"Hearken, O ye people of my church, and ye elders listen together, and hear my voice while it is called today, and harden not your hearts;"
D & C 45:6
While investigating I was completely overwhelmed with the idea of hearing/feeling the Spirit. My faith didn't teach the Holy Spirit the same way. How in the world was I to tell the difference between the Spirit and my own thoughts and desires? I was completely dependent on Scripture. I had to see everything down in ink....and only in the Old and New Testament, thank you very much.
When I finally did become a member it wasn't much easier.....at first. In true Annmarie obsessive fashion I couldn't just sit there without knowing for sure. I read every talk available on how to hear the Spirit. I highlighted every Scripture I came across on the topic. I pestered all my friends about how they hear the Spirit. By far the most consistent answer was, "It is different for everyone, and it takes practice and experience to learn." Wow, that was discouraging to me. I wanted to know how to hear the Spirit...now!
I made the decision that if I thought something was the Spirit I should follow it. I had some guidelines for myself though. The foremost being it could not contradict Scripture. I am aware that at times the Lord appeared to tell someone something that contradicted Scripture, such as the case of Abraham's sacrifice, but Abraham has much more experience than I do in discerning the Spirit. Until I had his experience, I felt that was a good safety mechanism.
Another thought that occured to me was that if I had a good thought, one that edified someone else, it wouldn't matter if it was the Spirit or my own thought. It was a good thing to do. So off I went. Any little prompting was obeyed no matter how ridiculous it seemed to me at the time. This has worked well for me. Heavenly Father has been very kind to give me practice and evidence that it was His Spirit.
The night I began trusting my sense of the Spirit however came with something very everyday. I had the elders coming for dinner. None of my children had cooperated in school that day (I homeschool), the house was a wreck, and I only had twenty minutes to clean up a home that it looked like would take three hours. I was really fighting my pride and had no idea where to start. I plopped down onto my knees and asked the Lord to show me what was the best use of my time. I started with the Living Room. I was almost through with it when the prompting came to me to clean out the couch cushions. Now you have to understand I have four very messy children. Cleaning out the couch cushions, even when done regularly, takes forever. I began to talk back to the Spirit, "Really Heavenly Father? The couch cushions? Shouldn't I move on to the kitchen table so we actually have somewhere to eat where their aren't school books everywhere?"
His reply to my heart was "Don't ask me what to do, and then not do it." So I began pulling off the cushions and getting rid of two weeks of crayons, cracker crumbs, puzzle pieces, m & m's, even missing silverware. I did the big couch and started to move onto the loveseat, but the Spirit seemed uninterested in that small couch and said to move on to the table.
We had a pleasant dinner and visit and then the elders left. I asked the Lord, Why the couch, Father? Then the doorbell rang. It was one of the elders. "We can't find our keys." He marched right over to the big couch and pulled off the cushion where he had been sitting and there were his keys sitting on my new pristine underside of the couch. Imagine how relieved I was that I had actually obeyed the Spirit and cleaned that couch!
I know that seems silly, but that event gave me confidence. I began to trust my prompting and move forward with confidence that I was obeying the Holy Spirit. Since then, I've had much more important things depend on my obedience to the promptings of the Spirit, some with serious and spiritually vital results. I'm praying that I will always be obedient and follow His promptings as soon as He gives them. I also know that if I stop obeying, He'll stop prompting. That guidance is crucial to me, so it is important I do all I can.
I'd be happy to hear the ways you have learned to hear the voice of the Spirit, and what ways He has blessed you as a result.