It seems to me that people in the early Mormon church talked about visions and heavenly visitations much more than they do today. I’m not sure if that means there are less visions from God, or if people just don’t talk about it as much.
In the early church, it wasn’t uncommon to have a prophet get up and talk about a vision or dream he’d had for the church as a whole. In modern times, I’ve only occasionally heard a prophet or apostle get up and discuss a heavenly dream or vision they had. The main one that comes to mind for me is when an apostle, David B Haight, gave a talk in General Conference about a vision he had of Jesus Christ.
With this in mind, I found the most recent quote from Elder Holland interesting. The following quote is from the article:
Elder Holland said that because many Africans are spiritually in tune, they experience spiritual privileges “not always seen in this day and age elsewhere in the world.” As an example, he mentioned a woman of another faith at a press conference in Sierra Leone who explained that she had seen his face in a dream. Having such an experience “isn’t a common experience in my life,” Elder Holland said, “but I think it’s quite a common one in theirs.” He said that people like her, guided by the Spirit, will identify and cling to the Church. “This is one way that God responds to their faith. It’s intuitive; it is fundamental. I’ve said repeatedly that it seems to me what life hasn’t been able to give them materially, heaven has more than made up for spiritually.”
This quote implies that if we don’t experience the gift of heavenly visions that we are not as spiritually in tune with God.
I don’t remember reading anywhere that one spiritual gift is better than another. I do remember reading that God gives the gifts out how and to whom He wants to and the Church benefits as a whole as members utilize their gifts they’ve been given. Although one gift isn’t better than the other, a person needs to be spiritually in tune to receive the gift, which is what Elder Holland is talking about, I think.
I believe that if we seek a gift humbly, and if it is God’s will to give the gift, that we can experience visions. Personally, I’ve had a couple times in my life where certain events of the future have been shown to me by God. One was at a very young age warning me that I needed to change direction in my life. The other was a vision when I was seeking guidance on marrying my wife. In both of these situations, I didn’t just sit down and pray and God granted me a vision. I needed to humble myself through fasting, worship, scripture study, and prayer. I wasn’t expecting a vision in either instance, but that is how God chose to answer me and it came unexpectedly.
As I reflect on my personal experiences, I agree with Elder Holland that the gift of having a vision is something uncommon, or at best not discussed today like it was before. Perhaps modern technology and medical advancement have clouded our spiritual senses and we don’t rely on God as we once did. Perhaps we are more materialistic and hence less likely to receive a vision. Perhaps we rely more on our own knowledge and less on God.
The more I reflect on the subject, the more I agree with Elder Holland that one must be more spiritually in tune with God to receive a vision.
What are your thoughts?