In preparation for His earthly ministry, the Savior was “led up of the Spirit” to fast, to pray, and “to be with God” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 4:1 [in Matthew 4:1, footnote b]). Powerful gospel teaching means not just preparing a lesson but preparing ourselves. Because the Spirit is the real teacher and the true source of conversion, effective gospel teachers—before they think about filling class time—focus on filling their hearts with the Holy Ghost.
Prayerfully studying the word of God puts us in tune with the Holy Ghost. He can then inspire us to draw upon what we have studied as we teach and lift others. For this reason, it is best to diligently study the scriptures and the words of the prophets before going to supplementary materials to plan a lesson. The Lord promises that if we “treasure up in [our] minds continually the words of life, … it shall be given [us] in the very hour” what we should say and how we should teach (D&C 84:85).
Questions to ponder. What does it mean to “treasure up” the scriptures in my mind? When have I felt that a scripture was a treasure to me?
Scriptural example. When Hyrum Smith wanted to know how he could participate in the work of the Restoration, the Lord responded with the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 11 (see also D&C 23:3). What counsel do I find there that applies to me as a teacher?
Revelation often comes “line upon line” (2 Nephi 28:30), not all at once. So it is best to begin preparing to teach at least a week in advance. As you ponder how the gospel principles you are teaching will bless your class members, ideas and impressions will come throughout your daily life—as you travel to work, do household chores, or interact with family and friends. Don’t think of spiritual preparation as something you make time for but as something you are always doing.
Question to ponder. What can I do to be more receptive to spiritual guidance each day?
When insights and impressions about a lesson come, find a way to record them so that you can remember them and refer to them later. You might carry a notebook, small cards, or an electronic device so that you can record impressions right away, while “yet in the Spirit” (D&C 76:80, 113). When you record spiritual impressions, you show the Lord that you value His direction, and He will bless you with more frequent revelation.
Encourage those you teach to write down their impressions as well. Young children could be encouraged to share their insights and experiences with their parents or siblings. Elder Richard G. Scott has promised: “Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. … [Recording spiritual direction] enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light.”1
Question to ponder. What methods for recording spiritual impressions work best for me?
Scriptural example. When the Savior visited the Nephites, He asked to see their records. What do I learn from His words in 3 Nephi 23:7–14 about the importance of recording the inspiration I receive?