With All Diligence of Mind

Fred E. Woods

Fred E. Woods, "'With All Diligence of Mind'," Religious Educator 16, no. 2 (2015): 76–89.

Fred E. Woods (fred_woods@byu.edu) is a professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU.

Joseph Smith Studying the BibleAt an early age, Joseph discovered the key to unlock the portals of heaven as he carefully “came to the determination to ‘ask of God.’”

While incarcerated in Liberty Jail, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote with a surge of inspiration:

The things of God are of deep import, and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart.[1]

Leading ourselves or others to God and truly communing with the Father of our spirits (see Hebrews 12:9) requires serving and loving God “with all diligence of mind” (Mosiah 7:33). In a postmodern world, this understanding is critical for devoted disciples of Christ[2] because a much higher level of intimate worship is available only through mentally intense work. It is indeed thought-provoking that the Hebrew word for work, avodah, is the same word used for service and worship.[3] Is worship, therefore, really work? It certainly appears that a great deal of mental effort and concentration is required to develop unyielding faith, for as those who attended the School of the Prophets learned, “when a man works by faith he works by mental exertion.”[4] Loving and serving God with all diligence of mind involves first desiring and then cultivating thoughtful, faithful inquiry, single-minded devotion, and serious reflection; but when we achieve such singleness of mind, few rewards are greater, for God opens to us the very portals of heaven.

The Purpose of Diligence of Mind: Coming to Know God

The highest aim of being diligent in our mind is to come to know God, our Eternal Father. Coming to know God is the ultimate end of every disciple’s devotion, for to truly know God is to reach one’s eternal potential. When Harvard University opened its doors in 1636, their mission statement was “to know God and Jesus Christ which is life eternal.”[5] The school took the phrase from the scriptural passage “this is life eternal to know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). However, this ultimate gift—life eternal—cannot be obtained by studying for just a day, a week, a month, or sometimes even an entire mortal lifetime. The Greek verb for the word know (ginôskôsin) in this implies that one “should keep on knowing” the Lord continually[6] and cultivate a lifelong relationship with Deity.

The quest to come to know the Father and the Son must involve an ongoing, continual process in loving and serving God with all one's mind. To answer the scribe’s question of which of all the commandments was foremost, Jesus said to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind” (Mark 12:28, 30; emphasis added).[7]

One of the reasons loving God is the greatest of all the commandments is that it leads the mindful disciple not only to come to know God but also to obey him. Professor John W. Welch provided the following insights on how loving God with all our mind leads us to mindful obedience: “When you love God with all your mind, you will mind Him and mind all His precepts. And by minding Him always, by obeying Him always, you remember Him always.”[8] And by remembering him always, we may come to know him all the better. Therefore, single-minded commitment to God is perhaps one of the first steps in an upward-spiraling cycle of knowledge of, love for, and obedience to God, in which progressing in one area only lifts the disciple higher to the next.

We must carefully guard against anything that would halt our mindfully devoted upward progression. This means not just single-mindedly doing what is right, but also single-mindedly turning away from what is wrong. We must be mindful of the Lord by giving careful attention to both our outward behavior as well as our inner thoughts (Mosiah 4:30). On this point, emeritus BYU professor Arnold Green, queried, “How do we strengthen our intellects and our powers of intellectual discernment? First, we make intelligent choices to avoid mental Sodoms, like pornography and drivel-spewing media that stupefy our minds instead of stimulating them.”[9]

Diligence of Mind in Thoughtful, Faithful Inquiry

Welch also addressed the important issue of inquiring minds in the context of mindful devotion to God: “We love God with our mind by skillful analysis of problems; it is often said that 'God is in the details.' But don’t forget also to love God with skillful synthesis as well, seeing things as one great whole. . . . We love God with our mind by asking good and righteous questions. There is nothing wrong with asking.”[10]

Wise teachers and persistent students often pose thoughtful questions. In fact, great questions seem to be a catalytic factor for great learning. For example, Isidore Rabi, who won a Nobel Prize for physics, responded in this way when asked why he had chosen to become a scientist: “My mother made me a scientist without ever knowing it. Every other child would come back from school and be asked, ‘What did you learn today?’ But my mother used to say, ‘Izzy, did you ask a good question today?’ That made the difference.”[11]

