This year we will be studying the Doctrine and Covenants in our Come, Follow Me lessons. The Doctrine and Covenants teaches about the doctrine of the gospel, the blessings of keeping the commandments, and seeking and receiving personal revelation. In fact, a majority of the book is direct revelation from the Lord, and it stands as a powerful witness that He can speak to you too.
You make your personal scripture study so much more powerful when you realize that what matters to you also matters to the Lord. He is invested in every aspect of your life, whether it be work, education, relationships, ministering, or your general well-being. The Doctrine and Covenants “contain[s] an invitation to all people everywhere to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking to them for their temporal well-being and their everlasting salvation” (introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants).
With that being said, if you sometimes have a hard time relating to the Doctrine and Covenants, here are a few tips on how to make your study more personal and meaningful:
The first word of section 1 is hearken, which is the Lord’s invitation to earnestly listen and give heed to His words. The Lord is eager for you to hear Him and follow His counsel because He understands your needs and how to help you. By beginning your study with a prayer, you can invite the Holy Ghost, be more sensitive to promptings, and focus on digging deeper into the verses.
Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “Throughout the ages, Father in Heaven has inspired select men and women to find, through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, solutions to life’s most perplexing problems. He has inspired those authorized servants to record those solutions as a type of handbook for those of His children who have faith in His plan of happiness and in His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.”1 The Doctrine and Covenants is one of those books. As you prepare to receive personal revelation by thoughtfully considering what and how to study, you show the Lord your willingness to work alongside Him for guidance.
Mixing up your study routine can also help you gain new perspectives. Try studying by topic or in chronological order of when the revelations were given (see Chronological Order of Contents), then mark the verses in a way that will help you visualize the principles taught.
Knowing what prompted the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants will help you understand what the Lord is teaching.2 “These sacred revelations were received in answer to prayer, in times of need, and came out of real-life situations involving real people. The Prophet and his associates sought for divine guidance, and these revelations certify that they received it. In the revelations, one sees the restoration and unfolding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times” (introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants).
The “Restoration and Church History” tab in the Gospel Library app contains great resources about the history leading up to important events, like the Church History and Gospel Topics essays, and stories about the global history of the Church. Understanding the historical context can help you recognize how you can hear Him.
Many sections in the Doctrine and Covenants are dedicated to different people whom the Lord is speaking to. While reading, try inserting your name in place of theirs—this can remind you that the Lord speaks to you personally when you liken the scriptures to yourself (see 1 Nephi 19:23).
Also, don’t forget to find your Doctrine and Covenants heroes! Just as Nephi might be your hero, find whom you relate to and who inspires you in the Doctrine and Covenants. This book is filled with examples of Saints turning to the Lord for guidance and support—in both good times and bad.
I’ve gained a testimony of the Doctrine and Covenants as I’ve prayerfully sought to recognize the personal messages the Lord has for me in each section. I am inspired by the faith of those who laid the groundwork for the Restoration I am part of. Studying this book this year will remind you how remarkable it is that the Lord still speaks to us, just as He has spoken to others in prior generations. You will realize that He is aware of you and your individual circumstances, and He will guide you through your unique challenges. And your faith and trust in Him will continue to grow.