John 16:24. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
While serving on my mission, I remember one night pondering what it meant to be endowed. I had only been able to go through the temple twice before going into the mission field, and I was largely ignorant of what it meant for me as a missionary. I remember kneeling down to pray that night and asking God, what it meant to be endowed. Up to that point in my life, I had never had a direct answer to a prayer, but in that moment I heard “Doctrine and Covenants 11:21” in my mind. As I knelt there, I had no idea what that verse was. I couldn’t remember anything about it. I wasn’t certain it was an answer until I opened my scriptures and read it.
21. Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.
As I read this verse several times, it was apparent to me that God had first, answered my prayer. Second, he had opened my eyes to an important truth. Third, he gave me direction as to what course of action to take. If I obtained the word, through study and faith, and obtained the spirit, he would loose my tongue and direct my abilities to use his power to touch others in a way to convince them of the truth. As a missionary representative of Jesus Christ, I had to be endowed to take his name upon me, but more importantly, I now represented him and needed to teach as he did so that none would doubt the words.
I share that example to let you know that God does answer prayers but often it isn’t in the moment because the timing is off, or we aren’t asking the right questions.
The key to getting a good answer from the Lord is by asking good questions.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “There are more good answers than we have good questions” (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, pg. 9).
This is true in every secular field as well as the spiritual realm. If we aren’t getting answers, we might need to work out the question better.
I find that when I read the scriptures, I am often asking little questions in my mind, but when I commit the question to paper (or digital paper), I can refine the question by doing drafts and revisions to perfect it. Over the years of doing this, I have found many valuable insights into the scriptures that have taught me things through revelation that I never would have received if I hadn’t asked specific questions.
Sometimes a question leads to more questions. As I was just browsing my notes for an example, I saw where I asked a question and proceeded to write 13 more questions instead of any answers. However, those questions took me much deeper into the question than the original question did. It was still revelation prompting me to dig deeper and think instead of just letting the first question go unwritten and then moments later become forgotten.
The key is to write down your questions and if you review it and find it to be awkwardly worded or see another way to approach it, you refine it until it’s what it needs to be.
In Scripture Notes, there are 3 ways or areas in which you can ask questions.
Next to each verse in Scripture Notes is a box of near infinite worth. :) It is where you type your questions, answers, and insights that relate directly to that verse. To receive the benefit of that box, it must be used. Of course, not every box may be used in a given chapter, but each box is an invitation to revelation.
Verse notes expand as you type more notes. You can copy/paste lengthy quotes in. There’s no limit. The box will expand to a height of 20 rows, after which it will let you scroll up and down through the note to view everything.
The next opportunity you have is to go deeper with a verse by converting it to a collection note. Clicking the top icon to the right of a verse note will create a collection note from this verse and give you greater space and freedom to type in more detail about this verse.
For example creating a collection note from this verse, we would then ask a question in the title box, add tags, and in the category box put “question & answer.”
Your primary verse is attached below the master note area. In the master note area, start typing your answer. If you feel prompted to search for more scriptures, find them and drag them into the verse area below to add them to this note. There will be future features that enhance this even more.
As you read the scriptures and “receive” a question on a topic, you should pay attention. The Lord is trying to teach you something. For example, in Isaiah 53:1, what is the significance of the arm of the Lord that is mentioned?
Do a search for “arm and Lord” and create a collection note from it. Start asking questions, pondering, praying, reading the verses, and answering the questions. As you can see in this image, you can ask many questions on a topic, read the scriptures, and discover answers through study, and by faith (revelation).
Writing questions invites and leads to answers. Asking better questions leads to getting better answers. Asking specific questions leads to specific answers while asking general questions leads to general answers.
These methods of scripture study will yield you incredible results. No matter what tool you use, you need to be writing and journaling about your studies.
Many of the greatest revelations we enjoy in the Doctrine and Covenants were the result of Joseph Smith asking questions. The same can be seen in the Bible and Book of Mormon by people that inquired of the Lord and received guidance.