Far from being threatening to faith, such a model of inquiry is intellectually stimulating and can lead to deep spiritual satisfaction. Former BYU president Cecil O. Samuelson taught, “Some seem to believe that faith and questions are antithetical. Such could not be further from the truth. The Restoration itself was unfolded by the proper and necessary melding of both. The Prophet Joseph Smith had both faith and questions. . . . Ours is a gospel of questions, and our lives in all of their spheres require thoughtful and appropriate inquiry if we are going to progress.”[12] Further, in dealing with the issue of inquiry, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks wrote, “What is the asking of a question if not itself a profound expression of faith. . . . To ask is to believe that somewhere there is an answer. . . . Critical intelligence is the gift God gave to humanity, . . . one of the great ways of serving God.”[13]

Asking thought-provoking questions also requires a measure of curiosity, a probing passion. Speaking of the importance of inquiry and curiosity, Latter-day Saint author John L. Sorensen offers this constructive criticism:

It continues to strike me how incurious many of our [LDS] people are, how they want to hear the same thing over and over again. . . . I am convinced that we have a long way to go in uncovering the stone box of meaning where the scriptures lie passively for too many of us. The first thing we need is an opening up of curiosity, a willingness to accept that it is okay to be curious, it is okay to try to learn something new. If we merely accept the status quo in our studies, we find ourselves playing the tape over and over again instead of grasping the riches of light for ourselves.[14]

Such earnest inquiry need not be limited to the field of religion, either, for as Brigham Young emphasized, the gospel encompasses all fields and all truths.[15] The Prophet Joseph Smith himself possessed a keen curiosity and voracious appetite for secular learning. When he was studying languages in the School of the Prophets, his teacher commented that “Joseph was the calf that sucked three cows. He acquired knowledge very rapidly.”[16] Such a zest for learning demonstrates Joseph’s faithful, intellectual pursuits.

Single-Minded Devotion and Serious Reflection

However, the early nineteenth-century milieu in which Joseph Smith was immersed is entirely unlike the rapid digital age (an engulfing ocean of information) we live in. When used properly, such technology can hasten the work of the Lord;[17] conversely, this deluge of data can plunge us into the depths of unfathomable distractions. Elder Scott D. Whiting observed, “Being constantly ‘plugged in’ can drown out the quiet whisperings and subtle impressions of the Holy Ghost, breaking our personal connection with God and making it difficult, if not impossible, to receive personal revelation.”[18] Randall L. Ridd explained “There are countless ways technology can distract you from what is most important. . . . Your brain cannot concentrate on two things at once. Multitasking amounts to quickly shifting your focus from one thing to another. An old proverb says, ‘If you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either one.’”[19] Regarding our mindful choices, Hugh Nibley observed, “Sin is waste. It is doing one thing when you should be doing other and better things for which you have the capacity.”[20]

The single-minded mental exertion exhibited by Joseph Smith prior to his First Vision experience serves as an ideal model to navigate the modern informational gales that threaten to engulf us. His canonized history reveals that his “mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness” (Joseph Smith—History 1:8). He wondered, “Who of all these parties [churches] are right?” (Joseph Smith—History 1:10). And in his account, he used proactive words such as “laboring” and “reading” as he “reflected” on the penetrating invitation from the Epistle of James, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:5; as noted in Joseph Smith—History 1:11–12). At an early age, Joseph discovered the key to unlock the portals of heaven as he carefully “came to the determination to ‘ask of God’” (Joseph Smith—History 1:13).

Joseph’s experience outlined in his inspired history (Joseph Smith—History 1:11–19) presents a clear view of how revelation is received: by diligently giving our minds the time and full attention to things of “deep import.” Although Joseph’s account explains that he was greatly impacted as he meditated on James 1:5, perhaps Joseph was also influenced by what followed three verses later: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). In order to receive revelation, we must give our whole minds to the quest for truth. Joseph’s process—asking questions, reading, pondering, and praying with single-minded devotion—provides a formula to prepare the mind to receive revelation, a formula equally suitable for both prophets and the rank-and-file members of Christ’s Church.[21] Joseph taught, “God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them.”[22]

This revelatory journey often begins with a careful, word-by-word study in the scriptures. For instance, concerning an investigation of mind (including various forms of the word, such as minds and minded), the word occurs in the Standard Works a total of 239 times: in the Old Testament, 46 times; New Testament, 76; Book of Mormon, 61; Doctrine and Covenants, 43; and Pearl of Great Price, 13. Select passages from prophets and apostles in both ancient and modern scripture provide many thoughts on this important topic.

