The Need to Study
by Rae Simmons
The feeling that I had a responsibility to study began when I reread my patriarchal blessing one summer, under the urging of the Spirit-when I finally allowed myself to hold it up as a guide for my spiritual growth. I might insert here that my blessing uses some very powerful language as to how the Lord would like to use me for his work if I allow him to do so. And there are some very specific guidelines to follow to this end. I mention this because the first and foremost instruction is to study.
The best reason I can put forth for the importance of study is in Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."
Like many of us, I had no real idea how to begin. I asked my pastor and a couple of other friends for suggestions, and I made a sincere effort to begin.
Recently, I read some words by Thelona Stevens that struck a very personal chord. In an article about her efforts to learn to study she refers to "the dreaded hour" she'd set aside for study. She said it was such a chore at first, she really didn't learn a lot because her comprehension was very limited. Then she realized she hadn't ever asked her Heavenly Father for help. She'd been struggling because, as she said, she had no one to study with, she had no one to help her, and she had no teacher. It was a long time before she realized she did have a wonderful teacher-her Heavenly Father (see Recent Book of Mormon Developments, vol. 1, 1984:103-104).
This is what I've found in my own life. The Lord has guided me through every step of my efforts. Looking back I can see that he has used my friends and family to direct my course. They have sent me tapes, reading material and have referred me to certain books. The depth of my material has grown as I have grown and my knowledge has increased.
In an article on study by Ray Treat, he says there are three levels of interest: 1) castor oil; 2) dry cereal and; 3) peaches and cream. Castor oil people study only when forced to; they may dust off a book to look up a scripture for the early morning worship service. Dry cereal people study occasionally and they realize it's not that bad, but it's not a priority either. But peaches and cream people have experienced a breakthrough. They can't get enough! (see Recent Book of Mormon Developments, vol. 1, 1984:144; 148-153).
The time came when I tried to honestly evaluate my level of study. I felt it was more than dry cereal, but I knew it wasn't peaches and cream! Then a few weeks later, I made a breakthrough. Study is no longer a responsibility, or even a pleasant pastime. It's now a joy I can indulge in for hours.
Thelona Stevens said she had prayed for years that the Lord would use her in his work. One day as she was speaking to a large group of people about the importance of studying and becoming familiar with the words of their Heavenly Father, the Spirit spoke to her mind and said "Remember all those years you prayed that I would use you? I was unable to answer those prayers until you had studied and learned what you must know so I could use you where I chose to."
The Lord wants to use us. He has something planned for each of us to do. But he can only use us to the extent we will let him. We tie his hands until we prepare ourselves. He cannot bring to our minds, in time of need, those things we should know, unless we've first put them into our minds through study.
The Book of Mormon tells us there is much more scripture the Lord has to bring forth, but this is only for those who use efficiently that which they have. If we don't use what we now have, even that will be taken from us. Now that doesn't mean someone will come to your door and confiscate your three standard books. But what happens to something you set aside for a period of time? It gets misplaced-you lose it (Matthew 13: 10-11).
But this doesn't mean that we must begin with a long, involved course of study. Just choose something that interests you and begin there. I began with the New Testament in order to become more familiar with the teachings of Christ. Then I began to feel drawn toward the Book of Mormon. So I reread it with much related study material, and recently I've been led to the prophecies and how they relate to our day. When I began I could not have dreamed the direction my studies would take. But we are promised that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth if we will do our part. I can promise you that if you make the initial effort, with a sincere desire to learn what the Lord would have you know, he'll guide your learning. And what could be more exciting than knowing that your Heavenly Father is your teacher, that he is choosing your study material, guiding you, enlightening your mind to the things he wants you to know!
As Nephi tells us in Second Nephi 14:4
Feast upon the words of Christ;
For behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things
what ye should do.
This article taken from Recent Book of Mormon Developments vol. 2 p. 161-162.