20. Search, Ponder, and Pray
I have already talked about the importance of quality and not just quantity when it comes to time spent studying the scriptures, but you need to understand that not only is reading the scriptures not enough, but even study by itself is inadequate. Nor is it sufficient to casually ask the Lord for answers. You must learn to deeply search, ponder, and pray.
“The treasures of both secular and spiritual knowledge are hidden ones—but hidden from those who do not properly search and strive to find them....Spiritual knowledge is not available merely for the asking; even prayers are not enough. It takes persistence and dedication of one’s life....Of all treasures of knowledge, the most vital is the knowledge of God” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 389–90).
"Our humility and our faith that invite spiritual gifts are increased by our reading, studying, and pondering the scriptures. We have all heard those words. Yet we may read a few lines or pages of scripture every day and hope that will be enough. 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." (Henry B. Eyring, "Serve with the Spirit", Ensign, Nov 2010, 60).Searching, pondering, and praying may sound like separate precepts, but they actually constitute one united principle, each component of which is inseparable from the others.
- Search: Most of this post has been dedicated almost entirely to searching the scriptures. The word "search" is important to highlight however because it denotes careful and diligent scrutiny of the scriptures on a level that goes beyond mere reading, and even beyond the study of the scriptures. Imagine you are searching for a child lost in the ruins of a building in the aftermath of an earthquake. Surely you will not stop digging until you have found the one for whom you are searching. We are meant to delve into scripture with the same urgency.
- Ponder: What does it mean to ponder something? According to the dictionary it means "to weigh carefully in the mind; consider thoughtfully" (Dictionary.com). Synonyms include words like "meditate", "consider", and "contemplate". All of these things apply, but there is also a certain greater discipline that is required of us when we ponder the things of God. Pondering is more than just abstract meditation or introspection. When we ponder gospel truths we learn wisdom and understanding. This greater understanding grants us a greater ability to discern practical applications and solutions from the scriptures and then requires us to act upon what we have learned.