Overcoming “Roadblocks” to Reading the Book of Mormon

Reading the Book of Mormon daily (or on a routine basis) is a spiritually rewarding experience.  It can inspire us with examples of faith, obedience, courage, strength, and hope.  And, if we are faithful, it will strengthen our testimonies of the Lord Jesus Christ and teach us of His Doctrine, “the Doctrine of Christ.”  However, for some, faithfully reading the Book of Mormon daily has been a difficult practice to maintain.  For various reasons, they find it difficult to continue a regular reading schedule.  For example, they may be distracted by a busy life, or they may see parts of the book difficult to read and understand, and their original commitment to reading may wain.  I would like to address a few of these possible “roadblocks” to regular reading of the Book of Mormon.  But first, please remember, the Book of Mormon is an ancient and Holy book of scripture.  In addition to just reading the book, we should always begin our sessions with a personal and sincere prayer to our Heavenly Father.  In our prayers, ask specifically for His aid in reading and understanding what you read.  And, allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts.  (Note: For a more detailed approach to why and how to best prepare and study the Holy Scriptures, please see the post “Why and How to Study the Holy Scriptures.”)

Over the years, I have noticed there are at least a few (probably many) challenging obstacles or “Roadblocks” to reading the Book of Mormon.  These are not all bad.  Mostly, they are more of a challenge, and they can be educational.  I would like to address three.

    1. The “Stop and Go and Repeat” Problem.

Several Latter-day Saints have told me they “…love the Book of Mormon and want to read it more regularly,” and occasionally read it “cover to cover.”  However, they often admit they have never been able to read the entire book “cover to cover,” nor read much beyond 1st Nephi.  They claim to have read 1st Nephi many, many times.  Each time they get distracted and begin to waver in their resolve to continue.  This wavering usually occurs near the end of 1st Nephi, or when reading 2nd Nephi.  Then, their daily reading begins to diminish.  Typically, several days or even weeks later, when they attempt again to read the Book of Mormon “cover to cover,” they feel they must restart back at the beginning by rereading 1st Nephi.  While this is a noble idea (finish what you start), too often it just adds to the number of times they have read 1st Nephi ONLY …and stopped, …again!  I call this the Stop and Go and Repeat” problem.

Let me share two possible solutions to this “Stop and Go and Repeat” problem.  First, avoid the tendency just to start over each time …all the way back at the beginning!  Suppose you are stuck reading somewhere in the first two or three books of the Book of Mormon.  Well, just jump on over to the Book of Omni and the Words of Mormon.  These are handy little books within the Book of Mormon that will help to clear much confusion and restart your reading.

The two books contain only one chapter each.  Yet, they summarize and tie together the major events from the Land of Nephi to the beginning of the Zarahemla period (a gap of about 200 years).  The Book of Omni includes very brief entries from five different individuals, most notably Amaleki, who touched on the origin of the peoples of Kings Zeniff, Noah, and Limhi.  The Words of Mormon chapter was written about 500 years later by the Prophet Mormon (about AD 385) near the end of his life.  Mormon wrote and inserted this writing just before the Book of Mosiah to tie all other Book of Mormon records together.  In these valuable little books, the writers introduce King Benjamin (a Holy Man), a great Nephite King.  He fought and destroyed the Lamanite Army in battle and established peace in the land of Zarahemla.

So, this time, I suggest you “restart” your reading of the Book of Mormon by first reading The Book of Omni and The Words of Mormon; and then allow yourself to flow into the Book of Mosiah.  That may be all you need to get your reading back on track.  Later, you can return and reread the entire Book of Mormon from the beginning; and of course, take on the “Isaiah Chapters” another day!

A Second possible solution you can try would be to following some or all the bulleted items below.  These eleven items are just a small list and an excellent selection of significant events you can read about in the Book of Mormon.  To be sure, there are many more throughout the Book of Mormon, but these are some great reads that are sure to inspire additional reading.

NOTE: Try reading these rewarding assignments in order, but that is not necessary.  Each reference can stand alone and be inspirational!

      • Read 2nd Nephi 28-33: Nephi’s final message.  He speaks of our day.
      • Read 2nd Nephi 31-32: Nephi explains “the Doctrine of Christ.”
      • Read Mosiah 1-6: King Benjamin’s powerful sermon.  Serve our God and become Saints through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
      • Read Mosiah 7-8: Ammon finds the lost people of Limhi and teaches.
      • Read Alma 5-16: Alma’s missionary message (repent and keep the commandments), and his experiences.
      • Read Alma 17-27: The missionary work of the Sons of Mosiah to the Lamanites.
      • Read Alma 32-34: Alma and Amulek teach about faith, repentance, and redemption.
      • Read 3rd Nephi 9-30: Jesus Christ visits the Nephites and teaches “His Doctrine.”
      • Read Mormon 7: Mormon’s last recorded words of counsel.  He speaks to the “…remnant of the House of Israel” in the Last Days.
      • Read Mormon 8-9: Moroni’s inspiring completion of his Father’s record.  And finally,
      • Read all ten chapters of the Book of Moroni:  Moroni’s final words that seal the Book of Mormon and speak directly to us (all of us) in this dispensation).

These are all inspiring references to look up and read.  You could even treat these as inspiring “stand-alone” reads.  I hope you will be inspired and gain additional insights from and about our Redeemer Jesus Christ; and, some of the greatest men who have ever lived.

    1. The “Isaiah Chapters” Challenge.

Sadly, for some individuals, another barrier to successfully reading and enjoying the entire Book of Mormon is the so-called “Isaiah Chapters.”  The challenge of understanding the writings of Isaiah is real and very understandable, whether you are a new reader of the Book of Mormon or not.  I have heard several individuals express something like: “I struggle with the Isaiah chapters.  I do not understand them.”  Or, “…I cannot get through the Isaiah chapters.”  And yet, others have also asked, “How can I get through the difficult Isaiah chapters and begin to enjoy more of the Book of Mormon?”  They claim the “Isaiah Chapters” are like a wall to them.

As with the “Stop and Go and Repeat” problem, I also have two possible points/solutions (or a few) to help one read and maybe understand Isaiah and the “Isaiah Chapters.”

First, do not fret about it!