Paul’s Instruction on Serving God with All Our Mind

The Pauline Epistles give illuminating instruction on coming to know the mind of the Lord and learning how to serve him with all our mental capacity. On one occasion, Paul queried, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord?” (Romans 11:34). He then offers a partial answer: “the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

Paul explained that compliance is required to receive divine tutoring, complete mental submission “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Such strict compliance heightens our spiritual vision and allows us to see more clearly the pathway necessary for our eternal progression.[23] In contrast, Paul revealed that the Jews became spiritually blind by looking beyond the redemption which Christ offered (2 Corinthians 3:14; see also Jacob 4:14).

Regarding corruption of mind, Paul wrote in his epistle to the Romans of those “who did not like to retain God in their knowledge; [therefore] God gave them over to a reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28). He further warned, “To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:16), and he later offered the hope of a transformation “by the renewing of . . . mind” (Romans 12:2). Paul described certain men with “corrupt minds, and destitute of truth” (1 Timothy 6:5).

In another letter, Paul extended the invitation to repent of mental mire. To the Saints of Ephesus, he charged: “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23). The Corinthian Saints were encouraged to have “a willing mind” (2 Corinthians 8:12), and a “ready mind” (2 Corinthians 8:19).

In an attempt to protect the Saints of Thessalonica from deception, Paul warned them to “be not soon shaken in mind.” (2 Thessalonians 2:2) and encouraged the Saints to look unto Christ “lest [they] be wearied and faint in [their] minds” (Hebrews 12:3), for “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Concerning vanity (minding only ourselves) and humility (minding others), Paul counseled the ancient Saints of Colossae to “put on . . . humbleness of mind” (Colossians 3:12), and pointed out those who “were sometime alienated and enemies in . . . mind by wicked works” (Colossians 1:21). In visiting Ephesus he hoped those assembled would “walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Ephesians 4:17), but “be renewed in the spirit of [their] mind” (Ephesians 4:23). Further, Paul extended the Saints of Philippi the invitation to “let this mind [of esteeming others above oneself] be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

Paul also addresses the need for unity, to “be of one mind” (2 Corinthians 13:11). We were also told in our dispensation that if we are not one, we are not Christ’s (D&C 38:27). The people of Enoch were a Zion people “because they were of one heart, and one mind” (Moses 7:18). This unity of mind and heart includes being one with the Father and Son and being full of gratitude for the diversity of gifts we each possess, for our Father in Heaven, and for his son Jesus Christ, “the King of Zion” (Moses 7:53). Cornelius Plantinga explained, “the life of the mind has nothing to do with carving a niche for ourselves, or making a name for ourselves. . . . It is an act in which we get pulled out of our nervous little egoisms and combine together in a kingdom project so much bigger than any of us, so much grander than all of us.”[24] The plan of salvation often centers around working together as a team, whether it be as families, as colleagues, or as fellow citizens of Christ’s church.[25]

The Book of Mormon on Serving God with Our Mind

Through his inspired selection and editing of sacred records, the prophet Mormon also emphasizes the importance of serving God with our mind. Mormon gleaned this inspired question from the writings of King Benjamin: “How knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?" (Mosiah 5:13). He also recorded the words of Limhi, who had taught his people, “If ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind . . . , he will . . . deliver you” (Mosiah 7:33). Further, after Corianton had been involved in serious sexual transgression, Alma sought to restore his son Corianton by exhorting him to “turn to the Lord with all [his] mind” (Alma 39:13).

The Book of Mormon often illustrates changes in mind and heart. In writing of Alma’s mission to reclaim the apostate Zoramites, Mormon observed that “the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else; . . . therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God” (Alma 31:5). Mormon was familiar with such things and described himself as “being somewhat of a sober mind,” and, at the tender age of fifteen, he “was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus” (Mormon 1:15). In an epistle to his own son, Moroni, Mormon explained that angels show themselves “unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness” (Moroni 7:30; see also Jacob 3:1).

In another impassioned letter to his son, Mormon pled that Moroni would “be faithful in Christ” and desired that “the hope of [Christ’s] glory and of eternal life [would] rest in [his] mind forever” (Moroni 9:25). With his father’s teachings imbedded in his mind and heart, Moroni concluded his writings with a powerful and persuasive invitation to “come unto Christ, be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your . . . mind . . . that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:32, emphasis added).[26]

Teachings from Modern Scriptures, Prophets, and Apostles

The theme of devoting our minds fully to God is reiterated in modern scriptures and by Latter-day prophets and apostles.

