I started reading the Book of Mormon for the umpteenth time a couple of weeks ago. I thought I’d try a new technique to see if I could get something more out of scripture study. I came across something interesting while reading about Lehi’s vision in the first chapter of 1 Nephi. Sort of like a step-by-step process to receiving a vision.
First, in verse 5, it states that Lehi “prayed unto the Lord . . . with all his heart, in behalf of his people.” I think this is not only an important step, but a fundamental one as well.
It shows that Lehi’s desires were not selfish. The things for which he prayed were for the benefit of others. In addition, it shows that Lehi put his entire self into his prayer. He didn’t just go through the motions or recite the same thing he does every night while lying in bed.
So fundamentally, anyone desiring to have a vision should come to the point where their desires are for the welfare of others and their prayers are completely devoted to God.
Secondly, in verse six, a pillar of fire appears before Lehi while he is praying. He saw and heard many things as a result of this. For us, this may very well be figurative. Often the Holy Spirit is compared to fire (burning of the bosom, baptism of fire, etc), so for us, it may be that in our prayers the Spirit brings revelation to our minds and spiritual eyes.
Moses talked in Moses 1:11 regarding how he saw God not with his physical eyes, but his spiritual eyes. Perhaps an experience like this would be a preparatory one, readying our “spiritual eyes” to see God.
Third, verse six also mentions that Lehi “did quake and tremble exceedingly”. The footnote for this points to Isaiah 6:5. Here, Isaiah is lamenting his unworthiness at seeing the Lord, saying “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips”.
My understanding of Lehi’s shaking and trembling ?¢‚Ç¨‚Äù when compared to the verse in Isaiah ?¢‚Ç¨‚Äù is that perhaps Lehi is feeling unworthy regarding the things he heard and saw earlier.
So another requirement is humility.
Fourth, in verse seven, we learn that Lehi was so overcome by the spirit that he cast himself on his bed. I never have been to the point where the Spirit has manifested to me so strongly that I lost strength. Yet I still have had spiritual experiences in prayer or reading the scriptures when I stopped to ponder the things that had come to my mind.
Obviously then, it is important for us to not only be aware of revelations and inspiration but to take the time to ponder them.
It was only after these things had happen did Lehi receive his vision.
So to recap, the requirements are selflessness, full purpose of heart, humility, and pondering the revelations from the Spirit.
As a disclaimer, I do not know that this order would be the same for everyone or that this pattern is followed in all other instances in the scriptures. I would be interested in a comparative analysis of the process others have used in the scriptures. Maybe another time.