If you find yourself struggling with the “Isaiah Chapters,” just move on for now.  They are not going to go away.  You can return to them when you are ready.  For now, be flexible.  Keep the Book of Mormon handy and refer to it often.  And, try reading some of the referenced bullets above.

My Second point or solution concerns the mystique surrounding the writings of Isaiah.  If you are still struggling to read Isaiah, please do not give up.  I hope the following quotes and insights will help you strive more to understand the many direct citations and references to the Prophet Isaiah found in the Book of Mormon.  Of course, this inspired scriptural guidance (listed below) applies equally to all the Isaiah chapters, as well as the frequent references to Isaiah by other Book of Mormon Prophets (such as Nephi and Jacob).  But more importantly, the first two bullets below are commandments from our Savior Jesus Christ Himself.  Please, if you are struggling to read Isaiah, prayerfully, and seriously consider these four scriptural references:

      • The Lord Jesus Christ Himself has commanded us that we “…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” (3 Nephi 23:1).
      • The Lord added: “…ye have them before you, therefore search them” (3 Nephi 20:11).
      • The Prophet Nephi wrote, “Isaiah saw the latter-days.” He added the writings of Isaiah are “…plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy” (2 Nephi 25:4).
      • The Prophet Nephi also taught, “…they shall be of great worth unto them in the last days; for in that day shall they understand them; wherefore, for their good have I written them” (2 Nephi 25:8).

These scriptural references should help motivate each us to continue our quest and not let the “Isaiah Chapters” overwhelm us.  Remember, Jesus Christ has commanded us to read them diligently.  Isaiah saw the “latter-days.”  Many of His writings and prophecies were written for our time and provide prophetic warnings and guidance to us.  Isaiah’s prophecies are vital and of “…great worth” to us in these, the “…last days!”

Now, I recognize the writings of Isaiah are a challenge for many of us, but it is well worth our efforts to try to understand them.  The bulleted items above should motivate us to continue reading, but if we sincerely want to “understand Isaiah” better, I believe it will require much greater study and understanding of Jewish traditions, including historical and political events at the time of Isaiah.  I feel I am beginning to understand a little more, but I also know I have a long way to go.  Over time, I hope to gain a much clearer understanding and a greater appreciation for the Prophet and his prophetic writings.  I am especially encouraged by Nephi’s comment: the books of Isaiah are “…plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy” (2 Nephi 25:4).  Each day, may we all be found more worthy of the influence of the Holy Spirit; and thus, more “…filled with the spirit of prophecy.”

    1. The “War Chapters” Challenge.

I also know that some readers of the Book of Mormon have had problems with the “War Chapters.”  Thousands and thousands of bodies (men, women, and even children) slaughtered on both sides of the battles.  “Oh, the humanity!”  Human bodies are heaped up in mounds or thrown into the river to allow an army to cross over to the other side …or, just wash out to sea: so much hand-to-hand violence, death, and the smell of death all around.  I understand the visual problem, and I wish it were not necessary.

I do not clearly understand the necessity for all the carnage.  As a military man, I have seen and participated in wars and conflicts, and I still struggle to get some of the images out of my mind.  They nevertheless trouble me even today.  But I accept the counsel of “the Spirit” to young Nephi: “The Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes” (1 Nephi 4:13).  And, like Nephi, “I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:16-17).

However, I am comforted somewhat when I read about Nephi stumbling upon the drunken body of Laban in the night (1 Nephi 4:6-18).

Laban was the “keeper of the plates of brass.”  The plates contained the language, genealogies, and histories of the House of Israel.  Nephi was commanded by his Father to return to Jerusalem and get the Plates of Brass from Laban.  In their first attempt, Laban threatens Laman (Nephi’s oldest brother) with his life, …and Laman fled.  Later, they showed Laban their family gold, and silver, and all their precious things, and offered to exchange them for the plates of brass.  That effort also failed.  The brothers fled again, and Laban stole all their valuable items.  In their third attempt, Nephi went alone, “not knowing beforehand the things he should do.”  After stumbled upon the drunken body of Laban, Nephi was “constrained by the Spirit” to “Slay him.”  Nephi hesitated, but the Spirit said again, “Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands; Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes.  It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief” (1 Nephi 4:12-13).

And, if it is of any additional consolation, I have another thought on the “War Chapters.”  I can see some analogous bits of wisdom that we can learn.  And perhaps, these “bits of wisdom” can be of benefit to the Saints in the Last Days.  The bulleted items below may be a bit of a stretch, but consider how valuable they would be if we could learn them from the “War Chapters” and apply them in our personal and family life.

      • Anticipate and be prepared in advance while you can to battle evil.
      • Plan and maintain a personal strategy to defeat evil in all forms.
      • Build fortifications, walls, and barriers to protect yourself, your family, and your home from evil.
      • Build up and strengthen your defenses against evil.
      • Do not allow evil spies or enemies to infiltrate your strongholds.
      • Sharpen and fine-tune your weapons/tools to fight against evil.
      • Train before the battle.  Build strength and endurance for the fight against evil.
      • Put on the whole armor of God.  Protect the “vital parts” from evil.
      • Avoid laziness and remain vigilant against the infiltration of evil.
      • Stay healthy.  Eat wisely, drink water, exercise, and get your sleep.
      • Be self-reliant.  Have a good supply of necessities.
      • Stay out of unnecessary debt.  Build and secure a financial nest egg.
      • Have Faith in the Lord and keep the Commandments.  The “Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes” (1 Nephi 4:13).

The wars and carnage recorded in the Book of Mormon were actual events.  They occurred many years ago and ultimately destroyed the Nephite Nation.  We know there will also be conflicts in the last days.  I believe the evidence of present and future wars are all about us in the world.  I am not sure the nature of the coming battles, but I know many will be wars waged between good and evil.  And I am confident they will be wars fought both spiritually and temporally.  We need to prepare by firmly establish ourselves on the Lord’s side.

The messages and lessons of the Book of Mormon are a great blessing to us living in the “Last Days.”  We can learn from the prophets.  They warned us of wars (and the cause of wars) in their days and ours.  Additionally, we can learn much from the records of the battles fought in the Book of Mormon, and from the examples of great heroes like General Moroni, Helaman, his stripling warriors, and many others.  And, we can better prepare for whatever will come.  We must prepare ourselves, be skilled, and firmly on the Lord’s side.  Today, we are fortunate and blessed to have Prophets and Apostles to guide us.  I am confident if we follow the Prophet and stay on “the Covenant Path,” all will be well.

