by Bradly Baird:
At least once a year, our ward or stake establishes an initiative within the membership that encourages everyone to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover. Typically, the timeframe for such engagement is spread across the course of a year or over the summer, and offers everyone the opportunity to dive deep into the book and receive the attendant benefits of in-depth study.
Three weeks ago, our ward leadership asked everyone to read the entire book in just 31 days. To complete the task means that each person should be reading at least seventeen pages a day. It is an easily achievable goal, but it does take some time (and sacrifice).
When I first jumped into the exercise, I worried that I wouldn't receive a lot of spiritual value; because I wouldn't have the time to dive deep into the language, notes, and meaning of each chapter. I also wondered what purpose such rapid reading would serve.
Despite these reservations, I began to read according to a schedule published on a little notecard by someone in the ward. The effect of reading in this manner was remarkable, and I felt an incredible wave of the Spirit seize upon my soul. When I arrived at about 1 Nephi 8, I was suddenly reminded of Parley Pratt's own experience when he first opened the book and began to read:
"I opened [The Book of Mormon] with eagerness, and read its title page. . . . I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep. As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists.And then I understood.
My joy was now full and I rejoiced sufficiently to more than pay me for all the sorrows, sacrifices, and toils of my life . . . I esteemed this book for the information contained in it more than all the riches of the world. Yes, I verily believed that I would not exchange the knowledge that I then possessed for a legal title to all the beautiful farms, houses, villages, and property which passed in review before me in my journey through one of the most flourishing settlements of Western New York."
The point of the exercise was not to give us deep insight into the Book of Mormon. The point of the exercise was to offer an opportunity to convert each of us anew and to anchor our souls to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition, the point of the exercise was to teach us something about the law of sacrifice: what would each of us give up—in this case time and personal energy—in order to devote more to the plan of our Heavenly Father.
And so it is that I wholeheartedly recommend the exercise. Whenever you feel your faith flagging; whenever you feel disconnected from the Spirit and perhaps feel "flat." Shut off the television, pick up the book, open your mind and heart; and allow the remarkable Book of Mormon to convert you and grab hold of your soul.
Bradly Allen Baird is the father of two amazing children and has been married for almost twenty years. He served a mission in Finland, though he was really supposed to serve in Uruguay. His professional meanderings include everything from education to economic development, to human capital management in the IT industry (hopefully this one sticks); and spends his Saturdays hanging out with the missionaries in Provo, or racing back and forth between his children's activities in tae kwon do and elite cheerleading. Bradly also survived an MBA program; developed a somewhat limited interest in music, theater, film, urban planning, judaica, liberation theology, politics, israel, and latin american history; studies the influence of graphic imagery on public space; wrote a thesis about Leonard Bernstein, is obsessed with the American Symphonists, and reads publications like The Tablet and the Jewish Daily Forward.
Image credit: Chanae Anderson (used with permission).