The weekly renewal of sacramental covenants regularly reminds us of our mindful labor “to always remember him [Christ],” a phrase mentioned in partaking of both the bread and the water (D&C 20:77, 79). Elder Russell M. Nelson explained, “The word sacrament comes from two Latin stems: sacr meaning ‘sacred,’ and ment meaning ‘mind.’ It implies sacred thoughts of the mind. Even more compelling is the Latin word sacrament, which literally means ‘oath or solemn obligation.’ Partaking of the sacrament might therefore be thought of as a renewal by oath of the covenant previously made in the waters of baptism. It is a sacred mental moment.”[27] The Savior himself declared, “Look unto me in every thought” (D&C 6:36).

The word always invites us to have the Lord uppermost in our minds constantly, which implies continually pure and holy thoughts. The conditional promise is that if “we let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly; then shall [our] confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon [our minds] as the dews from heaven” (D&C 121:45).

Those who attended the School of the Prophets learned to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). One reason for such diligent, faithful study is because the enlightened man has the advantage in the next life. “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:18‒19). This passage may possibly suggest that while knowledge is gained through diligence, intelligence is obtained through obedience.[28]

After one obtains knowledge by study and faith (D&C 88:118), it then becomes incumbent upon him or her to bless and serve others (D&C 88:79-80). Brigham Young University adopted this theme as its unofficial motto: “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.”[29] Those who serve diligently with all their minds receive additional blessings. For example, a modern-day revelation promises, “And any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom, and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind” (D&C 84:80). A faithful disciple’s mind is invigorated and illuminated with the specific inspiration necessary for those the disciple serves.

Yet Elder Maxwell cautions that some “find it easier to bend their knees than their minds.”[30] When we choose to be less faithful or to be proud, we forfeit the blessings of a faithful, humble mind. Early Church members were reproved for not using the Book of Mormon nor abiding by its precepts. They were told that their minds had “been darkened because of unbelief and because [they] treated lightly the things [they] received” (see D&C 84:54, 57). Others, such as David Whitmer, struggled to focus his mind on the things of God. He was chastised in a revelation, “Your mind has been on the things of the earth more than on the things of me, your Maker, and the ministry whereunto you have been called” (D&C 30:2).

To avoid darkness of mind, we must focus on the source of all light, God. We must “serve him with all [our] heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2). In order to serve God, we “keep the commandments, yea, with all [our] might, mind and strength” (D&C 11:20; emphasis added).

Church members who were willing to strive to serve God with all their minds received a sacred invitation from the Lord to abide his very presence: “Sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the day will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you” (D&C 88:68). Yet some early Saints had been told that they were not then “able to abide the presence of God” and were encouraged to not let their “minds turn back” (D&C 67:14), but rather to “remain steadfast in [their minds] in solemnity and the spirit of prayer” (D&C 84:61). Those who did so had “their minds pointed to by the angels” (D&C 121:27), had “the veil” taken from their minds (D&C 110:1), and saw the Lord Jesus Christ in his glory (D&C 110:2‒3).

Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon realized this glorious blessing while actively engaged in translating and restoring the Bible.[31] As they prepared themselves for instruction by thoughtful reflection and diligent inquiry, they experienced a series of glorious visions, a portion of which is now known as Doctrine and Covenants section 76. A marvelous blessing and implicit invitation appears in the synopsis of this section for verses 114‒119: “All the faithful may see the vision of the degrees of glory.” Elder Bruce R. McConkie elaborated on this invitation:

God is no respecter of persons. He will give revelation to me and to you on the same terms and conditions. I can see what Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw in the vision of the degrees of glory—and so can you. I can entertain angels and see God, I can receive an outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit—and so can you. There are goals to gain, summits to climb, revelations to receive. In the eternal scope of things, we have scarcely started out on the course to glory and exaltation. The Lord wants his saints to receive line upon line, precept on precept, truth upon truth, revelation upon revelation, until we know all things and have become like him.”[32]