In conclusion, the Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  It was prepared and preserved by ancient Prophets of God.  These were some of the greatest men who have lived.  They were inspired and guided by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation.  The Book of Mormon has come forth in our day by the gift and power of God.  It contains the fullness of the Everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ and will lead the faithful children of God home to Him, our Heavenly Father and His Glorified Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.  The Book of Mormon is available today for all to read.  Following the “Doctrine of Christ,” as presented and taught in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 11), will lead the honest in heart along the path of redemption in this life …and, exaltation in the world to come.

We should prayerfully read and study the Book of Mormon!


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Answers to Prayers

I believe the Lord hears and answers the sincere prayers of the Faithful.  However, He does not always answer them in the manner, and at the time, we might expect.  We may think our concerns are of great importance and urgent, but the Lord knows all things, and He knows what is best.  A scripture comes to mind: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) To illustrate this point, I would like to share two examples of urgent prayers.

As a young missionary in the mid-1960s, my companion was severely and mortally injured in a farm accident.  As I prayed over his gravely wounded and dying body, I called upon the Lord to spare his life.  I felt confident that the Lord would answer my prayers.  After all, my companion was a faithful full-time missionary in the service of the Lord, and I had offered an earnest and heartfelt prayer.  As I labored over his body, I continued to pray quietly in my heart and mind promising the Lord, “I would dedicate my life in His service if He would just save my companion.”  Sadly, my companion was not “spared.”  I agonized for days over his loss, but eventually, I realized, my companion is now with the Lord, and he is still in His service.  But what of my faith and prayers?  Did the Lord answer my prayers; or, were they offered in vain?  Yes, the Lord answered me, but not as I had hoped.  They were the selfish prayers of a desperate young man asking for something contrary to the will of the Lord.  In the end, the Lord answered according to His will and wisdom.

Incidentally, as time passed, I reflected frequently on the death of my companion and the desperate promise I made to the Lord: “I would dedicate my life in His service if He would just save my companion.”  At one point, I remember thinking briefly: “I guess I’m off the hook now!”  However, it was a mistaken thought.  Frankly, I was wrong.  Events and consequences in this life should have no bearing upon whether we should choose the right.  Choosing to serve the Lord is always the correct decision.  Making that choice should be independent of life’s consequences.  In my case, I knew I had already decided to serve the Lord with all my might.  It was a Holy Covenant I had made previously.  One I should honor.

Several years later, another significant prayerful event occurred.  Our Stake Presidency visited our Military Servicemen’s Branch to reorganize the Branch Presidency.  In that process, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by the Stake President.  It was a great interview.  He did not call me to serve in the Branch Presidency, but later in the day, the President asked that I meet with him again.  In this second interview, he said: “Brother Edgar, we came here today to reorganize the Branch Presidency of the Bitburg Branch.  We did not plan on reorganizing the Elders’ Quorum Presidency.  However, it has become clear in my mind that the Lord wants you to serve as the President of the Bitburg Branch Quorum of Elders.  Will you accept that calling?”  I was sure the Stake President had received inspiration from the Holy Spirit, so I said: “Yes, of course.”

Then the Stake President added, “our Priesthood Meeting will begin in about 10 minutes, and we would like to sustain the new Elders’ Quorum Presidency in that meeting.”  He pointed to an empty classroom and added, “will you please go into that room and take about five minutes to pray for the names of two brethren to serve as your counselors in the presidency?”

Wow!  I knew the Stake President held priesthood keys.  I knew I had just been called by him and by inspiration.  I knew the Lord answers prayers.  I knew I was worthy.  And, I knew I had five minutes to receive an answer.  I remember thinking to myself: “Scott, PAY ATTENTION and learn!  Within five minutes, you will receive a revelation!”  There was no need to wait five minutes.  As soon as I knelt and began my prayer, two distinct names came clearly into my mind.

Does the Lord answer our prayers?  Yes, He answers prayers to advance His Great Plan of Happiness, and because He loves us.  For me, I have often prayed for what I want, but God always gives me what I need when I need it.  I have learned not to question the will nor the wisdom of God.  I just make sure the lines of communication are open.


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Pray unto the Father

Note to my Readers:  This post contains a simplified explanation of very personal insights.  They are true insights I have learned regarding sensitive and spiritual matters.  I treasure these experiences and hold them very close to my heart.  I share them here with gratitude and humility.  As you read this post, I hope you will receive it humbly and with the same spirit written.

I want to share some thoughts about “prayer, how to pray, and receiving answers to prayers.”  These thoughts are very personal.  But first, let me begin by saying I know our Heavenly Father loves each of us …all of us.  He truly is our Heavenly Father; He knows our names; He knows our struggles; He knows what we need; and, He wants to answer our meaningful and sincere prayers.  Meaningful and sincere prayer is not usually a “one-off” prayer uttered in a crisis. Instead, it comes over time through regular and humble supplication to the Father.  I know that when we faithfully and sincerely ask Him, He will answer.  Often, under the right spiritual circumstances, our sincere prayers may be answered as we pray.  However, more often, they are answered later, and in the Lord’s time.  We will probably not hear a voice.  Most likely, it will be a warm feeling of confidence or reassurance from the Holy Spirit as we move forward in faith.  And, sometimes, the answer may be a kind but simple message of “No.”  Regardless, our Heavenly Father will answer our meaningful and sincere prayers.

I want to illustrate this point by reflecting on an experience in the life of my family.  In 1984, my dear wife, Jenny, passed away suddenly.  That was a very desperate and emotional time for our family.  Instantly, I became the sole caregiver for our seven children, all between the ages of five months and 13 years; and, we were living far away in Europe.  At the same time, these children were left with a somewhat flawed and broken father who loved them more than anyone.  In the days that followed Jenny’s death, it was difficult for me to pray.  I did not blame God for her death;  I had not lost my faith.  I did not understand.  Why would God allow Jenny to die and leave us on our own?  It didn’t seem right.  We needed her more than He did (it seemed).  Of course, I was wrong!  He knows more perfectly what is best, and what we needed.  In desperation and remorse, I fell to my knees, and I began to pray more earnestly and sincerely than I had ever prayed before.  Through it all, I always knew how important my children were to Him; but I also began to realize and understand more deeply that God knows who I am …who we are.  And, I sincerely felt more than ever before that God trusted me with the care of my children, His children.  I felt that if He knew and trusted me as He did, then all would be well.  I could do this!  And, that knowledge strengthened me and made it possible for me to move forward in faith.  I haven’t forgotten that lesson.  Our Heavenly Father knows who I am, and He trusts me.  That was the answer I needed to hear.

