After quoting a chapter from the book of Isaiah, Jesus emphasized the importance of studying the scriptures:
I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah….
Therefore give heed to my words; write the things which I have told you; and according to the time and the will of the Father they shall go forth unto the Gentiles.
And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things.3 Nephi 23:1, 4, 5 (italics added)
In 1829, Joseph Smith’s older brother Hyrum wanted to know how we could participate more fully in the work of the Lord. Joseph received a revelation in which the Lord gave commanded Hyrum to study. He would have opportunities to preach the gospel in the future; for now, he needed to focus on learning. Here are some of the specific instructions the Lord gave to Hyrum in this revelation:
- “Give heed to my word” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:2).
- “Seek not for riches but for wisdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:7).
- “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:21).
- “Study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men [the Bible], and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men [the Book of Mormon], or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:22).
- “Treasure up in your heart until the time which is in my wisdom that you shall go forth.” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:26).
The manual Preach My Gospel gives the following guidance to missionaries:
Many missionaries struggle to know how to study effectively. Some rely heavily on others or on structured programs to tell them what and how to study. While learning from a good teacher is very important, it is more important for you to have meaningful learning experiences on your own. Getting good results from your study depends on having a strong desire to learn, studying with “real intent” (Moroni 10:4), “hunger[ing] and thirst[ing] after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6), and searching for answers to the questions and concerns of those you are teaching.Preach My Gospel, Chapter 2: “How Do I Study Effectively and Prepare to Teach?”
We don’t always know when we will have an opportunity to teach. Questions may come from our children or from others at unexpected times. They may be ready to learn when we are unprepared to teach. Elder Devin G. Durrant said:
As a father, I am motivated to personally study and ponder the scriptures in order to be able to respond when my children or grandchildren present an on-call teaching opportunity. “Some of the best teaching moments start as a question or concern in the heart of a [family] member.” Are we listening during those moments?
I love the Apostle Peter’s invitation: “Be ready always to give an answer to every man [and I add, child] that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”“Teaching in the Home—a Joyful and Sacred Responsibility,” General Conference, April 2018
Today, I will give heed to the word of God. I will study the scriptures and the words of modern prophets. I will remember that, because I can’t control when I will be called upon to teach, the time to prepare is now.