Chapter 6: We Learn to Teach “by Study and also by Faith,” Part 2

Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual Religion 130, (2005), 42–46

chapter continues to emphasize the skills introduced in chapter 5. Due to the importance of preparation, students are given additional opportunity to practice this skill. The need for faith and the power of the Spirit while studying and preparing to teach is also addressed. As missionaries learn to organize their understanding of the restored gospel and exercise faith in their study, they are promised the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Missionaries studying at table

Doctrines and Principles to Understand

  • Bearing testimony invites the Spirit into our teaching.

  • We obtain the word by faith.

  • God promises the Holy Ghost to those who treasure up His word.

Teaching Suggestions

Bearing testimony invites the Spirit into our teaching.

Ask students how many of the groups bore testimony during their previous class small group teaching. Some students may not have thought to include testimony in their teaching. This is an appropriate time to discuss with them the importance of testifying to the truth of a gospel principle.

  • Why do you think testifying and sharing your feelings are an important part of teaching?

Share the following principles taught from the missionary service guide Preach My Gospel and from President Boyd K. Packer regarding the bearing of testimony:

“Sharing your testimony often is one of the most powerful ways of inviting the Spirit and helping others feel the Spirit. It adds a current, personal witness to the truths you have taught from the scriptures” (Preach My Gospel [2004], 198).

“It is not unusual to have a missionary say, ‘How can I bear testimony until I get one? How can I testify that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ and that the gospel is true? If I do not have such a testimony would that not be dishonest?’

“Oh, if I could teach you this one principle! A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it. Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that ‘leap of faith,’ as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and step into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two” (Boyd K. Packer, “That All May Be Edified” [1982], 339–40).

  • What are some ways we can bear sincere testimony besides using the phrase “I bear testimony” or “I testify”?

Explain that while these are appropriate words to use when teaching, there are other proper and simple ways one can bear testimony. For example, a missionary might say, “I know as you keep the Sabbath day holy, you will find more peace in your heart.” The statements “Jesus Christ is the Son of God” and “I have learned for myself that the Book of Mormon is true” are both expressions of testimony.

Invite students to discuss ways a missionary could use a scripture, the words of modern prophets or apostles, or personal experiences to bear testimony of a particular principle. Here are some examples:

  • Scripture as testimony. A testimony that the Savior atoned for our sins is found in 2 Nephi 2:8.

  • The words of prophets and apostles as a testimony. “[Jesus Christ] gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind” (“The Living Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2000, 2).

  • Personal experience as a testimony. A young woman faithfully pays her tithing for many years and has a personal testimony of its truthfulness.

Encourage students to think of meaningful ways they can bear testimony as they invite people to come unto Christ by accepting the principles and ordinances of the restored gospel. Invite students to volunteer to bear a one-sentence testimony on a gospel principle they know to be true.

Missionaries will prepare to teach many different investigators during their study of the restored gospel. The more they can become familiar and comfortable with preparing and teaching from their notes, the better prepared they will be when they enter the mission field.

The following teaching suggestion makes use of lesson plan experience from previous lessons while adding the element of testimony.

Divide students into pairs (different from previous pairs). Ask each pair to take 15 minutes and create a basic lesson plan for teaching a single gospel topic that they haven’t already outlined or taught. As part of their lesson plan, have them include at least two places where they can bear sincere testimony. Challenge them to look for ways to bear testimony without using the words testify or testimony (see previous teaching suggestion). Have students write their ideas into their lesson plan.

Have each pair teach their gospel principle or topic to another pair, referring to their lesson plan as needed. Both members of the pair should take part in teaching their subject and each should find an opportunity to bear testimony at least once during their lesson.

After each pair teaches, those who were taught should take time to evaluate the teaching pair. The feedback should point out positive and helpful elements of the lesson. Suggestions should also be made that would improve the teaching, such as additional scriptures that could have been used to strengthen the teaching, descriptions of parts that were not clear and how they could be changed to be improved, and so forth.

Switch roles and have the other pair take their turn teaching, testifying, and receiving feedback. If your class time is short, you may need to extend this exercise to the next class to give students sufficient time to accomplish the assigned tasks.

We obtain the word by faith.

Assign the scripture references listed below to various students. Have them read the scriptures to the class, emphasizing the verbs that the scriptures use in telling how to study the word of the Lord and explaining what they think each verb means (emphasis added).

  • “Thou shalt meditate” on the book of the law (Joshua 1:8).

  • “Feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3).

  • “Lay hold upon the word of God” (Helaman 3:29).

  • “Ponder upon the things which I have said” (3 Nephi 17:3).

  • “Treasure up in your minds continually the words of life” (D&C 84:85).

Ask students to describe how they would study the scriptures in the manner each of these verbs describe and the role and importance that faith has in this kind of scripture study.

Invite students to read the first paragraph in the student manual under the principle “We obtain the word by faith” (p. 49).

  • Why is praying with faith necessary to understand the Lord’s teachings?

  • What implications does this paragraph have for the teaching activity of missionaries?

Invite several students to each read to the class one of the Apostles’ statements in the student manual regarding obtaining the Lord’s teachings with faith (see student manual, 49–50). Ask another student to summarize what each statement teaches about learning with faith and what implication it has for teaching.

God promises the Holy Ghost to those who treasure up His word.

Invite the class to read aloud Doctrine and Covenants 84:85 and look for the blessings that come to those who “treasure up” the scriptures in their minds.

Allow room for two flowcharts on the board. Place the following flowchart on the board, and discuss briefly how such a chart can be used to analyze a verse. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 and note the blessings that come with scripture study.

Obtain the Lord’s word → Tongue loosed → Have the Lord’s Spirit and His word → Power of God unto the convincing of men

Ask for a student volunteer to go to the board and make a simple flowchart illustrating Alma 17:2–3 while the class reads it in unison.

As the student draws the flowchart, ask the class:

  • Why are these verses important for missionaries to know and understand?

Continue by reading the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson, the thirteenth President of the Church:

“The sequence to possessing the power of God in your teaching is to seek first to obtain the word; then comes understanding and the Spirit, and finally the power to convince” (The Gospel Teacher and His Message [address to religious educators, Sept. 17, 1976], 5).

Ask if the student would make any adjustments to the flowchart based upon that statement.

The student may write something similar to the following:

Seek to obtain the word → Treasure up the word → Have righteous desires → Strive to understand the workings of the Spirit → Develop the power to convince

  • How is a missionary’s effectiveness decreased if any of these elements are left out of the process?

Share the following statement, also taught by President Benson:

“Let us not treat lightly the great things we have received from the hand of the Lord! His word is one of the most valuable gifts He has given us. I urge you to recommit yourselves to a study of the scriptures. Immerse yourselves in them daily so you will have the power of the Spirit to attend you” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 82).

Invite a student to share how daily scripture study has brought the Spirit of the Holy Ghost into his or her life.

Suggested Assignments for Students

  • Consider bearing your testimony in the next fast and testimony meeting in your ward or branch.

  • Select a favorite chapter from the Book of Mormon or a favorite section in the Doctrine and Covenants, and spend significant time “studying by faith.” Take time to pray regarding the scripture, ponder, analyze, identify principles, and determine how you can apply what you learn in your life. Talk about your efforts with a close friend or priesthood leader.