I also realized that I was not alone.  So, early on and over time, prayer to our Father in Heaven became more and more important and meaningful to me.  Today, I look forward to my prayers because I sincerely and honestly know I can speak to Him, and He will hear me.  But what do I do to prepare for these visits?  That then is what I want to write about in this post.

Before praying, it’s important to clear my mind of distraction: try to focus.  At the same time, I try to anticipate my visits and pondering what I will say.  I spend a little time standing in a pre-selected quiet place with my head down.  I try to think about what I’m about to do and to whom I’m about to pray.  I try to be aware of my senses and seek to feel the influence of the Holy Spirit.  If I’m prepared, I will begin to sense the influence of the Holy Spirit.

When I feel ready, I try to imagine in my mind the Father looking down on me.  I ponder and try to visualize Him.  I try to imagine being in His presence …standing in His presence!  Frequently and often, I can feel the influence of the Holy Spirit before I begin to pray.  The influence comes to me as an emotional tingling about my body: and often in my head, neck, shoulders, and back.  Then, I kneel as if before Him and begin to pray with sincerity, reverence, and gratitude …and, I strive to open my mind to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the “still small voice.”

When I pray, what do I say?  Expressing gratitude is essential.  Also, I know I have weaknesses that limit my growth.  So, often my prayerful desire is to know what I lack or what I’m missing; what more I should know; and, what I should do?  I try to talk to the Father about these things.  Also, I pray for the welfare of family and others, sometimes explicitly, other times generally.  Often, I feel enlightened by the Holy Spirit concerning what to say.  At all times, and regardless of what is said, a humble and sincere attitude of gratitude is essential!

After each prayer, I like to pause while still on my knees and briefly continue to contemplate and meditate.  I try to open my mind and senses and listen for the influence of the Holy Spirit.  These are often moments that lift me spiritually above my natural condition.  I know I still have much to do to draw closer to the Lord, but each day, at the end of meaningful prayers, I always have a greater sense of hope.  And, I have a greater feeling of love and a desire to be of greater service.

I love personal prayers and these opportunities to open up and sincerely speak with Heavenly Father.  And I am so grateful for the positive and sweet influence of the Holy Spirit.


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Why and How to Study the Holy Scriptures

The Holy Scriptures are the inspired writings of holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were moved upon and guided by the Holy Spirit of God (D&C 68:3-4). Their sacred writings are contained and canonized in the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.  These men were Prophets of God!  They were some of the greatest men who have ever lived.  Their sacred and Holy Scriptural records are priceless.  And, it is miraculous they have been preserved and available for us today.  To hold and study the Holy Scriptures is one of the greatest blessings we have been given.  We can actually hold them in our hands and own a personal copy of each, quite likely translated in our native language.

Think about it!  God, our Heavenly Father has revealed truth, light and knowledge to holy prophets who have faithfully recorded His will concerning us: you and me!   In these scriptures, we learn grand and profound truths about the creation of the universe, including the Earth we live on, and the very purpose of our existence.  We also learn the truth about God our Heavenly Father: He is the God of Heaven and Earth; He is alive and well; He is perfect in all things; He is our Heavenly Father; He loves us; we are all His children, spiritually created by Him before we came to Earth; and, we lived with Him in that premortal existence.

We also learn that it is Heavenly Father’s great plan and desire that eventually, He would “…bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).  These sacred books teach of Heavenly Father’s Great Plan of Salvation for His children: including; The Creation, the Fall of Man, earthly experience, the eventual atonement made possible through His Son Jesus Christ, and the path we must follow to qualify for Eternal Life (life hereafter with God the Eternal Father). (John 17:3)

Gaining knowledge and understanding of these and many other glorious truths are the reasons we should study the Holy Scriptures.  But, the most important reason is this: we must prayerfully study the scriptures to learn and know of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God the Father in the flesh.  He is our Savior and Redeemer.  We must learn of Him, repent of our transgressions and follow His teachings and example.  Only by knowing Him and following His example can we completely overcome our separation from God (“the Fall of Man”) and return to His presence.

“Knowing Christ” includes learning the truth about His Character, Attributes, and Perfections. He is the perfect example for us to follow.  He has taught the truth, set the pattern, and provided the way for us to return to our Heavenly Father.  By prayerfully studying the life of Christ, learning of Him, following His example and loving Him, our Faith in Jesus Christ will grow.  There is a direct correlation between our knowledge of Christ and the amount of Faith we have in Him.  And, honest seekers of the truth will begin to naturally modify their lives to become more like Him.

In addition to “the Life of Christ,” and the great and eternal “Plan of Salvation,” the Holy Scriptures teach us about “the Doctrine of Christ.”  The Lord taught that His Doctrine is “…the doctrine which the Father hath given unto Me” (3 Nephi 11:32).  In simplest terms, it’s the path our Redeemer has set out which, if followed, will bring His chosen people to a knowledge of Him, and which must be followed if we are to learn of Him and receive Exaltation and Eternal Life (see 2 Nephi 31; 3 Nephi 11; 3 Nephi 15:9; D&C 76:50-70; and, 2 John 1:9).

Faithfully studying the scriptures will have an uplifting and spiritual influence upon our individual thoughts, behaviors, and personalities.  If we diligently and faithfully study and follow them, they will draw us to Christ and inspire us to be better in this life …more like the Savior, more Christlike!  And, we will be on the path to “Eternal Life.”

Now, if you’re new at this, or if you need a little refresher, here are ten (10) practical steps to follow as you Study the Holy Scriptures.  To make it easier to remember, use the letters: PSPO.”  They stand for “Pray, Study, Pray and Obey.”  But for starters, please read and follow these “Practical Steps” carefully and apply them as much as possible.  Eventually, as the Holy Spirit prompts you, this will become natural and effortless.  Over time, you’ll become driven as you look forward with excitement to your daily Scriptural Adventure.

