“They Heard a Voice”

Church Educational System

Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that the “small voice” that caused “their hearts to burn” (3 Nephi 11:3; italics added) was more of a feeling than a sound: “The word ‘burning’ in this scripture signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity” (“Teaching and Learning by the Spirit,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, 13). Serenity means warmth, gentleness, and calmness.

Just as the Nephites had to “open their ears” (3 Nephi 11:5) to hear the voice of God, President Boyd K. Packer explained our need to pay attention so we might feel the gentle promptings of the Spirit:

“The voice of the Spirit is described in the scripture as being neither ‘loud’ nor ‘harsh.’ It is ‘not a voice of thunder, neither … voice of a great tumultuous noise.’ But rather, ‘a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,’ and it can ‘pierce even to the very soul’ and ‘cause [the heart] to burn.’ (3 Ne. 11:3; Hel. 5:30; D&C 85:6–7.) Remember, Elijah found the voice of the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but was a ‘still small voice.’ (1 Kgs. 19:12.)
“The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. (No wonder that the Word of Wisdom was revealed to us, for how could the drunkard or the addict feel such a voice?)
“Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53).

Book of Mormon Student Manual (2009 Edition)