After teaching about the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:18), Nephi perceived that his people wondered what they should do after beginning on that path. He answered their questions by encouraging them to “feast upon the words of Christ” and “pray always” (2 Nephi 32:3, 9). He assured them that if they would do these things, the Holy Ghost would help them know what to do.
Suggestions for Teaching
Nephi counsels us to seek divine direction through the words of Jesus Christ and the promptings of the Holy Ghost
Invite students to think of a time when they explained the way to get from one place to another. Ask them to explain why it was either easy or difficult to give those directions.
Remind students that in the previous lesson, they studied directions that Nephi gave his people. After sharing these directions, he said, “This is the way” (2 Nephi 31:21). To help students review what they learned, ask the following questions:
If we follow Nephi’s directions, where will they lead us? (To eternal life; see 2 Nephi 31:20.)
According to 2 Nephi 31:17–18, how do we begin on the path that leads to eternal life?
Explain that 2 Nephi 32 is a continuation of Nephi’s teachings in 2 Nephi 31. Ask students to look in 2 Nephi 32:1 for a question that Nephi’s people had regarding what he had taught them. Invite a few students to express this question in their own words. (Ensure that students understand that the people wondered what they should do after having begun on the path to eternal life.)
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 32:2–3 aloud. Ask the class to look for Nephi’s answer to the people’s question. Point out that 2 Nephi 32:3 is a scripture mastery passage. You might encourage students to mark it in a distinctive way so they will be able to locate it easily.
What words in 2 Nephi 32:3 describe how we should receive the words of Christ? How is feasting different from snacking?
What do you think it means to feast on the words of Christ?
What did Nephi say will be the outcome when we feast on the words of Christ?
What are some places where we can find the words of Jesus Christ? (Answers might include the scriptures, the words of modern prophets, and inspiration from the Holy Ghost.)
Ensure that students understand that when we feast on the words of Christ, the words of Christ will tell us all things that we should do.
To help students think about how well they feast on the words of Jesus Christ, read the following list, pausing after each item. Ask students to write the list in their scripture study journals or class notebooks or on a piece of paper.
Invite students to think about how well they seek the words of Jesus Christ in each of these settings. For each item, have them write feast, snack, or starve. For example, a student may feast in personal scripture study but only snack in general conference. A student who does not pay attention in sacrament meeting might write the word starve next to that item.
Ask students to choose one of the activities in which they are currently “snacking” or “starving,” and invite them to make goals that will help them “feast upon the words of Christ” more in that setting. (You might encourage them to think about their Duty to God or Personal Progress goals in connection with these goals).
To reinforce students’ understanding of their responsibility to seek personal guidance from the Holy Ghost, have them read 2 Nephi 32:4–7 silently. Then ask them to discuss the following questions with a partner. (You may want to provide these questions on a handout or write them on the board before class begins.)
In verse 4, what do you think it means to “ask” or “knock”? What does Nephi say are the consequences for those who will not ask or knock?
What blessing does Nephi promise we can have when we receive the Holy Ghost?
Why did Nephi mourn for his people?
Express your confidence that as students feast on the words of Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost will help them follow the path to eternal life.
Nephi counsels us to pray always
Explain that Nephi next focused on one thing we can do to receive the words of Jesus Christ. Invite students to read 2 Nephi 32:8 silently, looking for what Nephi said we should do. After they have identified the answer, ask the following questions to help them ponder the importance of prayer:
Why do you think the Holy Ghost wants us to pray?
Why do you think Satan does not want us to pray? In what ways might Satan try to convince people not to pray?
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 32:9 aloud. Point out that 2 Nephi 32:8–9 is a scripture mastery passage. You might want to suggest that students mark it in a distinctive way so they will be able to locate it easily.
How often should we pray? What do you think it means to “pray always”?
Share the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (If possible, make copies of this quotation so students can read along and focus on Elder Bednar’s words. If you do make copies, note that the quotation is continued later in the lesson after a brief discussion. Include that portion of the statement as well.) Invite students to listen for Elder Bednar’s counsel on how to “pray always.”
