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Read, Study, and Ponder the Scriptures

Read, Study, and Ponder the Scriptures

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we know that the scriptures consist of four standard works, and all words spoken, “as . . . moved upon by the Holy Ghost” “unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood” (D&C 68:2, 3). It is therefore important for some to acquire the habit and for others to continue reading, studying, and pondering the scriptures because there is a great benefit and blessings for our progression.

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, explained the difference between reading, studying, and pondering. He said: “Our humility and our faith that invite spiritual gifts are increased by our reading, studying, and pondering the scriptures. . . . “
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But reading, studying, and pondering are not the same. We read words and we may get ideas. We study and we may discover patterns and connections in scripture. But when we ponder, we invite revelation by the Spirit. Pondering, to me, is the thinking and the praying I do after reading and studying in the scriptures carefully” (“Serve with the Spirit,” Liahona, Nov. 2010, 60).

In the early years of the Church in 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith urged everyone to search the scriptures in order to gain knowledge of God and not to be dependent on man. He said: “Search the scriptures. . . . You will then know for yourselves and not for another. . . .” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 11–12).

First, we understand that the scriptures are the Lord’s voice. President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95) taught that “God’s will has been revealed in the scriptures, and for this reason we have been commanded to read them to find the truth” (Teaching of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter [2015], 145). Sometimes we are embarrassed and do not know what to do, but the scriptures help us to distinguish truth from error. “Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).
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Then we understand that the scriptures are a guide and a lamp unto our feet. “Let the scriptures be your guide, and you will never find yourself traveling the road to nowhere” (Teachings of Thomas S. Monson [2011], 275). These scriptures are the only guides and means by which we can measure the truth and doctrine and know whether they are of Christ. “I promise you . . . that if you will study the scriptures diligently, your power to avoid temptation and to receive direction of the Holy Ghost in all you do will be increased” (Thomas S. Monson, “Be Your Best Self,” Liahona, May 2009, 68). “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

Finally, we understand that the scriptures are lights and answers to our questions. “If we will energetically pursue this worthy personal goal [to study the scriptures] in a determined and conscientious manner, we shall indeed find answers to our problems and peace in our hearts” (Teaching of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 66). Pondering invites the Light of Christ. As the prophet Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) said: “As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me . . .” (D&C 138:11).
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(D&C 138:11). Through pondering the scriptures, Joseph Smith received an answer to his prayer, and that opened the door to the First Vision and the great work of the Restoration. “[The scriptures] expand our memory in another sense by teaching us about epochs, people, and events that we did not experience personally” (D. Todd Christofferson, “The Blessing of Scripture,” Liahona, May 2010, 33).

This invitation to read, study, and ponder the scriptures concerns everyone. No one is excluded. In this regard, President Monson taught this: “The holy scriptures are for children, to fill their eager minds with sacred truth. They are for youth, to prepare them for the challenges of our fast-moving world. They are for the sisters, remembering President Spencer W. Kimball’s advice: ‘We want our sisters to be scholars of the scriptures as well as our men’” (Ensign, Nov. 1978, 102). They are for the brethren of the priesthood, that each may qualify for the description given in the Book of Mormon to the sons of Mosiah: “. . . they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God . . .” (Alma 17:2) (Teachings of Thomas S. Monson, 274).

“We should not be haphazard in our reading but rather develop a systematic plan for study. . . . It is better to have a set amount of time to give scriptural study each day than to have a set amount of chapters to read” (Teachings: Howard W. Hunter, 149). That time can be in the evening after a busy day to receive strength and comfort, or very early in the morning when you have forgotten the worries of the past day.
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I conclude by quoting President Thomas S. Monson: “I reiterate what we have been told repeatedly—that in order to gain and keep the faith we need, it is essential that we read and study and ponder the scriptures” (“Be an Example and a Light,” Liahona, Nov. 2015, 87).

I testify that the best way to avoid the evils of this world is to nourish our spirit with truth and righteousness contained in the scriptures.