How Can I Prepare to Hear the Words of Prophets?

General conference is today and tomorrow. I’d like to get as much out of the experience as possible. Today, I took the opportunity to review some passages from the Book of Mormon about preparation to hear the words of prophets.

Open Your Ears, Heart, and Mind

(Mosiah 2:9)

When King Benjamin called his people together, he opened his sermon by urging them to take his words seriously. “I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak,” he said. He then urged them to do three things:

Instruction Promised blessing What can I do?
Open your ears Ye may hear
Pay attention to the speakers. Focus my attention on what they are saying. Avoid multitasking.
Open your hearts Ye may understand
Come prepared to learn. Expect to hear things that will challenge me, expand my perspectives, and help me grow and progress.
Open your minds The mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view
Seek for a revelatory experience. Pray for the Holy Ghost to accompany me as I listen, so that I can receive personalized messages from God.

Don’t harden your heart

(Alma 12:9-11)

In the city of Ammonihah, a lawyer named Zeezrom interrogated Amulek, attempting to prove that his teachings were false. After hearing Amulek’s testimony of Jesus Christ, Zeezrom’s attitude changed. “He began to tremble under a consciousness of his guilt,” and he began to ask a different kind of question. He was now seeking for understanding instead of seeking evidence for his previously held views (Alma 12:1, 8). Alma taught him that “the mysteries of God” are only available to people who choose not to harden their hearts. You must be willing to adapt. You must be able to set aside your preconceived notions and to give new principles a fair hearing. If you do this, your knowledge will grow. If you don’t, your knowledge of spiritual things will actually decrease “until [you] know nothing concerning his mysteries.”

“Ponder upon the things which I have said.”

(3 Nephi 17:3)

After spending a day with a group of people at the temple in Bountiful, Jesus Christ recognized that they had reached a saturation point. “I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words,” He said. Promising them that He would return the next day, He gave them some counsel about what to do to prepare for His return:

  1. Ponder upon the things which I have said.” Spend some time thinking about the implications of what you’ve heard today. What do you know now that you didn’t know before? How will that new understanding affect your relationships with other people, your approach to the challenges you face, and your efforts to draw closer to God?
  2. Ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand.” A recognition that we don’t fully understand can open the door to additional understanding. Asking for help from someone who knows more than we do is an important part of the learning process.
  3. Prepare your minds for the morrow.” By taking the time to analyze and synthesize the things they learned on the first day, the people would free up mental capacity for the following day.

Today, I will engage fully in general conference. I will pay attention to the words which are spoken. I will listen with an open mind and with a desire to learn. I will also follow up at the end of the day, ponder what I have learned, ask Heavenly Father for additional understanding, and prepare my mind to be taught again tomorrow.

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