“Go Ye Unto Your Homes, and Ponder Upon the Things Which I Have Said, and Ask of the Father, in My Name, That Ye May Understand”

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

Following His instructions to the people (some 2,500 men, women, and children—see verse 25), Jesus directs them to go to their homes, where they are to ponder the things they have seen and heard, and pray sincerely that they might understand His teachings and prepare themselves for the following day when He should return. In this manner He gives them a memorable lesson concerning the vital importance of pondering and praying about the principles of righteousness. Spiritual blessings flow to those whose hearts and minds are open, who search diligently, and who are sincerely prayerful in their quest to know the truth and become worthy and obedient children of God.

When we ponder the things of God and seek to understand them, we will pray with faith, thus becoming enlightened and prepared to receive more. The fruits of righteous pondering include spiritual edification and enhanced insight into our relationship with our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. When we ponder, meditate, and exercise mighty prayer, we truly exercise our faith. We are hungering and thirsting after righteousness. We want to know. We seek to understand. We want to be good. Our minds become attuned to things spiritual.

Nephi wanted to know the things his father had seen concerning the tree of life. In 1 Nephi chapter 11 we learn, “For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot” (1 Nephi 11:1).

It all began with desire and the principle and power of pondering, and he received the vision of the tree of life. President Joseph F. Smith records in D&C 138 the following, “On the third of October, in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures; And reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the Redemption of the world; And the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world; That through his atonement, and by obedience to the principles of the gospel, mankind might be saved. While I was thus engaged, my mind reverted to the writings of the apostle Peter …” (D&C 138:1–5).

He, like Nephi of old, was pondering. He was meditating over the scriptures and in particular over the Atonement. His mind turned to the epistle of Peter and Christ’s dealings with those in the spirit prison (see 1 Peter 3:18–20; 1 Peter 4:6). Having done this, he records, “As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great” (D&C 138:11). He received Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

We too can receive revelations according to our eternal roles and our stewardships here upon the earth. When we pay the price to seek with real effort through meditating, pondering, and mighty prayer, the windows of heaven will be opened unto us according to our faith.

The Prophet Joseph explains how we can receive revelation:

The Spirit of Revelation is in connection with these blessings. A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976], 151).

Let us ponder and pray and receive the inspiration, direction, and strength to carry on and endure to the end. President Howard W. Hunter recaptures the essence of pondering in this statement:

The development of spiritual capacity does not come without effort. We must take time to prepare our minds for spiritual things. The development of spiritual capacity does not come with the conferral of authority. There must be desire, effort, and personal preparation. This requires, of course, as you already know, fasting, prayer, searching the scriptures, experience, meditation, and a hungering and thirsting after the righteous life” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 36).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie emphasizes the process and benefits of continually pondering on the things of God:

Faith is thus born of scriptural study. Those who study, ponder, and pray about the scriptures, seeking to understand their deep and hidden meanings, receive from time to time great outpourings of light and knowledge from the Holy Spirit. This is what happened to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon when they received the vision of the degrees of glory (D&C 76).

However talented men may be in administrative matters; however eloquent they may be in expressing their views; however learned they may be in worldly things—they will be denied the sweet whisperings of the Spirit that might have been theirs unless they pay the price of studying, pondering, and praying about the scriptures. (Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1998], 238)

When we come to understand and appreciate the doctrine of Christ, we will be filled with gratitude to such a degree that our attitude and behavior change. As we ponder, meditate, and pray, the inspiration of the Lord can come to us and open our eyes. This is what the Lord wants us to do with His word, just as He counseled the Nephites. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7; compare 3 Nephi 14:7). This is the law of revelation and inspiration from the Lord. The Prophet Joseph followed this counsel explicitly and received visions and revelations according to his prayers of faith. A reading of James 1:5–6 brought forth the First Vision. Asking about baptism brought forth the restoration of the priesthood (see HC 1:39–42). Seeking to understand the Resurrection as mentioned in John 5:29, the Prophet Joseph and Sidney Rigdon received the glorious visions of the degrees of glory found in Doctrine and Covenants Section 76. Through pondering and mighty prayer, we can come to understand the word of God and receive the revelations and inspiration for our stewardships here upon the earth.

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2