This gradual process of receiving revelation often necessitates a keen, mindful recognition. Oliver Cowdery was told he would receive divine instruction in both his mind and heart (see D&C 8:2), and he was counseled to study things out in his own mind and then ask for the Lord’s confirmation (see D&C 9:8). He learned that revelation flowed when his mind was enlightened (see D&C 6:15; 11:13) and at peace (see D&C 6:23). Joseph Smith taught, “A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may . . . grow into the principle of revelation.”[33]

Joseph and Oliver enjoyed this flow of pure intelligence to their minds shortly after their baptisms. In Joseph’s history, he observed that they “were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation. Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of” (Joseph Smith—History 73‒74). Such an unveiling of spiritual thought is given to faithful disciples who “treasure up in [their] minds continually the words of life” with the promise that “it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man” (D&C 84:85). In addition, the Lord promised that “whoso treasureth up my word shall not be deceived” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37).

If we are faithful and mindful, not only can the Holy Ghost enlighten our minds, it can transform them. Elder Parley P. Pratt enumerated the transforming effects of the Holy Ghost, which “quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. . . . It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man.”[34]


Loving and serving God with all diligence of mind opens the heavens and transforms man. It is a process involving thoughtful obedience, implementation of faithful inquiry, single-minded devotion, and serious reflection. Serving God mindfully is our work, and it is vital to our eternal progression. Single-minded devotion must lie at our core, for as the Proverbs declare, “As [a man] thinketh in his heart [mind], so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). The divine promise beckons: “Sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the day will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you” (D&C 88:68). If we fully love and serve God with all our minds, we will become like God and eventually know him as he knows us (see 1 Corinthians 13:12).


[1] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007), 267.

[2] Concerning a Christian scholar’s charge to love God with all our mind, see Cornelius Plantinga, “Pray the Lord My Mind to Keep,” Christianity Today, August 10, 1998, 50‒52. For a book-length view on this topic, see Dr. Gene Edward Veith Jr, Loving God with All Your Mind: Thinking as a Christian in the Postmodern World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003).

[3] The root of the Hebrew word avodah, ͑ bd, is attested in Semitic languages and generally means the word serve. It means to work in a general way and also specifically in cultic service such as the Levitical work of presenting offerings or attending to service in the tent of meeting. It may be best described as a physical manifestation of worship. See U. Rüterswörden, H. Seimian-Yofre and H. Ringgren’s article on the word “abad” along with other forms of it in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry, trans. Douglas W. Stott, 15 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999), 10:377, 403–4. Also see Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament . . . (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951), 715, wherein the authors define avodah as labour or work. In addition, this word is used when speaking of repairs to the temple or when erecting the tabernacle as well as other aspects of temple and tabernacle service. Based upon the lexical work of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, William Holladay also translates the word avodah as “work,” “labor,” “forced labor,” “service,” “(cultic) service” and “worship” in A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1971), 262.

[4] Lectures on Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), 72.

[5] forchrist.org/2012/08/18/harvard-college-mission-statement-in-1636/.

[6] The Apologists Bible Commentary John 17 at www.forananswer.org/John/Jn17_3.htm. This Greek verb can be translated to mean “to know” or “come to know.” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed. revised and augmented by Walter Bauer, F. Wilbur Gingrich, William F. Arndt, and Frederick W. Danker from Walter Bauer’s 5th ed., 1958 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), 160.

[7] See also Matthew’s account of this incident, in which he notes that Jesus told an inquiring lawyer which was the greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37).

[8] John W. Welch, “And with All Thy Mind,” Brigham Young University 2003–2004 Speeches (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 2004), 108, 110.

[9] Arnold H. Green, “Discernment for Journeying through Babylon to Athens and Zion,” BYU devotional, July 5, 2005, in Speeches of the Year, 2005–2006 (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 2006), 87-88.

[10] Welch, “And with All Thy Mind,” 108.

[11] Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, “Did you ask a good question today?” www.aish.com/sp/ph/68197797.html.

[12] President Cecil O. Samuelson Jr., “The Importance of Asking Questions,” BYU devotional, November 13, 2001, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year, 2001–2002 (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 2002), 149, 152.

[13] Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, “Did you ask a good question today?”

[14] John L. Sorenson, in “An Interview with John L. Sorenson,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 11 (2002): 85.

[15] Discourses of Brigham Young, comp. John A. Widtsoe, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954), 332.

[16] Ray B. West Jr., Kingdom of the Saints (New York: Viking Press, 1957), 61.

[17] See M. Russell Ballard, “Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet, Ensign, July 2008, 58.

