The Book of Mormon opens with a vision. As the prophet Lehi prayed on behalf of his people, a “pillar of fire” appeared before him, “and he saw and heard much.” Returning to his home, while lying on his bed, the vision continued. He saw “God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels.” He saw a heavenly personage, with twelve others following him, who handed Lehi a book and asked him to read. “And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord” (1 Nephi 1:5-12).
Not long after, as Lehi and his family began their migration from their home to a new promised land, he sent his sons back to Jerusalem to retrieve a sacred record written on brass plates. When they returned, he carefully studied the record, finding that it contained the books of Moses, a history of his people, and the words of prophets. His son Nephi described the effect of this study: “When my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit” (1 Nephi 5:17).
As we study the word of God with an open heart and mind, we can receive personal revelation through the Holy Ghost. In 1830, the Lord gave the following guidance to two newly called missionaries: “The Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction; and the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things” (Doctrine and Covenants 33:16).
As I’ve pondered these passages today, I’ve had the following insight: Scripture study requires our full engagement. It is not merely an academic exercise, in which we remain comfortably objective and aloof. Rather, it is an immersive experience, in which the words on the page facilitate communication with God.
Here is how Elder Richard G. Scott described the process of interacting with scripture to receive personal revelation:
When I am faced with a very difficult matter, this is how I try to understand what to do. I fast. I pray to find and understand scriptures that will be helpful. That process is cyclical. I start reading a passage of scripture; I ponder what the verse means and pray for inspiration. I then ponder and pray to know if I have captured all the Lord wants me to do. Often more impressions come with increased understanding of doctrine. I have found that pattern to be a good way to learn from the scriptures.“How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life,” General Conference, April 2012
Today, I will strive to interact with the written word of God as Lehi did. I will read with an open heart and mind, striving to understand what the Lord wants me to learn. I will remember that my scripture study can be the gateway to personal revelation.