If you are in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for any significant amount of time, you will likely come across the phrase “broken heart and contrite spirit”. The scripture most commonly used regarding this phrase is 3 Ne 9:20:
Ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit
But what does “a broken heart’ mean?
The popular usage of the phrase is summed up on Wikipedia: a common metaphor used to describe the intense emotional pain or suffering one feels after losing a loved one. I am leery of the idea that this is what Jesus meant, that we wouldn’t be baptised by fire unless we lose a loved one.
So what does it mean then? Consider these two facets of farming.
“Breaking a horse” is common phrase. Wild horses do not let persons ride themselves. They need to be trained to accept riders. Thus a broken horse accepts its master.
“Breaking the ground” is another phrase referring to the entire practise of tilling, ploughing, and harrowing. Basically, it’s what a farmer does to prepare the soil for planting. Thus broken ground accepts planted seeds.
I wonder then if using these two examples, we can define a broken heart as a heart that accepts its master (as in Jesus) and the gospel seed (see Alma 32).