The prophet Nephi teaches that the gift of the Holy Ghost is given to those who “diligently seek” for it (1 Nephi 10:17). I don’t doubt the correctness of this verse of scripture. However, I don’t think that this verse tells the whole story. There are other verses of scripture, written by other prophets, that need to be bought into the discussion to more fully understand the workings of the Holy Ghost.
Nephi seems to be a nearly “sinless” prophet. Not all of the prophets were like Nephi. Some initially resisted the Lord when He call upon them. I’m thinking of Amulek as I write this.
I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart . . . Alma 10:6
I think its vital for followers of Christ to understand that the Lord works with His children in many ways. Nephi was quick to respond when the Lord called on him. Other prophets needed a different approach. The Holy Ghost isn’t a one-act play. He works with the children of men in a variety of ways.
Amulek resisted the Lord until and angel appeared to him. Amulek wasn’t the first. It also took an angel to convince Alma the younger and the four sons of Mosiah to repent.
The Lord is willing to work with you and I and those we love in many different ways. I think its important to understand this and be careful not to write someone off because they’re not responding to the message of the gospel as we think they should.
I’ll close with one of my favorite thoughts on this subject:
“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).