“There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. …
“During the course of the day, we keep a prayer in our heart for continued assistance and guidance. …
“We notice during this particular day that there are occasions where normally we would have a tendency to speak harshly, and we do not; or we might be inclined to anger, but we are not. We discern heavenly help and strength and humbly recognize answers to our prayer. Even in that moment of recognition, we offer a silent prayer of gratitude” (“Pray Always,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 41–42).
To help students ponder this counsel, ask:
Can you think of moments today or in recent days when you could have followed this suggestion from Elder Bednar? (You may want to ask students to ponder this question silently rather than respond aloud.)
Continue to read Elder Bednar’s counsel:
“At the end of our day, we kneel again and report back to our Father. We review the events of the day and express heartfelt thanks for the blessings and the help we received. We repent and, with the assistance of the Spirit of the Lord, identify ways we can do and become better tomorrow. Thus our evening prayer builds upon and is a continuation of our morning prayer. And our evening prayer also is a preparation for meaningful morning prayer.
“Morning and evening prayers—and all of the prayers in between—are not unrelated, discrete events; rather, they are linked together each day and across days, weeks, months, and even years. This is in part how we fulfill the scriptural admonition to ‘pray always’ (Luke 21:36; 3 Nephi 18:15, 18; D&C 31:12). Such meaningful prayers are instrumental in obtaining the highest blessings God holds in store for His faithful children” (“Pray Always,” 42).
To help students understand the last part of 2 Nephi 32:9, explain that the word consecrate means “to dedicate, to make holy, or to become righteous” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Consecrate, Law of Consecration,” scriptures.lds.org).
Why should we pray whenever we “perform any thing unto the Lord”?
What do you think it means for the Lord to consecrate what we do for the welfare of our souls?
How can Elder Bednar’s counsel help us live a more consecrated life?
Testify that as we pray always, we will be able to do all that the Lord would have us do for the welfare of our souls.
To summarize what students have discussed in this lesson, share the following statement by Elder Spencer J. Condie of the Seventy:
“You may be facing decisions regarding a mission, your future career, and, eventually, marriage. As you read the scriptures and pray for direction, you may not actually see the answer in the form of printed words on the page, but as you read you will receive distinct impressions, and promptings, and, as promised, the Holy Ghost ‘will show unto you all things what ye should do.’ [2 Nephi 32:5.]” (“Becoming a Great Benefit to Our Fellow Beings,” Ensign, May 2002, 45).
Scripture Mastery—2 Nephi 32:3
Ask students how long they think it might take them to memorize 2 Nephi 32:3 if they recited it each time they ate food. Challenge them to review this scripture—feasting on the words of Christ—each time they eat a meal for the next few days. After they have memorized the verse, invite them to report how many meals it took.
Scripture Mastery—2 Nephi 32:8–9
Ask students if they have ever tried to have a prayer in their heart for an entire day or an entire week. Invite them to share their experiences. Invite the class to consider ways that they can “pray always” for the next 24 hours. Challenge them to do it and to report on their experience at the beginning of the next class.
Note: If you do not have time to use these teaching ideas in this lesson, consider using them as reviews in future lessons.
Commentary and Background Information
2 Nephi 32:2. What does it mean to speak with the tongue of angels?
Some might wonder what it means to “speak with the tongue of angels.” President Boyd K. Packer taught that speaking with the tongue of angels “simply means that you can speak with the power of the Holy Ghost” (“The Gift of the Holy Ghost: What Every Member Should Know,” Ensign, Aug. 2006, 50).
2 Nephi 32:3. What does it mean to feast on the words of Christ?
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “To feast means more than to taste. To feast means to savor. We savor the scriptures by studying them in a spirit of delightful discovery and faithful obedience. When we feast upon the words of Christ, they are embedded ‘in fleshy tables of the heart.’ [2 Corinthians 3:3.] They become an integral part of our nature” (“Living by Scriptural Guidance,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 17).
Elder Robert D. Hales, also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, counseled, “If you and I are to feast upon the words of Christ, we must study the scriptures and absorb His words through pondering them and making them a part of every thought and action” (“Healing Soul and Body,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 15).