It is with our voice that we communicate ideas, emotions, and our personality. We recognize people through their voice. Babies smile when they hear their parents’ familiar voices.
The Topical Guide to the scriptures lists 107 matches for the word “Voice.” Enoch and Moses are two prophets that expressed challenges in their speech abilities, but the Lord acknowledged their concerns and counselled them to open their mouths and teach the gospel (Moses 6:31-32; Exodus 4:10-12). The scriptures have many examples of the positive effects of vocal prayers: Enos “cried unto him in mighty prayer” (Enos 1:4); Helaman’s son Nephi bowed on the tower in his garden and “he did exclaim in the agony of his soul” (Helaman 7:6). Joseph Smith’s first “attempt to pray vocally” was answered with the presence and voices of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (Joseph Smith—History 1:14-17).
Experiencing a Season of Silence
My voice stopped working properly in January 2017. I didn’t have enough air to speak, only the ability to make stuttering sounds. The result was 2 ½ years of quiet. I found myself often asking, “Do I really need to say that?” It was such a struggle that for months a friend acted as my voice bodyguard—she kept people from speaking to me to save my strength. I am grateful for her protection. It was a season of quiet: “To every thing there is a season … A time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7).
This was an experience where I learned to appreciate my voice because it no longer functioned properly. There are so many limitations that arise when you lose your voice: the reactions from other people are mixed. Fortunately, I only had one experience where my inability to speak properly was mocked. Often, I used written notes to help communicate large blocks of needed information. I found myself wanting a personal secretary like President Spencer W Kimball: D Arthur Laycock read his general conference address on April 3, 1982 (“Remember the Mission of the Church,” Ensign, May 1982).
The Power of Voice Accompanied by the Holy Ghost
There are myriads of ways to communicate. The written word “shall go from generation to generation” (2 Nephi 25:22). There is body language where, with a simple look, many thoughts can be communicated. Music can communicate complex emotions that cannot be expressed in any other way. Images in the form of paintings and photography are forms of communication. When the Holy Ghost accompanies a voice, however, there is something that raises above all the other modes of communication.
An angel spoke to Mary (Luke 1:28) and the shepherds (Luke 2:10). At the empty tomb when Jesus said “Mary,” she immediately recognized Him (John 20:16). It was Heavenly Father’s voice that introduced His “Beloved Son” to the Nephites (3 Nephi 11:7).
Brother L. Aldin Porter explains, “There is such power in the witness of the spoken word. The voice has the capability to reach the heart of man in a remarkable manner. When that voice is accompanied by the Holy Spirit, there is light and truth. That light and truth is enjoyed by the speaker as well as the listener” (“He is Risen,” in Go Ye into All the World: Messages of the New Testament Apostles, 31st Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium , 1–12).
Blessings can come to both the speaker and the listener through the influence of the Holy Ghost. Alma believed: “And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God” (Alma 31:5).
Nephi expressed a similar belief about the power to be found in the voice accompanied by the spirit: “when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1). The spiritually inspired human voice is a great gift given unto us by a loving Father in Heaven.
With our voices we make covenants with our Father. With our voices we pray and worship and praise Him. With our voices we testify and bear witness of Him.
Testifying Again of Jesus Christ
I waited upon the Lord and His timing. I was led to a voice clinic and received the diagnosis of muscle tension dysphonia. A speech pathologist with the needed knowledge and skills guided me through several exercises that restored my ability to speak. I cannot comprehend it, but my voice is normal again.
The question I now ask myself is, “What will I do with my voice?”
The Lord has urged us to use our voices to “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet” (Isaiah 58:1). When The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, members were counselled to “visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:47).
I was able to stand in fast and testimony meeting in July 2019 and use my voice to testify of a loving Heavenly Father. I felt the influence of the Holy Ghost. My voice felt strong, powerful and true as I expressed my knowledge of the divinity of Jesus Christ, the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and the abundance of tender mercies I have received.
I hope that my experiences in losing my voice can invite and inspire each one of us to seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost and use our voices righteously.