Scripture Study Tips: Patterns

The scriptures are full of patterns. Patterns are helpful to find as they are usually simple ways we can impliment the doctrines of the gospel into our own lives.

Patterns present a plan or a model for us to follow (or – at times – not to follow) (see A Reservoir of Living Water By Elder Bednar). Elder Bednar also explains that a pattern is usually pretty broad and comprehensive. Just like a pattern we may use to sew a garment, a pattern in the scriptures will give us specific steps on how to deal with something in our lives.

A few examples of patterns found in the scriptures include:

  • The Pride Cycle
    • This, of course is NOT a good pattern to follow. However, it is a great one to recognize so we can work to avoid the sin of pride from creeping up into our own lives.
  • Church Governance
  • Preaching the Gospel
  • Obtaining Eternal Life
  • Receiving Revelation

There are many more examples of patterns in the scriptures, but I’d like to take a closer look at receiving revelation.

This pattern is found very clearly stated in Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-9. This revelation was given to Oliver Cowdery (through Joseph Smith) in response to his difficulty in translating the Book of Mormon.

Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

Oliver mistakenly thinks that the Lord would have given him the ability to translate when he had done no research or real effort. He only asked the Lord for the ability. The Lord teaches him what is actually required to receive this kind of power of revelation. The Lord teaches Oliver how to receive revelation. Watch for the steps in the pattern.

“8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must 1study it out in your mind; 2then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right aI will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

9 But if it be not right byou shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.”

The Pattern for receiving revelation and direction from God:
1. Study the problem and possible solution out in your mind.
2. Ask Heavenly Father if it is right
In return:
a. Heavenly Father will cause your “bosom to burn” and you will feel that it is right.
b. You will have no feelings but, instead, a stupor of thought if it is wrong.

As we study this pattern we learn:

  • The way to receive revelation from the Lord.
  • We need to live worthy of the Spirit so that we can be open to the Lord’s revelations. Without the Spirit, there is no way to feel the nuanced impressions of revelation.
  • It is possible for us to receive communication from the Lord.
  • The Lord is interested in our lives.
  • Heavenly Father wants for us to learn and think for ourselves. Yet he wants to be involved in the process. He is teaching us how to be interdependent with Him – so that we can grow in the right way.
  • Heavenly Father loves us enough to listen to and teach us.

Understanding the pattern of revelation has been a help in my life. I have been able to implement it when I have needed help and direction. I have felt the gentle guidance of the Lord – sometimes as a confirmation that what I’m doing is good. Other times, I’ve felt the stupor of thought that accompanies his disapproval or guidance in a different direction.

The best thing about receiving the guiding direction from the Lord that comes from the proper channel of revelation is that when we make such decisions, we can be confident in our choice. Such confidence can help strengthen us as we continue along the paths of our lives.

So…the point of this is: Look for Patterns! They are interesting and informative. As you study them, they will make your scripture study applicable to your life.

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