Asking the right questions

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“For members of the Church, education is not merely a good idea—it’s a commandment. We are to learn ‘of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad’“ [see D&C 88:79-80]. …

“In our learning, let us not neglect the fountain of revelation. The scriptures and the words of modern-day apostles and prophets are the sources of wisdom, divine knowledge, and personal revelation to help us find answers to all the challenges in life. Let us learn of Christ; let us seek out that knowledge which leads to peace and truth, and the sublime mysteries of eternity“ (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Two Principles for Any Economy,“ Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 58).

From a child, we are constantly asking questions. Sometimes, as we grow we can lose this natural curiosity. If that happens, the speed, quantity and quality of learning slows and often the joy of learning dissipates. The good news is that life has a way of helping us continue our learning: problems.

No one is immune to problems in this life. Big and small, problems provide the impetus to ask questions and when the question is sincerely asked, then learning begins.

Life’s problems motivate and give us a reason to change. It’s destabilizing and uncomfortable, but in my experience so far, these problems are always a signal that there’s something new to learn and understand.

One of my favorite examples of learning is Joseph Smith and his search to find and follow the will of God.

“My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists. … On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to … disprove all others.
“In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it? …
“I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
“Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know. …
“At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God,’ concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture“ (Joseph Smith—History 1:9-13).

When we choose to believe that God is both willing and able to answer our questions, a new world of learning possibilities opens before us. This is important. We are not alone in the universe, but God our Father wishes to teach us and our great opportunity is to ask great questions and find answers. Neal A. Maxwell taught:

In our deepest prayers, when the agency of man encounters the omniscience of God, we sometimes sense, if only momentarily, how very provincial our petitions are; we perceive that there are more good answers than we have good questions; and we realize that we have been taught more than we can tell, for the language used is not that which the tongue can transmit. (Neal A. Maxwell, “Patience“, BYU Speeches, Nov 27, 1979)

With God, you can learn anything! It has always been so.