10 Practical Steps to Effective and Inspired Scripture Study:

      1. Each day of your life strive to be obedient to your understanding of God’s commandments and worthy of the companionship of the Holy Spirit.
      2. Read and study the Holy Scriptures DAILY.  Do this faithfully.  Put it on your schedule.
      3. Have a regular (dedicated) time and place for your scripture study.  Pick a peaceful quiet setting where you will have the least amount of distractions.  Try to return to that same place, at that same time each day.  Making it a routine will help program your mind and body to be better focused and alert to receive light.
      4. Begin each study time with sincere and earnest prayer.  Among other things, talk to God about what you are about to do: for example, Read the Scriptures.  Ask specifically for the influence of the Holy Spirit that you may be inspired and receive light and knowledge.  Expect to be enlightened.
      5. Read, study and ponder the Holy Scriptures.  As you do, be open to, listen for, and anticipate spiritual promptings from the Holy Spirit.
      6. Have a pencil and paper handy!  Take written notes of spiritual thoughts or promptings that come to you while you study.  Save and remember your feelings and your notes.
      7. When a scriptural passage stands out or you feel inspired, mark/highlight your personal copies of the scriptures.  Develop your own preferred system of notes and annotations.
      8. After your study time, return to your knees and pray again to the Father.  Pray for the continued influence of the Holy Spirit.  Ask for understanding, further instruction (information), light and knowledge.
      9. Review your written notes.  Ponder about what you’ve written.  Pray about them.  And, edit them according to the promptings you receive from the Holy Spirit.  They can become a treasure of personal spiritual promptings.
      10. Strive to live each day in accordance with your growing understanding of Christlike behaviors.

Well, there you have it; practical steps for receiving Light and Knowledge as we read the Holy Scriptures.  Of course, it may seem a little structured, but give it a try.  As you do this, exercise your faith.  Your knowledge and testimony will grow, and your heart will swell with love and appreciation for the scriptures.  Your soul will also be filled with truth; and, it will grow in the pure love of God.  As your knowledge grows, exercise humility, love one another, strive to live virtuously, and pray sincerely; “…and the doctrine of the priesthood will distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven” (D&C 121:46).


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The People of the Book of Mormon

I am a visual and hands-on learner.  I can learn a subject much more quickly if I have something to look at (e.g., objects, diagrams, and maps), touch them with my hands (hands-on), and read about the subject.  I am usually a good listener, too.  So, verbal instruction also helps.  I do much better if I have multiple types of input.

That said, I have created an aid that helps me as I read the Book of Mormon.  I want to share this tool with anyone who may be interested. It is just a simple diagram of some of the significant events in the early history recorded in the Book of Mormon before the missionary journeys of Alma (the Younger), Amulek, and the sons of Mosiah.  I have not attempted to diagram the “war chapters,” nor have diagrammed the events surround the visitation of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephite people.  It is just one simplified diagram, and it is not at all to scale.  It only shows the relative associations of the key people, places, and events, as mentioned.  I hope it will be of some use to others.

NoteYou are also welcome to open and print the “Suggested Map Timeline.”  It’s a helpful tool as you read along in the Book of Mormon and follow the diagram.  Just click on the link below the diagram and print it off for quick reference.  Also note, this site is protected by both Norton Security and Web Hosting Security.  It is safe and secure!  Thank you, SAE

Suggested Map Timeline


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My Life with Animals

We have in our home a sweet little “rescue dog.”  The poor little thing spent the first five years of her life alone (or roaming with other dogs), surviving on an Indian Reservation in northern New Mexico.  Life on “the Res” can be hard on a little lost or abandoned dog.  When she was captured, the kennel staff named her “Frizz” (I wonder why?).

“Frizz’s” first day in Captivity.

At first, she was a bit “on the wild side” and a little “testy” with her captors.  However, they gave her shots, clipped her hair short with scissors, bathed her, clipped her nails, spayed her, inserted an identity chip under her skin, and gave her a new name: “Brunhilda” (or just Hildy).  To this day, she still continues to be a little “testy” with strangers (especially men), but she’s usually okay with women, and she seems to love children.  In addition, she loves our family and we love her dearly.  Oh, and we gave her a new name, “Missy.”  (The name was derived from my daughter Melissa’s name.  Melissa was instrumental in picking me up from my despair after the sudden and traumatic death of my sweet little dog, Riley.  She understood my pain and sorrow; so one day, Melissa came to me and said: “Dad, come with me.  We’re going to find you a dog!”  That was the day Melissa found our little Missy; and, “…rescued me” from sadness.)

“Fritz” as she looks today! New name, she is our Little “Missy.”

Animals have always been an important part of my life.  Mostly, I love my family and friends, but my love for animals is also high on my list.  Yes, we have been granted “dominion over all animals,” but I believe we should always be respectful and kind to them.

I grew up with dogs and cats.  They have shared my room and my life with me.  My first dog was a little Chihuahua named “Peanut.” He was a fun and loving little companion. And each night, he’d crawl under my bed covers and slept down by my feet. My first memory of severe emotional grief came when I “lost” Peanut. Many years have gone by, and many pets have come and gone, but I still have their memories in my heart and mind. As near as I can recall, I can still count and name 31 animal pets (including seven amazing horses).  As I said, I do love my family more than animals, but I have been known to say, “Generally, I like animals more than people!”  Pets (dogs in particular) are loyal and love us unconditionally; they are always happy to see us; they’re quick to forgive our mistakes; and, they never hold a grudge. I believe my love of animals was inherited from my Mother.  Mom also loved all animals, but like me, she mostly loved dogs and cats.  Animals have made me happy, and they can take away the sadness. I love all my animal friends.

Clockwise from little Riley at my feet: Josie, Blaze, Jake, and Beauty. That’s me in the middle.

Over the years, horses have become an important part of my life.  I’m sometimes not sure whether they belonged to me, or I to them.  Regardless, my first encounter with these beautiful creatures (besides watching western movies at the Saturday afternoon Matinees Theater), came on Sunday afternoons after church.  On our way home, Mom would often stop at the rodeo arena in South City to watch the weekend events.  Then there were the trips to Half Moon Bay on Saturdays to ride the trail horses.  I learned to love the smell of horses and leather saddles.

