The access that we have to information has shaped our ability to do things on our own, from home improvement projects to building a personalized music playlist. Education Week presenter David B. Marsh, a manager of development and design for the LDS Church, said we should similarly take charge of our personal gospel study and become a self-reliant people.
When Marsh first returned from serving an LDS mission, he relied on firesides to give him the spiritual nourishment that he was lacking. He was being spoon-fed by other people’s testimonies because he didn’t know how to continue to build his own. Marsh realized that in order to grow and have his own spiritual experiences, he needed to learn how to study the gospel on his own.
“Personal gospel study is the only way to receive the best spiritual experiences,” Marsh said.
Based on research done at BYU, desired life outcomes are most easily achieved when personal gospel study becomes routine. The greatest causation of personal study is to first have regular family gospel study.
As a previous institute and seminary teacher, Marsh quickly realized that the greatest thing he could teach his students was how to teach themselves. Personal gospel study is our own responsibility, he says, and it is going to be the only thing that will keep us safe in the church.
Marsh shared three skills that a person can develop to study the scriptures on their own.
The first skill is to seek personal revelation. He emphasized being mindful of your impressions during study, even if it isn’t about what you are reading. The thoughts or feelings that we have could be the exact thing that Heavenly Father wants us to receive. Marsh urged the audience to record, ponder and ask God about these impressions.
The second skill that Marsh taught was studying prophetic teachings. Prophets, seers and revelators are given a special spiritual endowment, and the things that they teach are gospel doctrine. Studying their words will bring great spiritual power into a person’s life. Asking personal questions while studying the words of these men will also help us enhance our understanding of gospel principles and the role they play in our lives.
Discovering divine doctrine and principles was the last skill that we can develop, according to Marsh. When we take the time to link together what we learn from our scripture study to the words that we study from the prophets, we can receive regular personal revelation.
“Spiritual self-reliance is the sustaining power of the church,” Marsh said. “It is also the process by which we can receive personal revelations for all situations in our life whether they be spiritual, occupational or temporal.”