Many of us receive impressions from the Spirit from time to time. When that happens, what do we do with those impressions? Do we ponder over them? Do we treasure them? Do we care enough about them to write them down and keep a record of them?
Let’s take a look at what the scriptures say about writing down impressions as they come.
In 1 Nephi 6:3, Nephi informs us:
3 And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father, for they cannot be written upon these plates, for I desire the room that I may write of the things of God.
From this we can see that it was more important to Nephi to write down the things of God than anything else. He wrote the things down that were of the greatest importance. What could be more important than direct, personal communication from Heavenly Father?
The Nephite people did the same thing and felt the same way. In 2 Nephi 25:23, we are told:
23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
They wrote for their posterity, to help them come unto Christ. In verse 26, we learn:
26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
They kept records to help their children know the Gospel. They wanted their children to really know Christ.
We learn that the same thing was done in Jacob 1:4, which tells us:
4 And if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I should engraven the heads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our people.
Again, we see that they wrote down their spiritual and sacred experiences so that they would be preserved for the benefit of the people.
King Benjamin explained in detail the purpose of keeping records of sacred and spiritual experiences in Mosiah 1:2–7, which explains:
2 And it came to pass that he had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord.
3 And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God.
4 For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time.
5 I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.
6 O my sons, I would that ye should remember that these sayings are true, and also that these records are true. And behold, also the plates of Nephi, which contain the records and the sayings of our fathers from the time they left Jerusalem until now, and they are true; and we can know of their surety because we have them before our eyes.
7 And now, my sons, I would that ye should remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby; and I would that ye should keep the commandments of God, that ye may prosper in the land according to the promises which the Lord made unto our fathers.
King Benjamin taught his sons how important the plates were. He also taught them the great value in maintaining and keeping the records. He even warned what would happen if the records were not kept properly.
In Omni 1:17, we in fact see what happens to a people when proper records are not kept:
17 And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them.
From these verses, we can learn the importance of writing down things that we learn from the Lord through the Holy Ghost. Elder Richard G. Scott had this to say about an experience he had with personal revelation:
“…strong impressions began to flow to me again. I wrote them down. The message included specific counsel on how to become more effective as an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I received such an outpouring of impressions that were so personal that I felt it was not appropriate to record them in the midst of a Sunday School class. I sought a more private location, where I continued to write the feelings that flooded into my mind and heart as faithfully as possible. After each powerful impression was recorded, I pondered the feelings I had received to determine if I had accurately expressed them in writing. As a result, I made a few minor changes to what had been written. Then I studied their meaning and application in my own life.”
“Subsequently I prayed, reviewing with the Lord what I thought I had been taught by the Spirit. When a feeling of peace came, I thanked Him for the guidance given. I was then impressed to ask, ‘Was there yet more to be given?’ I received further impressions, and the process of writing down the impressions, pondering, and praying for confirmation was repeated. Again I was prompted to ask, ‘Is there more I should know?’ And there was. When that last, most sacred experience was concluded, I had received some of the most precious, specific, personal direction one could hope to obtain in this life. Had I not responded to the first impressions and recorded them, I would not have received the last, most precious guidance.”“To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” General Conference Report, October 2009
Not only should we write down our thoughts and impressions, but we should ask if there is more that the Lord would have us to know. In many instances, such as with Elder Scott, there may be much more there for us. Who knows who might benefit from our doing this?