This first chapter sets a precedent for the rest of First Nephi as well as the Book of Mormon. After Nephi’s introductions, he immediately explains how his father, Lehi, received revelation.
In verse 5 we read that Lehi prayed to the Lord with all his heart. It was no half-effort. Lehi sought to know God’s will and therefore prayed with real intent … much like young Joseph did in the Sacred Grove. And, just as Joseph, Lehi received an answer to his prayers via a pillar of light. Nephi describes it as a pillar of fire, wherein he “saw and heard much” which caused him to “quake and tremble exceedingly.” Both young Joseph and Lehi resolved to do something after receiving their marvelous revelations.
A second method of receiving revelation is revealed when we read how Lehi is overcome with the Spirit as he casts himself on his bed. A vision is opened up to him and he sees God, Jesus Christ and the Twelve Disciples of Christ. The first of the Twelve (perhaps Peter) gives Lehi a book to read. This becomes the third method of receiving revelation. Lehi reads the book and is filled with the Spirit of the Lord. He sees the destruction of Jerusalem and as such, he is obligated to warn the people of the impending dangers of not repenting of sins.
How can we apply these teachings to our lives?
The modern prophets have counseled us many times regarding these teachings.
First, we must pray always. Our prayers must be meaningful and sincere. They should not be so light as to bounce off the ceiling and right back into the floor. We should truly commune with God so that we know his will concerning us.
Second, we must search and study the scriptures to gain knowledge. Mere reading of the scriptures is not wholly enough. We ought to search and ponder what the scriptures mean and think about how we can apply them to our own lives.
And lastly, we must meditate on the things we learn. We may not always receive visions as Lehi did, but in those quiet moments, we will feel the stirrings of the Holy Ghost within our hearts and we will know what we must resolve to do in order to do the Lord’s will.
If we do these things, we will not only be protected against Satan and his temptations, but we will be blessed with guidance from above and we will rejoice when we follow coucil given by the Spirit.