As a bishop I was shocked to learn that most priesthood leaders don’t pray about each individual item on the agenda.
When I was first called as bishop and introduced the principle of praying about every single individual calling & release, I had some resistance from the mature, experienced priesthood holders in our ward.
They were convinced that they only had to pray & ask for the Lord’s inspiration at the beginning of the meeting & they would then receive that inspiration during the rest of the meeting. They had never heard of praying about every decision before.
When I asked the Stake President if it was appropriate, he was a little shocked I was asking. It had never come up before as a query, and he seemed, at first, a little unsure what to say. But told me he sustained me if that’s what I decided to do.
So it appears that the Church leadership in our Ward had never prayed for the Lord’s inspiration about each calling until I instituted it.
Let me assure you all that we were quite fastidious about praying about individual callings & releases! We got on our knees, for each & every person. We waited for a warm reassurance or a stupor of thought. I was insistent on unanimous positive feelings of divine acceptance amongst the whole bishopric, otherwise we would go back to reconsidering the person and calling.
Sometimes one member of the bishopric would not feel anything & they might admit to being distracted by other concerns so their ‘vote’ was therefore not considered. But most of the time we had unanimity.
I think my particular style of decision making, as described above, may have caused some concern in the Stake Presidency because after awhile we were counselled that my feelings as bishop should always take presidence! That if I felt good about something then it was more likely to be right. More likely to be the ‘will of the Lord’! This did seem strange to me as I considered that the Lord would inspire all men equally, & that all revelation from God was of equal merit & value, but I was obviously wrong!! It appears the revelation I received as Bishop was of greater value & credibility than everyone else in the Ward!
In Stake Leadership & Ward meetings the Stake Presidency, and General Authorities, would be very vocal about how Bishops received direct revelation from God. They repeatedly told the members that I, as Bishop, received revelation from God for the Ward, much like the Prophet does for the Church. It actually got to become quite embarrassing. I didn’t consider myself to be similar in any way, shape or form to a prophet. If I had been arrogantly inclined it could have gone to my head.
So it came as quite a shock to everyone when I resigned as Bishop due to discovering the Church is a fraudulent cult.
What I found interesting is I didn’t feel any different. I still felt the same feelings of ‘inspiration’ or ‘revelation’ as I did as a true believer.
In fact, even now, as an athiest I have those same feelings of ‘the Spirit’!
Honestly I really do have those same ‘feelings of the spirit’, except I don’t now attribute them to coming from God!
I think it comes down to how you interpret those feelings. To what do we equate feelings of inspiration or revelation?
In the past I believed they were from God. Now I think they come from my own sub-conscious.
Neuro-scientists are mapping the neural processes of our brains & have discovered that our sub-conscious minds have come to a decision about something several seconds before we (our conscious selves) have become aware of it.
It can appear that we are being inspired from a supernatural entity outside ourselves, but actually it is most probably just us. Our own wonderful, amazing brains which inspire us.
So everyone can, & does, receive ‘personal revelation’! Everyone has their own ‘God in their own heads’. Their own imaginary friend, who whispers things to them, who inspires them, who gives them warm peaceful emotional feelings when it is positive, supportive, reassuring & good, and conversely gives rise to negative, uncomfortable, discouraging feelings when something is deemed bad.
It’s just realising this process for what it is.
But never, can these feelings be relied on exclusively to decide on truth. Feelings are never a good indicator of truth. Even though these personal inspirational feelings may seem real & palpable to us, they do not always reflect objective reality outside of us.
Just ask a paranoid schizophrenic, or someone on hallucinogenic drugs, or even consider your own personal night-time dreams. They can all seem very real to that person at the time, but are just psychological constructs of the mind.
Then, if we’re honest, we should also consider that millions of religious people all round the world, in many different religions also have personal spiritual experiences which appear to be very real to them. Just ask someone from another faith to describe their conversion or other significant spiritual event & you’ll discover how amazingly similar their feelings are to your own.
Spirituality is universal. And is a normal, natural process of the brain. But it doesn’t mean it’s evidence of God inspiring us, or even that he even really exists outside our own amazingly powerful & wonderfully malleable minds.