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Becoming an Inspired Reader: 4 Tips from the Scriptures

See how Book of Mormon prophets can help us become better readers

Have you ever had to go on a long journey? What did you do to prepare? Maybe you studied a map, gathered food, or created a plan of action if you got lost. Without proper preparation, even the simplest journey can become a dangerous adventure that is best left for books and movies.Just like a long voyage, reading can be a kind of mental journey with many twisting turns and treacherous paths. Thanks to inspired ancient prophets, we can create strategies to prepare ourselves for reading any kind of text, whether for class, scripture study, or just for fun!

1: Ask questions

After their father told them about his dream of the tree of life, Laman and Lemuel asked their brother Nephi several questions. 1 By asking questions, Laman and Lemuel were able to get answers and even humbled themselves so much that Nephi had “joy and great hopes for them.” 2

Just as you would ask questions before an extended trip, always ask questions about what you’re reading. For example, “What could this mean?”, “Why would the writer say it this way?”, “Why is this part important?”, and so on. Don’t be afraid to write your questions down to help you remember or to help others who might have the same questions.

2: Make connections

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Taking notes while you read can help you make unexpected connections.
After creating a summary of the Jaredite history, the prophet Moroni made connections between his new book and other scripture stories from the Book of Mormon 3 Moroni lists times when faith led to a miracle — from Alma escaping prison to the brother of Jared seeing the Lord — to help us see how faith is the same across time. By stringing scripture stories together, Moroni helps us see the larger picture.

When you read, try choosing a theme that you notice (it could be faith, repentance, or even leadership skills), and see how previous sections relate to that theme. You’ll be surprised at how many patterns you discover!

3: Ponder

Like his brothers, Nephi wasn’t sure of the meaning of his father’s vision of the tree of life, 4
so he pondered, or thought carefully, in his heart until he suddenly had a vision of his own. By thinking through what he had heard and believing he could get divine help, Nephi was able to receive revelation. 5
Similarly, Moroni wrote that we should ponder what we read “in [our] hearts.” 6 This gives us a chance to feel spiritual promptings that help us make sense of what we read. Pondering what we read prepares us for answers that we don’t expect.

4: Inquire of the Lord

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The Restoration started because Joseph Smith took time to ponder his reading of the Bible.
Whether we are crossing an ocean or taking “PC 101: Life Skills,” the sure guides we have are our loving Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. Like Nephi, we can ask “to know the interpretation” of anything we aren’t sure about. 7 Moroni advises us to ask God because, through the power of the Holy Ghost, we “can know the truth of all things," from software development to ministering. 8

For any journey, it’s dangerous to go unprepared. By asking questions, making connections, taking time to ponder, and asking for divine help, you’ll be prepared for anything!