Using the Topical Guide to Find Answers to Your Questions and to Help Solve Your Problems

By Ann S. Bushman

Listen Download Print Share

Like Brandon, you can use the Topical Guide at the back of your Bible to find answers to your questions and to help you solve your problems. The prophets have taught us that as we prayerfully search the scriptures, we will receive the help and answers we need. Like Brandon, we also need to pray for a correct understanding of the scriptures. We may need to discuss things with our parents, teachers, and leaders too.

Here are some steps for using the Topical Guide.

Think about what you want to learn. What one word best describes it? Brandon thought of ask.

Turn to “Ask” in your Topical Guide. The standard works of scripture are always listed in the same order: Old then New Testaments, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price. You can find the book you want in each work by remembering the songs about the names of the books or by looking at the front of each standard work for a listing of book names. Brandon chose the Book of Mormon, because he found it easier to read and understand. He knew that it begins with 1 Nephi. This book is abbreviated “1 Ne.” in the Topical Guide.

Take time to kneel and pray, asking that the Holy Ghost help you to know which scriptures will help you the most. Remember, while Joseph Smith was reading the scriptures, the Holy Ghost prompted him to go into the grove to pray about his questions and problems.

Start reading the scripture phrases listed in the Topical Guide under the word you have chosen. That word will appear in the phrases as an italicized first letter only. Read slowly and pause after each phrase to examine your feelings and thoughts. When you come to a scripture that will be helpful, the Holy Ghost will help you feel good about it. Thoughts that suggest answers about your question or problem may come into your mind.

Turn to the scripture you chose. Read all of it. Sometimes it helps to read a verse or two before and after it. Think about what the scripture is saying to you about your question or problem. You may want to pray again for help to understand.

Go back to the Topical Guide and continue reading. Like Brandon, we sometimes need to read more than one passage to help us fully understand. In Primary, when he and his class read Jesus’ words “ask, and it shall be given you,” Brandon wasn’t thinking about asking for “whatsoever ye ask that is right.” He had to read and learn more first.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel anything in particular. Just read phrases that seem to be talking about your questions or problem. The scriptures will always help you. It takes time to learn what you feel when the Holy Ghost prompts you. Keep practicing, and you’ll begin to recognize when it is happening.

If you want to learn more, go back to the word you chose. If, like Brandon, you chose ask, you will find as part of that heading: “(see also Beg; Beseech; Inquire; Intreat; Petition; Plead; Prayer; Problem-Solving; Question; Request; Seek).” These are other words you could choose to look under. Again, the Holy Ghost will help you know which words might help you.

Write down the scriptures you have read, and what you have learned. You may want to memorize the most important part of the scripture. Decide what you will do to follow the counsel that you have read. Discuss your thoughts and decisions with your parents and with Heavenly Father. Follow through on your decisions.

As you learn to use the scriptures in this way, you will feel Heavenly Father’s love more and more. Your happiness will grow and grow.