[18] Scott D. Whiting, “Digital Detachment and Personal Revelation,” Ensign, March 2010, 17.

[19] Randall L. Ridd, “The Choice Generation,” April 2014 Conference talk. For a summary on the ability of the brain to focus on only one thing at a time, see John J. Medina, a developmental molecular biologists’ research: brainrules.net/about-brain-rules Accessed, November 24, 2014. For more detail on this topic, see the book by John J. Medina, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (Edmunds, WA: Pear Press, 2008). [Is the following another “See also”?] Nigel Calder, The Mind of Man (London: British Broadcasting, 1970), 25, cited in Hugh Nibley, “Zeal without Knowledge,” in Approaching Zion, ed. Don E. Norton (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: FARMS, 1989), 63. On the other hand, it can be soundly argued that the brain and the mind are two separate entities. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith wrote, “The mind is not the brain. No one has, by the aid of science ever been able to discover the mind, to circumscribe it, to declare its length or breadth, or to weigh it. It has been to all most elusive and yet they know it exists, and the brain is the seat of its operation. . . . The mind, or intellect, with which we do our thinking is not composed of physical matter. . . . It is from [the] Spirit that we obtain our understanding; it is this Spirit that quickens our mind, that helps us to think, to gain knowledge, and even with those who pervert the ways of the Lord and rebel against him, it is the light of truth or Spirit of Christ which they attempt to prostitute and turn from its rightful channel. Where, then, do we search for the mind? It is not a part of the mortal body although the mortal body--brain--is the agency through which it works. The Mind is in the Spirit which inhabits the body, or the source from which comes our thinking, our love of knowledge, our power to know and understand.” Joseph Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954), 255–58. The author wishes to express thanks to Jerry Reynolds, who reviewed this article and shared this reference with him.

[20] Hugh Nibley, “Zeal without Knowledge,” 66. Nibley (67) also notes the capacity of human ability by citing Arthur Clarke’s observation that we use only about one percent of our brains, “and glimpse the profounder resources of our minds only once or twice in a lifetime.” Further, “Doctors and trainers often see perfectly developed bodies, but nobody can even begin to imagine what a perfect mind would be like; that is where the whole range of progress and growth must take place.” See Hugh Nibley, “But What Kind of Work?” in Approaching Zion, 277.

[21] President Boyd K. Packer stated, “No message in scripture is repeated more often than the invitation, even the command, to pray—to ask.” Boyd K. Packer, “Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign November 1994, 59.

[22] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 268.

[23] Alma taught that those who obeyed with “heed and diligence” would receive “the greater portion of the word [of God], until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full” (Alma 12:9). The Prophet Joseph Smith further noted, “God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect.” Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1948), 2:8.

[24] Cornelius Plantinga, “Pray the Lord My Mind to Keep,” Christianity Today, August 10, 1998, 50.


[26] JST Matthew 16:26 explains, “For a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself of all ungodliness, and every worldly lust and keep my [God’s] commandments.”

[27] Russell M. Nelson, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, March 1983.

[28] Intelligence is also defined as “light and truth” (D&C 93:36). Such intelligence brings a true sense of reality, “of things as they really are” (Jacob 4:13). In contrast, Satan, the rebel, sought to destroy man’s agency. He had knowledge, but he “knew not the mind of God” (Moses 4:3–6). Those who do not yield their minds to obedience are often limited by their poor choices and therefore do not receive the additional light to put the pieces of the life’s puzzle together. Rather, they remain “ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Though learned, they are foolish, “supposing they know of themselves” (2 Nephi 9:28), while those who continue to follow the truths Jesus taught are made free (see John 8:32).

[29] deseretnews.com/article/695197761/BYU-not-alone-in-using-motto-enter-to-learn.html?pg=all (accessed August 14, 2013). The “Aims of a BYU Education contains a learning model which states the following: “BYU undergraduates should acquire . . . the ability to engage successfully in logical reasoning, critical analysis, moral discrimination, creative imagination, and independent thought.” aims.byu.edu/p/aims/ (accessed August 14, 2013).

[30] Neal A. Maxwell, “Settle this in your hearts,” October 1992 Conference talk.

[31] The verse they were translating was John 5:29, which dealt with the resurrection of those who had done good and evil.

[32] Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Improvement Era, December 1969, 85.

[33] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 132.

[34] Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 9th ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1965), 101.