What is a Spiritual Experience? Have You Experienced One?

Latter Day Saints talk about Spiritual Experiences. I’m going to attempt to define what constitutes an experience with the Spirit. My source material will be the scriptures, the living Prophets, and my own experience.

I think the most basic concept we need to understand is that we are the children of God and that we lived in the Spirit world with Him before we were born into this world.

Another basic concept is that Heavenly Father’s Spirit fills the immensity of space (D&C 88:12). Heavenly Father (my favorite name for God) can only be in one place at a time, but His Spirit is everywhere. The scriptures refer to this ubiquitous Spirit as the light of Christ (D&C 88:7). We also know that all mankind has a portion of the light of Christ born with them; it is part of us, our conscience (D&C 84:46). The light of Christ is not a person but an influence like sunlight or gravity. The light of Christ entices mankind to do good, and will lead an obedient individual to the Holy Ghost.

The next basic concept is the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a Spirit, in other words, a man who does not currently have a body of flesh and bone. He, like Heavenly Father can only be in one place at a time, but by utilizing the light of Christ he is able to exercise His power wherever needed in space and time. The Holy Ghost can manifest his powers as he chooses. Faith appears to be the only prerequisite, and faith can exist as a gift with or without church affiliation (Matt. 8:5-13).

With these basic concepts in mind we can now consider what a Spiritual Experience is. The light of Christ is part of us, and manifest its influence via our conscience, that is, our basic sense of right or wrong. At this level, all mankind have had an experience with the Spirit.

The work of the Holy Ghost is to lead mankind to Christ. He testifies of the Father and the Son and leads those who will to all truth, but “few there be that find it” (3 Nephi 14:14). In addition, He is the source of the gifts of the Spirit and we are taught that everyone is given a gift of the Spirit (D&C 46:11). At this level all mankind throughout the world apparently have experienced the Holy Ghost, and may be unaware of it.

Another aspect of the Holy Ghost is called the Gift of the Holy Ghost. To experience this level of the Holy Ghost an individual must be baptized by one having authority. Then according to our pre-mortal promises and covenants, and our desires in this life, we can experience many kinds of manifestations of the Spirit. If we will diligently seek to fulfill our baptism covenant we will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and experience conversion, also referred to as being “born again”. The scriptures also use the term Comforter, or first Comforter to refer to the manifestations of the Holy Ghost for those who are progressing in things of the Spirit. At the highest level of Spiritual experiences a follower of Christ can receive another Comforter, this is know as the Second Comforter (John 14:23).

All mankind have experienced the Spirit, but haven’t always known it. There are many levels of Spiritual experiences. Members of the restored church who diligently seek the Holy Ghost have the opportunity to receive manifestations of the Spirit at a level where they know the gospel is true and are thereby entitled to testify they know the gospel is true (John 7:17). It would be just as disingenuous to say you believe when you know, as it would be to say you know when you believe.

Those members of the church whose experiences with the Spirit are at a level where they feel uncomfortable using the word “know” should use words that are natural and comfortable for them when they share their testimonies.

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