15. Write down what you learn.
Studying the scriptures, when coupled with prayer and (on occasion) fasting, is a principal way to seek and obtain the guidance and instruction of the Lord through the Holy Ghost. When you receive anything through the inspiration of the Spirit it is sacred, and ought to be treated as such.
"Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter. It is a sacred privilege." (Richard G. Scott, "How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life," Ensign, May 2012).One of the best ways to show your reverence and gratitude for the gift of inspiration is to record your impressions as you receive them. The practice of recording the promptings that you receive through the spirit is one of the best ways to obey the Lord’s council to “treasure up in your minds continually the words of life”. The Lord promises us that if we will do this that he will give us the answer and help that we need in the “very hour” or even “the very moment” that we need it. (See D&C 84:85, and 24:6).
"Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. That practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light." (Richard G. Scott,"Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge," Ensign, Nov. 1993, 86–88).
"Write thou My words in thy heart, and meditate diligently on them; for in time of temptation they will be very needful. What thou understandeth not when thou readest, thou shalt know in the day of visitation." (Thomas Hammerken, The Imitation of Christ, 87).It will take practice and diligence to master this principle, and you will have to work hard to develop the habit of recording your insights and questions in writing. This principle was particularly difficult for me to master, but I found that the rewards are worth the work. You will find that the things that you have written will continue to inspire and teach you when you re-read them. Often you will have forgotten that you wrote some of the things that you record, and you will be very impressed with yourself. Remember that you are actually recording the teachings of the Spirit, not your own brilliance, so don’t get too full of yourself.
I once heard a Mission President say “inspiration not recorded is inspiration lost” (He attributed this saying to Richard G. Scott). This is a true principle because this vital knowledge and inspiration comes only through the spirit, you will forget it as soon as that spirit leaves you, and if you didn’t record it, then that priceless instruction may be lost to you. Also, if you don’t show the proper care and interest in what the spirit teaches you by treasuring up his words he will eventually stop teaching you. If you persist in this attitude you will eventually lose even those truths that you have already received until the spirit withdraws entirely and you are left to your own devices.
2 Nephi 33:2 But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.
Alma 12:10-11 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.
2 Nephi 26:11 For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul.
"Many...are in danger because of lack of understanding and because they have not sought the guidance of the Spirit....It is a commandment from the Lord that members...be diligent...and study...the fundamental truths of the gospel....Every baptized person [can] have an abiding testimony..., but [it] will grow dim and eventually disappear [without] study, obedience, and diligent seeking to know and understand the truth” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Improvement Era, Dec. 1963, p. 1062).Do not take the guidance and instruction of the spirit for granted. If you go too long without his aid and inspiration you will lose even those things that you thought you had already learned. To live without the guidance of the Holy Ghost is to invite confusion, misery, and ultimately destruction. We depend on the Spirit, so it is essential that we treat him (and the things that he teaches us) with care and respect. One of the best ways to demonstrate that respect is by recording the teachings that you receive through the Spirit. Treating what you learn with care and respect shows your love for the things of the Lord. It shows that you appreciate the sacred importance of the truths that you have been taught enough to preserve them against the waste of forgetfulness.
"Powerful spiritual direction in your life can be overcome or forced into the background unless you provide a way to retain it. Brigham Young declared, “If you love the truth you can remember it” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941], p. 10)." (Richard G. Scott, "Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge," Ensign, Nov. 1993, 86–88).
"When it is for the Lord’s purposes, He can bring anything to our remembrance. That should not weaken our determination to record impressions of the Spirit. Inspiration carefully recorded shows God that His communications are sacred to us. Recording will also enhance our ability to recall revelation. Such recording of direction of the Spirit should be protected from loss or intrusion by others." (Richard G. Scott, "How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life," Ensign, May 2012).Carefully recording what you learn during your time in the scriptures helps to demonstrate to the Lord your sincere desire to be taught from on high as well as your willingness to be diligent and to work hard to obtain (and obey) that instruction and inspiration when it comes. Writing your impressions in a place and in a way that signifies their great worth and value to you is also a demonstration of the depth of your faith and your gratitude for what you have been taught. Treating the things of the Lord with respect, gratitude, and enthusiasm is a powerful way to invite the Lord to bless you with even more light and knowledge.
"Writing down what we learn, think, and feel as we study the scriptures is another form of pondering and a powerful invitation to the Holy Ghost for continuing instruction." (David A. Bednar, "Because We Have Them before Our Eyes," Ensign, May 2006).As you learn to record the teachings of the spirit that come during study you will find that spiritual instruction and inspiration comes more easily and more often than it did when you started, and that you can more easily recall those things which you have already been taught. You will also find that your capacity to discern and respond to the voice of the Spirit will be greatly increased as you become more acquainted with the Lord's teachings.
“You will find that as you write down precious impressions, often more will come. Also, the knowledge you gain will be available throughout your life. Always, day or night, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, seek to recognize and respond to the direction of the Spirit. Express gratitude for the help received and obey it. This practice will reinforce your capacity to learn by the Spirit. It will permit the Lord to guide your life and to enrich the use of every other capacity latent in your being.” (Richard G. Scott, “To Acquire Knowledge and the Strength to Use It Wisely,” Ensign, June 2002, 32–34).
Next Tip: Scripture Master Tip #16: Search For Principles