Friday, October 4, 2013

Why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?

After Nephi writes concerning the doctrine of Christ1, he feels compelled to continue.  He feels as if, even after he has spoken with plainness, his audience (us!) do not understand what we should do.
  2 Ne. 32:1 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?
Well, why shouldn't I ponder these things in my heart?  Isn't that what every teacher wants—for their students to reflect on what has been taught?
  2 Ne. 32:2 Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels?
Sure, but what does that have to do with anything?
  2 Ne. 32:3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
  4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
  5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
Okay, so once I have the Holy Ghost, I will have the words of Christ?  That doesn't sound so hard.  Why didn't you just say so in the first place?
  2 Ne. 32:8 ... it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
Now I see. The problem was not that we were pondering. The problem was that we did not ask the Lord, through prayer, to enlighten our pondering by the power of the Holy Ghost.*
  2 Ne. 32:9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.
If only we would pray and ask the Lord for His guidance before we waste our energy on trying to figure it out for ourselves, our pondering would be consecrated for the welfare of our souls.  There is nothing wrong with pondering, in fact, it is highly encouraged.[2-3]  We fool ourselves, though, when we think that we can figure out what the Lord wants for us without asking him.[4-5]

1. 2 Nephi 31:2-3
2. 1 Nephi 11:1
3. D&C 9:7-8
4. 1 Nephi 15:8,11
5. Isaiah 55:8

* While the tone of these questions may seem snarky, it is not my intention to be irreverent. As I studied this chapter, I noticed that Nephi seems to be frustrated. It took multiple reads of this chapter before I could put my finger on the cause of his frustration. The questions I pose in this article are somewhat reflective of my thoughts as I struggled to understand Nephi's meaning. (Apparently he was justified in his frustration with me...)

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