Being able to recognize, receive and understand revelation and other promptings of the Holy Ghost is imperative to the successful completion of our mortal journey. The gospel teaches us that things like scripture study, prayer and church attendance will help us accomplish that goal. While that is 100% true, there are several other physical factors that come into play as well.
Pay careful attention to the following tips to spiritual well-being, as suggested by modern prophets and scripture:
1. Your sleep pattern affects revelation
Back in 2012, Elder Richard G. Scott mentioned in General Conference that “reasonable amounts of sleep … increase[s] our capacity to receive and understand revelation.”
It makes sense, but you never thought about it from that perspective, did you? The amount of sleep you get (not too much, not too little) affects your spiritual antennae. This claim is supported by a story about Elder Marion G. Romney, retold via a Mormon Channel podcast titled The Doctrine of Sleep:
“When Marion G. Romney was called as a General Authority, he felt overwhelmed by all of his new assignments and responsibilities and he asked his friend, Elder Harold B. Lee, if he had any advice for him.
Elder Lee responded, ‘well, if you’re gonna be successful as a General Authority you will need to be inspired. You will need to receive revelation and I give you one piece of advice:
Go to bed early and get up early. If you do, your body and mind will become rested and then in those quiet early morning hours you will receive more flashes of inspiration and insight than at any other time of the day.'”
You can listen to the whole episode here. It’s a good one.
2. Your diet also affects revelation
The Word of Wisdom is much more than a revelation prohibiting Latter-day Saints from drinking alcohol and doing drugs. It’s an entire health code that has specifically spiritual (and physical) benefits.
Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles highlighted this point back in 1979:
“I have come to know … 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 … 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” (emphasis added).
Remember to be wary of “anything else that disturbs your health.” It could be that diet Coke you can’t live without or those prescription meds that are taking a bigger toll than they’re worth.
If there are certain substances that erode our ability to feel and understand the Spirit, doesn’t it make sense to also assume that a healthy diet will enhance that ability?
What you put into your body affects your relationship with the Spirit of God. At the other end of the spectrum, what you don’t put into your body also affects your spirit (take a moment to think about how fasting fits into this context).
3. Your exercise habits
Exercise goes hand in hand with diet. Elder Scott recognized (in the same talk mentioned in section one) that “good health practices” can enhance spiritual communication. He specifically mentions exercise.
Our physical bodies are an invaluable gift given to us from God, but they can also become effective tools in His hands. Would Ammon, one of the most famous missionaries in the Book of Mormon, have been able to defend King Lamoni’s sheep if he lacked the physical capability to fight off the Lamanite aggressors?
The Lord will use our physical abilities to further His work and bless our lives.
Back in 1972 a Regional Representative to the Counsel of the Twelve, Brother Clarence F. Robison, addressed students at Brigham Young University. Here’s an excerpt from his address about physical fitness:
“There is a fundamental law that the tissue of the human body will waste away through idleness and disuse. Conversely, muscles and vessels that are stressed grow and increase in capacity …
Not only are all three areas—physical, spiritual, intellectual—governed by these same laws, but they also seem to be inseparable in that one cannot reach his loftiest potential without the support and strength of the others. Many members of the Church have developed themselves spiritually and intellectually, but they are being held back because of physical unfitness.”
4. Hygiene and Clothing
We’re going to keep this one simple. The most conclusive evidence that your cleanliness and clothing affects your spirituality, simply stated, comes from the For the Strength of Youth booklet:
“When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act.”
This makes sense when you think about, for example, the clothes we wear to church every week.
Remember, your body is a temple. A temple is the House of the Lord. God’s house is always “a house of order,” both inside and out. Is your body set in order and inviting to spiritual promptings?
DISCLAIMER: This is not to say that people wearing tuxedos are more receptive to the Spirit than someone in sweatpants. This section has little to do with style. It describes a general lifestyle of cleanliness and modest appearance.
The list of factors that affect the Spirit could go on forever. Touch, sight, smell, taste, audible influences—they all play a part. Be mindful of how your physical state is affecting your spiritual state.
Read your scriptures, pray, go to church—but also remember to go to bed early, eat well, stay in shape and maintain a modest appearance.
As you change your physical habits take note of how the spiritual side follows suit.