In my belief system, spiritual promptings are somatic reactions to fluctuating electrical impulses....like pressure, a warm spot, even the subtle movement of a pendulum. They register on the human body, basically a bio-electric pulse engine, and an individual can learn to recognize the somatic manifestation through attention and practice. Look into kenesiolical response based alternative treatments like EFT and Meridian Therapy, Chakra healing, Yoga, acupressure and acupuncture, etc… The “still small voice” is often our own internal dialogue calling an integral somatic response to our attention. LDS theology suggests a similar mindset, that a somatic, physiological response of a certain order (in this case a burning in the bosom or a stupor of thought) occur as an indication of affirmation or negation in relation to an analogue request. The verbiage is archaic and based in 19th Century lexicon, but the archetypal underpinnings are concise none the less. I think the error occurs in assuming that one person’s subjective somatic response will be the same for others. Some people get a ringing in the ears, some feel dizzy, some actually get the stupor for yes and the burning for no (yea some of us are hardwired backwards it would seem).
Next time you are in the midst of prayer, in a quiet room without TV, radio, computer or your cell phone, (electrical interference, yo), your kids or your spouse…while not under the influence of drugs, alcohol, tobacco or a recent church meeting, ask for a confirmation of the “yes response’ and sit very still observing everything in your body from a slightly detached mental position. Note anything that wiggles, moves, or feels differently. Now do the same for the “no response”. Try it a few more times until you see a pattern. Try it outside of the prayer situation. Ask simple, mundane questions that you already know the answer to and observe the somatic response. Try asking short-term, future based questions with analogue yes/no answers …”will there be mail in the mailbox?” or “will my SO be home by 5:15?... and see if your response matches the actual event. Confidence grows with experience and practice.
Prayer is a science. We are machines. It is possible to apply empirical processes to learning and developing prayer-ability. It really is.