The prophets and apostles have always counselled church members to immerse themselves daily in the words of the scriptures. They’ve promised that, as we follow this counsel, we will draw nearer to Christ and experience “benefits and blessings of many kinds.”
It’s clear that daily scripture study is the most profitable type of study in which we can engage, and we all understand how important it is, but it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Healthy lifelong habits are especially hard to form if we don’t approach them the right way — and even more so when life gets busy and hectic. Reading every day can start to feel more like a checkmark on your never-ending to-do list rather than a spiritual experience.
Let’s admit that many of us could use some tips on how to study scripture more effectively. Here are some ways to combat your struggle with daily study and to make your scripture time more meaningful.
Use Study Tools to Supplement Your Reading
If you’re trying to really buckle down and have structured scripture time, whether on your own or with your family, you might find it useful to use gospel study tools to guide your study. The church has provided several of these tools right inside your scriptures, including the Topical Guide and the Bible Dictionary. You can flip to these for suggested study verses about specific topics or terms. You can even use the hymn book, which includes scripture verses at the bottom of each hymn. Reference these verses to delve deeper into the doctrine behind your favorite sacred songs.
You could also use the older church manuals used in seminary, institute, and Sunday School or the Come, Follow Me manual to get a jump start on next Sunday’s lesson. Depending on which book of scripture you’re focusing on, you should track down a study tool specific to what you’re reading, such as a Book of Mormon Study Edition or a journal made for the study of the New Testament. If you don’t want to use a journal and would prefer to write impressions directly in your scriptures, consider a wide-margin Book of Mormon journal with space to write next to the verses.
Develop a List of Questions to Ponder as You Read
Another effective way to have a meaningful scripture study is to come up with a list of questions before you read, to which you want to find answers. The intent behind these questions is entirely up to you. You might be seeking guidance for your life, answers to doctrinal questions, or direct answers to prayer. As you read, highlight the verses that stand out to you. It’s amazing how much personal revelation you can receive in just one sitting if you approach your reading this way.
Discuss With Friends and Loved Ones
Leaders of the church advise members to read the scriptures by themselves and with their family and ward members. There’s something about studying the words of Christ together that can not only strengthen those relationships but can also help you glean new insights and perspectives from those you love. Plus, it’s fun to learn from the people you’re close to. You might be surprised at how much you can learn about people you already know from their scriptural insights.
Read With a Specific Individual in Mind
As a parent, bishop, teacher, or anyone else with stewardship over another person, you probably read the scriptures with the intent to receive revelation for your children, students, ward members, and other loved ones. When you open your Bible or Book of Mormon, think of an individual in your life who needs help — spiritually or otherwise. The Holy Ghost may help you find the verses that enable you to help this person. If you can’t think of anyone, pray before you read to be inspired, and you just might be guided to a person who needs you.
Figure Out What Time of Day Works Best for You
One of the best ways to have meaningful scripture study is to identify the time of day that you’re most in-tune with the Spirit. If you’re normally sluggish in the morning, wait until you’re more awake to read so you can be open to impressions. If evenings tend to be busy for you, read in the quiet hours of the morning, if that’s when you feel most refreshed. Find that perfect time of day for you and your schedule and stick with it.
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