2 Ne 32:3 feast upon the words of Christ
The scriptures were not given to us for an occasional perusal, a casual reading, or a brief history lesson. They were given for us to "feast" on the words of Christ. This implies something much more than just reading. It implies that the scriptures are satisfying a powerful spiritual hunger and quenching a thirst for the things of the Spirit. Those who most enjoy this "feast" are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. The promise is given to them that they will be filled with the Holy Ghost (3 Ne 12:8). This occurs most of the time as the individual feasts upon the words of Christ in the scriptures. The spiritual food is internalized and becomes a part of the individual. Spiritually speaking, "you are what you eat." The other verb that the scriptures use to describe our approach to scripture study is "to search."
Scriptures are of little value unless they are feasted upon and searched. They are useful if they are "read," but the term "search" implies something totally different. To "search" is to try to understand, to look for personal meaning, to understand historical context, to reference other sources, to find resolution to conflicts, and to internalize principles. The Lord has never commanded the saints to "read" the scriptures; He always commands them to "search" them: search them diligently that ye may profit (Mosiah 1:7)....and search these things diligently, for great are the words of Isaiah (3Ne 23:1). The result of diligent searching is that one becomes as the sons of Mosiah who had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth (Alma 17:2).
Bruce R. McConkie
"Loaves and fishes perish, but there is a food which is eternal, 'which endureth unto everlasting life.' This is the food he is prepared to give them; it is the everlasting word, the word of truth, the gospel of salvation. As the woman of Samaria was invited to drink living water and never thirst more; so they were invited to eat living bread and never hunger more. This bread was available, without money and without price, from the Son of Man." (The Mortal Messiah, Book 2, p. 371)
Ezra Taft Benson
"More than at any time in our history we have need for greater spirituality. The way to develop greater spirituality is to feast on the words of Christ as revealed in the scriptures. One of the most significant happenings in recent Church history is the publication of the new editions of the standard works with the new footnotes and other helps. I think we can say without exaggeration that never before in any dispensation have the Saints been so abundantly blessed with the words of the Lord and His prophets. Now our challenge is to do as the Lord commanded: "Study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men" (D&C 11:22). (Conference Report, April 1984, p. 7)
Elder Rulon T. Burton
"I add my voice to these wise and inspired brethren [referencing President Spencer W. Kimball, Bruce R. McConkie and Boyd K. Packer] and say to you that one of the most important things you can do as priesthood leaders is to immerse yourselves in the scriptures. Search them diligently. Feast upon the words of Christ. Learn the doctrine. Master the principles that are found therein. There are few other efforts that will bring greater dividends to your calling. There are few other ways to gain greater inspiration as you serve." (From the General Priesthood Meeting, Apr. 1986, as quoted in the Ensign, May 1986, p. 81-2)
2 Ne 32:4 if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock
Nephi had learned by personal experience how to understand scriptures that he did not understand. He would simply ask the Lord for more understanding. This is exactly how he received his vision of the tree of life (1 Ne 11:1). Afterward, his brothers contended about the meaning of Lehi's vision, exclaiming, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken. Nephi's response was as follows:
'And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?
And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.
Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts?
Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?--If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.' (1 Ne 15:8-11)
2 Ne 32:5 the Holy Ghost...will show unto you all things what ye should do
Sometimes we tempt God with our demands for divine direction. We expect the Holy Ghost to show us what to do without immersing ourselves in the things of the spirit-searching the scriptures, attending the temple, prayer and fasting, etc. These are the times when we don't receive the direction we expect. The directive in this verse is that we must receive the Holy Ghost. This means not just receive the gift of the Holy Ghost but to receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost through righteous living and frequent involvement in activities which give the opportunity for the Holy Ghost to whisper in his still, small voice. If we do this, we have the promise that He will show us all things that we should do, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matt 7:7).
2 Ne 32:7 the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Now what were the consequences of not praying, as they are recorded in this book regarding the Nephite people? Let me tell you. In the very same chapter, and in the verse preceding...Nephi says this:
"'Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh...When he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you ye shall observe to do. And now I, Nephi, cannot say more.'
"Why not? Because the people had refused to pray. Because they had hardened their hearts, even in his day. Therefore the Lord closed his mouth, and said, there shall be no more doctrine till Christ comes, so far as you are concerned, and I cannot say more, because the Lord won't permit it.
'The spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief and the ignorance and the stiffneckedness of men, for they will not search knowledge nor understand great knowledge when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.' Now that applies in our day. We have members of the Church to whom this ought to be read. They are not here; they do not come to conference. But men who have hardened their hearts, men who will not pray, men who will not search knowledge, who are not acquainted with the revelations of God as they have been made known unto us in these books and given unto us in this dispensation, notwithstanding the fact that the knowledge which has been given unto us is plain and easily to be understood. They shut their hearts against it, and refuse to search and to find that which the Lord has declared, which is for their eternal salvation and the salvation of all the world. Naturally such people are in darkness. We cannot afford to do that." (Conference Reports, Oct. 1919, p. 145)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Revelation is promised us through our faithfulness; so, also, is knowledge pertaining to the mysteries and government of the Church. The Lord withholds much that he would otherwise reveal if the members of the Church were prepared to receive it. When they will not live in accordance with the revelations he has given, how are they entitled to receive more? The people in the Church are not living in full accord with the commandments the Lord has already required of them.
"...We have little occasion to clamor for more revelation when we refuse to heed what the Lord has revealed for our salvation. However, the authorities are directed by revelation, and this is apparent to all who have the spirit of discernment. The Lord has not forsaken his people, although they have not always put their trust in him." (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 283)
2 Ne 32:8-9 the Spirit...teacheth a man to pray...ye must pray always
The Lord has instructed us not only in the method of prayer (to pray to the Father in the name of Christ) but to pray regarding every endeavor in which we perform any thing unto the Lord. Amulek also taught us what we should pray about:
'Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.
Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.
Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.' (Alma 34:17-27)
The counsel of Alma to his son, Helaman:
'Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.' (Alma 37:36-37)
Bruce R. McConkie
"There is nothing in the gospel that is better designed to keep the attention of men centered on God, on righteousness, and on their duties than is prayer. Every thought, word, and act is influenced or governed by the nature and extent of one's communion through prayer with Deity. Over and over again the revelations command: Watch and pray always, lest ye enter into temptation." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 581-2)
"We would say to the brethren, seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields. Follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over, and for your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess; ask the blessing of God upon all your labors, and everything that you engage in. Be virtuous and pure; be men of integrity and truth; keep the commandments of God; and then you will be able more perfectly to understand the difference between right and wrong-between the things of God and the things of men; and your path will be like that of the just, which shineth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 247)