I have come to believe horses are a beautiful and divine gift from our God to us.  We know horses have been a companion to man for many centuries …perhaps forever!  Horses are an important part of our history.  And, I am confident we will somehow continue to enjoy their companionships in the hereafter.  They are strong, beautiful, loyal, trustworthy, and hardworking.  And, they like to be with us!  In addition, they make the land so much more beautiful just by slowly moving about and grazing.  I have learned a great deal working with horses. Frankly, I believe we can all learn much from them. Positive characteristics such as loyal companionship, friendship, kindness, and love all come to mind. In return, all horses ask of us is kindness, gentleness, patience, and consistency (along with regular feeding, plenty of fresh drinking water, shelter from the elements, and regular exercise).

As with most animals, horses are instinctive creatures.  They have fears about danger and self-preservation; so, they are always on the alert.  Most animals can be divided into two broad categories: Prey or Predator.  Horses are “prey” animals and are ready to bolt at the first sign of potential threat or danger. So, in working with these wonderful creatures, we must first gain and always retail their trust. They need to know who/what we are: friend or threat.  Once they know and begin to trust us, we can begin developing our relationship (or companionship).

My horses never really liked it when the Ferrier arrived to trim and shoe their feet.  As soon as he arrived, they would usually run to the back pasture and keep a constant eye on him from a distance.  (I don’t think they liked the sound of his strange truck on our property, nor the clanging noises of his tools.)  They would only come forward to the corrals if they knew I was there.  When I called out to them, only then would they trot forward and enter the corrals to have their feet trimmed and shod.  Once in the corrals, they were all very cooperative and freely gave the Ferrier their feet.

With horses, we must always remain calm and consistent: no wild behaviors, gestures, sudden movements, loud noises, or cruelty.  And, as mention above, horses need a routine on which they can rely: regular feedings; ample freshwater; and plenty of exercise.  In addition, they also need meaningful duties/tasks (a job); time allowed for free expression (turnout); and, a great deal of love, handling, and positive feedback.  The goal is to be consistent, to gain and maintain their trust, and to bond with them: to become part of their herd.  Over time, we will become their trusted friend; and, if we’re patient, they will show their love, friendship and loyalty to us.  However, throughout the process, we must always be “patient and consistent” (predictable enough that they can “read” us).  This is done by being consistently patient, kind and gentle, but firm. As noted horse trainer Buck Brannaman puts it: “Gentle in what you do, and firm in how you do it.”

A horse’s natural behavior is to “…just be a horse” …to graze, eat, walk, and drink (and run a little). Slowly walking about and grazing is important for the mind of a horse.  It is their natural behavior (and perhaps their favorite behavior).  In addition, if they’re properly cared for and feel safe and secure, horses will also provide companionship and service to us. Over the years, my horses and I developed mutually supportive friendships. These have been loving, fun and rewarding “give and take” relationships.  Most recently, I had four of these beautiful animals in my little herd: Jake (the oldest), JosieBlaze, and Beauty.  Jake and Josie are both full-sized Registered Tri-Color Paints; Blaze is a tall, grade sorrel with a blaze marking; and, Beauty is a relatively small Black grade pony (POA): a kids’ horse.  They were all very well trained and provided me hours of companionship, good work, and joy.

Lessons I learned from my Horses

In the Summers on our property, I usually turned the horses out at night to graze in the pasture. During a new moon, when the earth is in darkness, I loved walking out into the field and just standing there, taking in the peaceful majesty of the night. I also enjoyed looking into the Milky Way Galaxy above and viewing the inspiring canopy of stars in the night sky. Horses have excellent night vision, so they could see me …but I could not see them. They would always walk toward me and gather very carefully and gently around me in the field. It was inspiring when I heard and sensed those large animals approaching me out of the darkness to just stand next to me. They knew who I was, I was their friend (we were friends) and they trusted me. Those moments reminded me of a scriptural verse in the Book of Isaiah. When the Prophet wrote these words, many of the Israelites had turned away from their God, and Isaiah was lamenting: “The ox knoweth his master, …but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). Israel’s animals knew their masters (and loved them), but, as a people, Israel knew not (or had forgotten) their God, who is their Master. Today, just as in the days of Isaiah, it is essential that we know our God who loves us and provides for us (see John 17:3). This is an important lesson I learned from my work with horses.

Another lesson I learned from my horses was to “be prepared for and anticipate the morning light.”  Our ranch was situated in a beautiful mountain valley where the winter mornings can be very cold. I usually fed the horses in the mornings before the sun came up and in the late afternoon just before dark. The winter nights can be long and cold for the animals, so in the early mornings, they would usually gather together on the west side of the pasture and patiently wait to catch the first bit of sunlight as it broke over the tops of the east mountains. As for myself, I also watched for the sun to rise above the eastern horizon …because I knew as soon as it did, “immediately,” and I literally mean “immediately,” I would feel the warmth of its radiance.

This is a great lesson and a “type” of the influence of the Gospel and the Savior in our lives. Those of us who may be struggling in darkness and/or despair (whether by ignorance or disobedience) can also feel the “immediate” love and influence of the gospel in our lives when we turn from inappropriate behavior and embrace Jesus Christ. He will “immediately” bless our lives with His love and the warmth of the gospel. We may not be made completely whole “immediately,” but we will feel his love and have hope “immediately” as the “great plan of redemption” is “brought about” in us!  Pure and lasting joy will come as we learn more of Him, continue to follow Him, and embrace His Plan of Happiness.

“Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.”  (Book of Mormon, Alma 34:31)

Working with horses (and dogs and cats) has taught me many lessons, and has made me a better and happier man.


For additional insight concerning our sacred and eternal relationship with animals, please see:
Animals and the Afterlife,” by President Joseph Fielding Smith, LDS General Conference Address, October 1928; and,
The Gospel and Animals,” by Gerald E. Jones, Ensign Magazine, August 1972.


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Carpe Diem

(Definition: a Latin phrase that means “seize the day,” encouraging people to embrace the day and make the most of their time.)

My daughter, Marie (“My Marie”) turned 39 years old yesterday!  Humm, it got me thinking.  A lot has happened since that cute little girl and her six brothers and sisters lost their Mommy …and I became a single Dad.  Early on in those days, while we were all sleeping soundly in our beds, I would often awake in the night with the sense I was being watched.  Opening my eyes, I could see the shadowy image of a little curly-haired blonde girl standing by the side of my bed …quietly staring at me in the darkness.  I would always reach my arm out and softly roll her over me and onto the bed beside me.  Not a word was spoken.  She was my beautiful little Marie, and she was three years old.

