|"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."|
Inspirationby Carol L. Clark
All humans are entitled to inspiration, which is the influence of the Spirit of the Lord upon their minds and souls (Benson, p. 142). The Lord inspires men and women and calls them "to his holy work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old" (D&C 20:11). Inspiration from God is essential to understanding spiritual matters. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained, "If a man learns nothing more than to eat, drink and sleep, and does not comprehend any of the designs of God, the beast comprehends the same things it knows as much as we, unless we are able to comprehend by the inspiration of Almighty God" (TPJS, p. 343).
"Inspiration" and "revelation" are sometimes used interchangeably by LDS leaders in explaining the source of prophetic authority. The First Presidency of the Church said, "Moses wrote the history of the creation, and we believe that he had the inspiration of the Almighty resting upon him. The Prophets who wrote after him were likewise endowed with the Spirit of revelation" (MFP 2:232). President Wilford Woodruff later noted, "This Church has never been led a day except by revelation. And He will never leave it. It matters not who lives or who dies, or who is called to lead this Church, they have got to lead it by inspiration of Almighty God" (MFP 3:225).
Latter-day Saints believe that their efforts can be enhanced and their personal capabilities expanded when they do their best work and at the same time depend upon the Lord "for light and inspiration beyond [their] own natural talents" (Benson, p. 173). Inspiration must be sought and then acted upon when it is received. This quest for inspiration is important in all the affairs of life. President Ezra Taft Benson's explanation of the necessity of inspiration is as valid in temporal, family, and all other matters as it is in Church concerns: "Inspiration is essential to properly lead (D&C 50:13-14). We must have the spirit of inspiration whether we are teaching (D&C 50:13-14) or administering the affairs of the kingdom (D&C 46:2). If we do our part in preparation and work and have the Spirit of the Lord, we can be led, though we do not know beforehand what needs to be done (1 Ne. 4:6; Alma 17:3). Therefore, we should always pray, especially prior to commencing the work of the Lord (2 Ne. 32:9)" (Benson, p. 433).
Inspiration comes from the Lord and may be received in various ways. It comes from prayer (D&C 63:64), from a personal manifestation of the spirit of the Lord (D&C 20:11), from reading and following the commandments, and from studying and pondering the scriptures. Women and men may also be inspired by good causes, such as protection of home, family, and personal freedoms (Alma 43:45). President Spencer W. Kimball explained, "We pray for enlightenment, then go to with all our might and our books and our thoughts and righteousness to get the inspiration" (Kimball, p. 122). Much of the world's fine music, art, and literature can inspire, as can the role models provided by noble people living in the past or present, because "every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God" (Moro. 7:13).
The fruits of inspiration are many: inspiration from the Lord gives understanding (Job 32:8); those who call upon God may write by the spirit of inspiration (Moses 6:5); and those who believe in the words of the prophets may speak as they are inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost (D&C 20:26). Individuals may be inspired to take specific action, as the Prophet Joseph Smith was inspired to lay the foundation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (D&C 21:2,7). The Constitution of the United States "was given by inspiration of God" (MFP 3:12).
When called to specific Church duties, members have the right to receive inspiration from God in fulfilling them. They can also expect their leaders to serve with inspiration. "When you read the Book of Mormon, you know you are reading the truth. Why? Because God directed men to write events as they occurred, and he gave them the wisdom and inspiration to do this" (DS 2:202).
Benson, Ezra Taft. The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. Salt Lake City, 1988.
Kimball, Spencer W. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball. Salt Lake City, 1982.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company