My mission president said one thing to us that has left a profound effect on me. He said, “We talk to God through prayer, and he answers us through the scriptures.”
In my life, there’ve been a few exceptions to this general rule, but by and large, I found it to be true. This is why prayer is number one on my list, and scripture study is number two. I’ve found that if I’m praying about something, I’d better be crackin’ open the books, because
- I might come across a scripture that I’ve read a thousand times before, and suddenly have the answer I need. It has happened that a verse will suddenly show me a slightly different application that I’ve always thought of it before, and that will be what I needed to know.
- Even when I don’t have a specific verse answer my questions, sometimes a story that I’m reading, or a chapter will lead my thoughts to the answer.
- Sometimes, my answer isn’t connected to the scriptures at all, but the fact that I’ve been reading regularly means that I’ve been opened up (spiritually) to receive the answer.
At times I wonder about those that leave the church. I’ve know some who’ve spent a significant amount of time reading the anti-mormon theories and refutations. I often wonder if they’d set that much time and effort into reading the scriptures, if their testimonies would have strengthened instead of weakened.
I know that I went through a time of wondering about Joseph Smith. My response was to reread the Doctrine and Covenants. That was a powerful thing for me and my testimony. I do understand that he was a normal, flawed human being. I also strongly believe that the Lord uses people like that, like me, to accomplish his tasks here on earth. I don’t believe that Joseph Smith was inherently more or less divine than any of us. He did, however have a much more direct calling than I do.
And it’s up to me to understand his calling, and his work. Because it was the work God called him to do. And anyone who doubts should study the D&C. Read the words of his detractors, or read his own words. It will clear it up.