4 Wherefore, hearken, O my people, which are of the house of Israel, and give ear unto my words; for because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy. But I give unto you a prophecy, according to the spirit which is in me; wherefore I shall prophesy according to the plainness which hath been with me from the time that I came out from Jerusalem with my father; for behold, my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn.
(2 Nephi 25:4)
After quoting thirteen chapters of Isaiah, Nephi comments on his people’s negative reaction to those words. He explains to us that many of his people didn’t understand Isaiah because they weren’t familiar with “the manner of prophecying of the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:1-2). But then, in the passage above, he explains another reason that many people don’t understand Isaiah: because they don’t have “the spirit of prophecy.”
As Joseph Smith learned in 1831, true gospel learning requires both an inspired teacher and an inspired student. (See D&C 50:17-22.) One of the roles of the Holy Ghost is to help us understand the truths we learn from other people, including through the scriptures. Therefore, if we have the Spirit with us as we read, the words of the scriptures will be “plain” to us as Nephi says in the passage above.
Furthermore, as Elder Dallin H. Oaks has taught, studying the scriptures with a proper attitude can help us to receive the Holy Ghost:
The idea that scripture reading can lead to inspiration and revelation opens the door to the truth that a scripture is not limited to what it meant when it was written but may also include what that scripture means to a reader today. Even more, scripture reading may also lead to current revelation on whatever else the Lord wishes to communicate to the reader at that time. We do not overstate the point when we say that the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to assist each of us to receive personal revelation.
Because we believe that scripture reading can help us receive revelation, we are encouraged to read the scriptures again and again. By this means, we obtain access to what our Heavenly Father would have us know and do in our personal lives today. That is one reason Latter-day Saints believe in daily scripture study.
Similarly, what a scripture in the Book of Mormon meant to me when I first read it at age sixteen is not conclusive upon me as I read it at age sixty. With the benefit of my life’s experiences and with my greater familiarity with revelation, I can learn things that were not available to me yesterday by reading the scriptures today (“Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, January 1995)
Today, I will seek to be receptive to the influence of the Holy Ghost as I study the scriptures. I will remember that the Holy Ghost will help me to better understand the meaning of the scriptures, and that I can also receive personalized inspiration as I study.