Since those days (and in addition to the fact that Marie has married a man taller, stronger, and better looking than me, and she has four beautiful children of her own) life has been good.  (Random note: I love hearing my grandchildren call my daughters “Mom.” Anyway, as a family, my children and I have all grown and moved along with our lives with growing families of our own.  Yet, we still love each other and keep in close contact.  After all, we are still a family.  Despite our foibles and a few setbacks, I’m proud of our family, and I love them all.

Nevertheless, today I’m having what might be referred to as “a mid-winter introspection.”  I am 73 years old, relatively healthy, comfortably retired, and my eyes are wide open.  I have time to think!  Life has been good, and I’m a happy man!  However, I am also at a point where I’m wondering, “what more can I do?”  “What am I not doing that I should be doing?”  These are two very profound and personal questions …questions I must answer for myself.  They come to me as I ponder the following words of President George Albert Smith (1870-1951):

“We are not here to while away the hours of this life and then pass to a sphere of exaltation, but we are here to qualify ourselves day by day for the positions that our Father expects us to fill hereafter.”

As I think about these things, I am growing to appreciate more fully the value of “TODAY.”  I realize each day is a unique gift full of opportunities!  And, I need to anticipate and prepare for each day.  During my life I have had  many opportunities and blessings.  I have joy, happiness and great memories from the past.  And, I’m excited about the future.  But, “TODAY” is now!  It is what I have been given, and I control “MY TODAY.”  I am excited about “TODAY.”

Building on this idea about the value and importance of “TODAY,” I was reminded of a great quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“One of the illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year. He only is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with worry, fret, and anxiety. Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.”

So, what about my time TODAY?”  What should I be doing “TODAY?” In my retirement, this is a question I often think about.  But, frankly, it’s up to me.  “Will I make good choices?”  I’ve noticed that much of what I do each day is out of my control: sleeping, working, cleaning, laundry, taking the trash out, shopping, shoveling the snow, etc.  But, I also have adequate “discretionary time”  …free time or available time.  So, how should I use my discretionary time?  I don’t want to waste it.  I’ve also noticed, it’s difficult to fully plan discretionary time.  I don’t always know what opportunities will come my way.  But, I do know they will come.  That said, I need to be ready, willing, and looking for opportunities that come my way.  I am confident that if I’m ready, willing and diligently looking for opportunities, relying on the influence of the Holy Spirit, all will be well “TODAY,” …and, I will not miss the opportunities coming to me.  In addition, I will more likely recognize them and will know “what more I can do” and “what I should be doing.”  It’s just up to me to do it.  “Just Do It!”  Furthermore, as I do it, I will be better prepared for yet another “TODAY” full of opportunities.


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Some Christmas Favorites

THE CHRIST CHILD

Watch a beautiful and inspiring video of the events surrounding the Birth of the Christ Child.

SAINT NICHOLAS DAY CELEBRATION

A seasonal Gift-Giving tradition.  Learn about the legend of St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas).  Then, share the legend with your children.   This European tradition dates back to the 4th Century AD.

Good King Wenceslas

Read and hear the tail of “Good King Wenceslas.”  It’s a Christmas carol published in 1853 relating the story of a benevolent Bohemian king on a journey, braving harsh winter weather, to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen.  Also, watch this inspiring tail as told by Jane Seymour and the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.

OUR ANNUAL CHRISTMAS LETTER

This is a link to our most recent Edgar Family Christmas Letter


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Holy Phrases and Holy Principles

As I read the Holy Scriptures, I occasionally spot key phrases that help direct my attention to Holy and Eternal principles.  You’ve probably seen them, too.  They often reoccur and act as “attention getters” pointing our minds towards important guiding principles in our spiritual journey.  Phrases like: “thus saith the Lord…”, “thus we see…”, “further light and knowledge”, “this thing is a type” or even “Stand in Holy Places” are examples.  When we see or read these and other common phrases, they can be like signposts alerting us to what’s ahead, or what we need to consider.  They should not be passed over lightly as we rush through our daily scripture reading.  They should catch our attention and alert our senses to important recorded principles as we study.  When guided by the Holy Spirit, they can help to enlighten our understanding and prepare us for further instruction (further light and knowledge).

I like highlighting and making notes on these types of phrases.  They help me.  Some who read this may describe the practice as an example of my “Concrete, Sequential” behavior.  Others may say I suffer from an “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder” (OCD).  Be that as it may, I don’t think of my behavior as a disorder.  I just go with it and enjoy the results.  It stimulates my thinking, guides my thoughts, invites the influence of the Holy Spirit, and helps me to remember.  I find it a way to better understand what I read.  My reading feels more meaningful and more productive.

Anyway, I plan to take even more active notice of these phrases and write them down here (on this page) for further and future reference.  I have started with a shortlist, but I’ll add to it as I spot and identify additional Holy phrases.  If you are interested in adding or building onto this list, I would enjoy seeing what you may have found.  And with your permission, I would be happy to add any additional key scriptural phrases to this growing list.  Please just write them down in the “Comments” box at the bottom of this page and hit the POST COMMENT button.  Thank you for your input and insights.

Here is my current list (sorted alphabetically):

A Principle with a Promise
Act under the direction of the Spirit
Align with the Brethren
An Infinite Atonement
Become a disciple of Jesus Christ
Become more like the Savior
Belief in God “Eases the fear of death.”
Build Faith and Strengthen Testimonies
Cast Satan out
Clean as you go!
Come Follow Me
Come unto Jesus
Do the Spiritual preparation
Endure to the end (in righteousness)
Fast and Pray
Filled with joy
Follow the Prophet
Gentle in what you do.  Firm in how you do it.
Go up to the Temple
Have Faith in Jesus Christ
His hand is stretched out still
Hold to the Rod
Holiness to the Lord
Honor your Covenants
Immerse yourself in Scripture Study
It was an exclamation, not an editorial comment.
Lead like the Savior
Lift up your heads forever
Liken the Scriptures unto you
Look to the Temple
Make and Honor Sacred Covenants
Never-ending Happiness
Obey the Commandments
Peace of conscience.
Put in them their Spirits
Put on the whole armor of God
Read the Holy Scriptures
Remain True and Faithful
Repent and be converted
Retain a remission of your sins
Sanctify yourselves
Seek further Instructions
Seek further Light and Knowledge
Seek ye diligently the Kingdom of God
Stand in Holy Places
Stand spotless before the Lord
Stand with Confidence
Stay on the Path
The condescension of God
The Covenant Path
The Greater Light
The Holy One of Israel
The Hope of Israel
The Light of Christ
The Light of the World
The Love of God
They shall not be ashamed that wait for Me
This thing is a Type
Thus saith the Lord…
Thus we see…
To be Spiritually minded is Life Eternal
True and faithful

(To Be Continued!)


