What is Living Water and How Do We Get It?

Study Topics

What is living water?

Living Water, the gift of God

“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” (John 4:10)

Have you ever been really, really, thirsty? Your lips go dry and start cracking. Your tongue starts to swell a little making talking difficult. You feel a headache coming on and your body gets sluggish from a loss of energy. You don’t just WANT a glass of water to quench your thirst, you NEED a glass of water.

Some of you are thinking “that’s me every fast Sunday.” 🙂 Well, hopefully not too many of you are in that desperate a need after 24 hours. However, our spirits may start to experience some of these same symptoms, spiritually speaking, after periods of time without any “living water.”

Getting Started

Elder Bednar, an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said this:

“The scriptures contain the words of Christ and are a reservoir of living water to which we have ready access and from which we can drink deeply and long. You and I must look to and come unto Christ, who is ‘the fountain of living waters’ (1 Nephi 11:25; compare Ether 8:26, 12:28), by reading (see Mosiah 1:5), studying (see D&C 26:1), searching (see John 5:39; Alma 17:2), and feasting (see 2 Nephi 32:3) upon the words of Christ as contained in the holy scriptures. By so doing, we can receive both spiritual direction and protection during our mortal journey…. “Through normal activity each day, you and I lose a substantial amount of the water that constitutes so much of our physical bodies. Thirst is a demand by the cells of the body for water, and the water in our bodies must be replenished daily. It frankly does not make sense to occasionally ‘fill up’ with water, with long periods of dehydration in between. The same thing is true spiritually. Spiritual thirst is a need for living water. A constant flow of living water is far superior to sporadic sipping. “Are you and I daily reading, studying, and searching the scriptures in a way that enables us to hold fast to the rod of iron—or are you and I merely clinging? Are you and I pressing forward toward the fountain of living waters—relying upon the word of God? These are important questions for each of us to ponder prayerfully.” (David A. Bednar, “A Reservoir of Living Water,” BYU devotional, Feb. 4, 2007)

Open up Scripture Notes and do a search for:

liv* +water*

We find 29 results and not all of them are relevant. To aid you in spotting key phrases in the verses, ctrl-F (cmd for Mac) and do a find on the page for “living”. All the instances of that word will highlight to make scanning the verses much easier.

What is living water?

You can delete all the Old Testament verses down to Jeremiah 2:13. Position your mouse cursor over the minus button on the first verse in Genesis and keep clicking till you get to Jeremiah. Then be more selective as you read the verses and determine what to keep.

For example, when you reach 2 Nephi 25:20, I would keep it and make a note to later add verses that mention Moses smiting the rock of Horeb to provide water to the Israelites. (I’ve made the note below for you in “other things to consider adding”)

When you have the list of verses reduced, now create a collection note from them. Title it “Living Water” and tag it the same, then save the collection. In the master note list off all the things that are related to living waters. There are two that really stand out to me.

First, living waters are compared to a fountain. In the Bible there are a few different words in Hebrew that translate to fountain in English, but this definition is the one we want.


The word is “Maqowr” and it means a spring, tears, menstrual blood, and the flow of blood from a woman after delivering a child. Basically a point of origin where a flow starts.

Several of the verses clearly identify Jesus Christ as the fountain. He is the source well, the point of the origin of life. This makes total sense.

Second, I love this verse.

D&C 63:23. “But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.”

This identifies what the fountain gives us. It’s not just a feeling of comfort. It’s knowledge and understanding of things hidden to us. It’s revelation. It’s what bubbles up inside of us that the Lord provides to truly quench our thirst. (also note Elder Bednar mentions Mosiah 1:5 above which says “…that we might read and understand of his mysteries…”)

I would now add “Fountain” and “Mysteries” as additional tags for this collection note. You may change the title to “Living waters are receiving the mysteries” to better reflect what this note covers. Then update the note to save your changes.

How does knowing this change your understanding of the other verses about living water?

Most of the verses are pretty straight-forward in this set, but one gives us pause for a little deeper thinking. Before we approach it, lets better understand what might get covered by the phrase “living water.”

Layers of meaning

So what can living water mean?

  1. As Elder Bednar mentioned above, we receive living water as we read the scriptures, study conference talks, and attend church or the temple. These all provide spiritual refreshing. These are living water to our spirit even if we feel like we already know what’s taught.
  2. Spiritual experiences. The fruits of obedience to the principles we learn about. These can be personal revelation in the form of promptings to act or exercising gifts of the spirit. They strengthen our faith and help us feel God loves us to give these experiences to us.
  3. Seeking and obtaining the mysteries of the kingdom. This is a topic for one of the next blog posts but it is everything unwritten that can only be taught by the spirit. As Paul said, it is to receive “unspeakable words…not lawful for a man to utter.” (2 Corinthians 12:4)

With these three things in mind, lets try to understand D&C 133:29. “And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.”

Section 133 deals with latter-day events and the verses before this one show events occurring at the coming of Christ. This verse has both a literal meaning, and a spiritual symbolic one.

First, the deserts, devoid of visible life, will receive life in a miraculous way when Christ returns.

You can clearly see how the desert will blossom as the rose when given living water.

Second, on a spiritual level, we are all parched ground. When we come to our senses, and awaken to the reality we live in, we know we are spiritually thirsty. We are deserts. We too will blossom as the rose when we receive the living water Christ desires to give us. We do need to seek for it to receive it.

One of the beatitudes is to hunger and thirst for righteousness, which is an injunction to seek for spiritual food and water. We may only be at the first level on the list above, but more is available. The Lord wants us to receive the life enriching waters Paul spoke of. We’ll discuss that in the next topic.

Other things to consider adding to this Collection Note

  1. Copy Elder Bednar’s quote from above into your collection note.
  2. Each week we partake of the sacrament and drink water with a promise to “have his Spirit” to be with us. How does that relate to living water?
  3. You may want to review the verses Elder Bednar used in the quote above and consider adding them to this note.
  4. Verses that mention Moses striking the rock of Horeb to provide water. Search “water* and rock*” and then add these verses to your collection by dragging them into the verse area: Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 8:15; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalms 114:8; Isaiah 32:2.
  5. You may also search for “well* and salvation” and consider adding those verses.
  6. There are some other relevant verses to add to this collection is you search for fountain*.
  7. Bonus: Do a search for “blossom and rose” and look at the two verses that appear. Note the connection. You might save that as another collection note.

In the next study topic, we will dive deeper into the “mysteries”.

[Featured Image: Kevin Carden © 123RF.com] What is Living Water and How Do We Get It?
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God, family, country, scriptures, soccer, Sanderson, disc golf, dessert, development. These are a few of my favorite things. :) - Oak Norton

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