First Nephi 4:6-18
Nephi's experience with revelation from God grew step by step, line upon line, as it were.
1. First, he cried unto the Lord regarding the teachings of his father, Lehi. "And behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart". 1Ne2:16
2. Then, after his brothers would not hearken to his words concerning his experience above, he cried unto the Lord for them. This lead to direct revelation. "The Lord spake unto me" 1Ne2:19
3. He and his brothers were visited by an angel who gave them directions. 1Ne3:31 Note the stark differences in the brothers' reactions to the Angel's message.
Nephi had no idea what he would eventually do to get the brass plates, but the Spirit led him to Laban's house. 1Ne4:6
4. When he saw Laban drunken before him, the next revelation came as a real time communication from the Spirit, where Nephi was basically having a conversation. Ponder for a minute how that happens. Their communication was beyond impressions and feelings - he was able to hear direct and specific words in response to the thoughts of his heart. The voice of the Spirit not only gave him a direct commandment, but reasoned with him as to why he should do it.
This event of revelation built on Nephi's previous experiences with the Spirit as well as made it easier for him to have greater revelations in the future, such as his vision of the tree of Life, where he actually saw the Spirit face to face.