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Come Unto God

We are all children of a loving Heavenly Father.  He is the God of Heaven and Earth, and the Father of our spirits.  We lived with Him as His spirit children before we came to Earth.  It has been His plan from the beginning that we all follow His path and become like Him.  As part of His “Great Plan of Salvation,” our spirits were sent to Earth to be born, receive a physical body (from earthly parents), and gain earthly experience.

Before coming to Earth, we all knew and understood we would have challenges and temptations here; and, we would often make mistakes.  This life of challenges, trials, and temptations was all part of His Plan, and we agreed to it.  We knew we would need a physical body; and, we knew we would need to overcome our weaknesses and modify our inappropriate behaviors to become more like the Father and qualify for Eternal Life with Him.  This was all part of His glorious plan.  We would need to repent of our mistakes (sins) and strive to become more like Him!  As mortals, we are naturally weak and often make mistakes.  But our Heavenly Father wants us to repent, seek forgiveness, draw unto Him, and be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.  This process of repentance, forgiveness, and coming unto the Father is the process of “sanctification” (see Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 27:20).

However, in this life, we do not automatically have a clear memory or knowledge of our pre-earthly existence, nor of God’s Great and Eternal Plan for us.  In fact, many of us have little or no memory (nor even the idea) of our pre-earthly life …nor of God’s plan.  But the information is out there, and the whisperings and promptings of the Holy Spirit will guide us.  Often, the noise and distractions of the world drowned out those spiritual whisperings.  This is our challenge, but our Heavenly Father has not abandoned us!  A modern-day prophet has provided the following insight:

“My dear brothers and sisters, we live in a most difficult dispensation. Challenges, controversies, and complexities swirl around us. …our Heavenly Father never intended that we would deal with the maze of personal problems and social issues on our own. ‘God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son’ (see John 3:16) to help us (see John 17:24; 1 Peter 1:20). And His Son, Jesus Christ, gave His life for us. All so that we could have access to godly power—power sufficient to deal with the burdens, obstacles, and temptations of our day. We can protect ourselves by knowing and living by the word of God (see Ephesians 6:17–18; Doctrine and Covenants 27:18). We begin by learning about Him. ‘It is impossible for [us] to be saved in ignorance’ (see D&C 131:6). The more we know about the Savior’s ministry and mission—the more we understand His doctrine (see 2 Nephi 31:2-21) and what He did for us—the more we know that He can provide the power that we need for our lives.”
President Russell M. Nelson

Through the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit (the Revelator, a member of the Godhead), He will teach us all things we need to know.  (2 Nephi 32:5, John 16:13, and D&C 45:57)  For our part, we must seek an understanding of God’s Great Plan through prayer, study, and obedience to the truths and knowledge we receive.  Initially, our earthly parents and teachers provide guidance.  But ultimately, the responsibility is ours.  We must individually seek to understand the will of God by earnest and humble prayer to our Heavenly Father, relying on the influence of the Holy Spirit to enlighten our understanding.

Remember, our Heavenly Father truly loves all His children.  And, it is His desire that we learn of Him, learn of His plan for us, and come unto Him by following the plan as best we can.  Along the way, the Holy Spirit will guide us as we follow Him and gradually modify our behavior to be more like Him.  But, how do we get started, and how do we stay on the path?  Here are some basic principles for doing just that.

NOTE:  Please consider, only as an example, the following possible pattern for effective prayer and spiritual preparation.  This is just an idea and not a strict procedural thing.  Your personal prayers should be individual, spiritual and private …just between you and “your Father in Heaven.”  But, if you’re new at this, or it’s been a while, this pattern might be instructional.  Here you go!

Pray …Study …Pray …and Obey!

We should pray regularly and often to the Father.  Find a quiet spot without interruptions.  Return to that same spot routinely for your prayers.  When you begin each prayer, take a moment and try to visualize the Father in your mind.  Then, talk to Him.  Express your gratitude.  Tell Him of your needs and desires.  Don’t rush.  Be honest, sincere, and humble.  During each prayer, listen and be sensitive to the feelings and promptings you may receive.  As you conclude each prayer session, don’t rush.  Pause and ponder your experience.  Try to remember how you felt (and how you feel).  Make a mental or written note/journal entry of your feelings.  Look for subtle patterns in your feelings during each prayer.  Over time, if you are humble and sincere, your prayers will become more meaningful, …and effective!

In addition to your meaningful personal prayers, find a regular time to prayerfully study good books.  In particular, study the Holy Scriptures.  Over the centuries, God has spoken to His Prophets (Amos 3:7) and revealed His Great Plan of Salvation (the Plan of Happiness) to them.  Prophets and Apostles have recorded these sacred revelations, and their associated truths, in the Holy Scriptures.  Immerse yourself in scripture study.  As you do, ask the Father for enlightenment …before and after your study.  Then, keep your mind and heart open to promptings from the Holy Spirit.  As you read and ponder the Holy Scriptures, their glorious truths may fill your heart and mind.  These truths and knowledge will inspire you and provide material upon which the Holy Spirit (the Revelator) can work.  He (the Holy Spirit) will commune with your spirit and will testify of the truth to you.  And He will strengthen your testimony of that truth.  You will begin to understand and know our Heavenly Father’s plan for you!

As you learn of Him and His Great Plan for you, apply this knowledge to your personal life and behavior.   Act upon what you know! Learn to live your life in accordance with your knowledge and understanding of God’s Plan.  Remember this, your life is meant to be a journey of discovery, modification, and sanctification.  It can be an exciting and glorious journey, full of Faith, Hope …and Charity.

“For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 10:19)

“Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.” (D&C 6:7)


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