Try these seven ideas to help you learn more from the words of the prophets.
Have you ever found yourself holding a conference issue of the Ensign or visiting conference.lds.org and wondering how to even begin reading it with so many talks to choose from? Our Church leaders have counseled us often to study the words from general conference. In fact, President Thomas S. Monson has said, “I urge you to study the messages, to ponder their teachings, and then to apply them in your life” (“A Word at Closing,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010).
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to just dive into the conference issue. The following tips can help make studying conference talks more meaningful.
1. Look for Invitations and Encouragements
General conference is one way the prophets and apostles invite us to do things to change our lives. Each time you encounter one of these invitations, jot it down. As you make a list, you’ll get a clearer idea of ways you can become better.
2. Watch for Cause-and-Effect Statements
Cause-and-effect statements include an action and the blessings that come by following it. For example, President Thomas S. Monson said, “A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God.” In other words, if you are asking Heavenly Father for answers to questions you have, then you will receive them more readily when you show obedience to His commandments.
Such statements that show cause and effect help us because they tell us how to receive specific blessings we need. As you review conference, make a list of the blessings you read about and the things you need to do to receive them (see D&C 130:21 and D&C 59:23). As you do so, take notice of the blessings Heavenly Father wants us to enjoy.
3. Prepare Questions
Think of the deep questions you have—about life, your family, friends, your calling, school, or anything else on your mind. As you study Church leaders’ messages, prayerfully ask the Lord for help with the issues you are facing. Sometimes the answer may come directly from the words you read, but at other times the Spirit may prompt you with the guidance or strength you need to deal with your situation because you’ve studied the words of prophets.
4. Look for Lists
Church leaders frequently explain a series of steps or principles we can follow to accomplish goals or improve our lives. Sometimes these lists are easy to find because they are numbered or bulleted. Sometimes, however, lists may occur as a series in a sentence or spread out over several paragraphs.
“We continue to hear messages on similar issues because the Lord is teaching and impressing upon our minds and hearts certain foundational principles of great eternal importance that must be understood and acted upon before we can move on to other things.” —President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
5. Watch for Repeated Phrases and Overall Themes
Often, the more something is repeated, the more important it is for us at that moment. As you study conference, look for recurring doctrines, themes, and ideas. You might even review notes from previous conferences to identify topics that are emphasized over time.
6. Study Particular Words, Scripture References, and Notes
If a word seems unusual or sticks out in your mind, study it. Try to figure out why the speaker chose that specific word and what deeper meaning it has. To study a topic in more depth, read the scripture references and any notes listed at the end of a talk, or look in the “Topic Index” at the front of the Ensign or Liahona to find more talks on the subject. In each May and November New Era, you’ll also find a list of frequently used scriptures from each conference.
7. Set Goals to Practice What You’ve Learned
As you study the words of the prophets, set goals that will help you grow. Then keep track of how you’re doing by writing in your journal. Measuring your development will make a huge difference in your success.
Additional Study Ideas
Learn about a 20-week plan for studying general conference and discover online study tools here.
Share Your Experience
How do you study general conference talks? Other youth want to know what you have to say! Share your experience with them by commenting below.
Taken from “Study General Conference,” New Era, June 2013, 40–42.