguish between good and evil, between truth and error, and to make our choices. Our Father hasn’t altogether left us and we have the right to the companionship of the Holy Ghost to help guide us. Learning to enable the influence of the Holy Ghost is critically important,” Holmes said.
“However, we live in a day when there are many competing sources of information which challenge the relevance of eternal truth,” Holmes said.
Mentioning the continuous distractions allowed by modern technology, Holmes said, “I am worried that the companionship we have with our smartphones is competing with the companionship of the Holy Ghost. This potentially harmful situation is created when we forget that there are things to act and things to be acted upon. We, ourselves, are the things that act. Technology is the thing to be acted upon, by us. If we allow that role to become reversed, and we find ourselves mostly reacting to technology, then watch out! We might be holding a rattlesnake by the tail and not even realize the danger!”
To this danger Holmes said, “Don’t get trapped in a compulsion loop that keeps you from the important tasks and people right in front of you. Consider carving out some digital quiet time each day. Sometimes you need to disconnect and be completely alone so that you can commune with God and receive the truth he wants to reveal through the power of the Holy Ghost.
“I have this smartphone in my pocket. It can do amazing things and I am thankful for it. But I am more impressed by and thankful for the gift of the Holy Ghost. He is smarter than all the world, and I will associate myself with him.”
To read the talk in its entirety, visit speeches.byu.edu. The devotional will also be rebroadcast on BYUtv. Check byutv.org for schedules, as well as on demand availability.