12 Tips to Get the Most From Your Scripture Study
One of the best things my kids learned from serving a mission is how to get the most from their scriptures each day.
Having two children leave and come home from a mission was a great experience. (Okay, maybe not having them leave so much. But having them come home was great!) When each of them came home, I got to witness first hand how they had learned to study their scriptures and quite literally immerse themselves in the gospel.
Apparently, reading the Book of Mormon while laying in bed dozing off and having the book hit you in the nose repeatedly to remind you that you aren’t done yet is NOT the way to go. I realized I had some repenting to do and I needed to learn what my children had learned.
My son’s advice was “Just do it”. A sneaker commercial? That didn’t really help much.
My daughter, on the other hand, took the time to show me the way. I can’t thank her enough for that. It has changed everything for me. It’s been nine months now and my scripture study time has become the most valuable time of my day, and for the first time in my life I feel like I am really gaining something from it.
So here are 12 steps I have taken to improve my scripture study:
Pray before you begin
You’d think this one would seem obvious, but it wasn’t to me. When I pray before I start my reading, asking for that ONE particular message that is meant for me, I never fail to recognize it.
I absolutely love the quiet, so morning works best for me. I find that if I leave it for later in the day I end up trying to squeeze it in between other things I am doing. If it means getting up early before everyone else in the house is awake, it is worth it. The best time to study will be different for everyone, but the most important thing is to find your time and stick with it.
Learn how to mark your scriptures in a meaningful way
Remember those days in Seminary when the teacher would tell you to get your magic red pencil and mark a particular verse, or tell you what to write in the margins? I do. I don’t know if that’s still a thing, but I kind of hope not. What’s meaningful to me might not be important to you. We all have our own questions and need our own answers.
Learn how to use the footnotes and cross reference things
Studying is so much more than just reading. Do you know what all the symbols in the footnotes mean? I do now, but I didn’t 10 months ago. If a particular verse is jumping out at you, stop where you are and go to your footnotes, or the Bible Dictionary, or the Topical Guide and do some research.
Take notes and don’t be afraid to write on the pages
One of my favorite new discoveries is WIDE MARGIN SCRIPTURES. There is so much more room to write and take notes! And don’t fret about messing up the pages (am I the only one that does that?) because it is all about what you’re thinking and feeling in that moment. And that leads me directly into my next point:
Own more than one set of scriptures
I have done two separate scripture study challenges recently. I’ll talk about one of them in a later post, but the important thing to state is that I bought a separate set of scriptures for both challenges. I didn’t want the markings from one challenge to influence my study in the other. It was a great move. When I compare how I marked one set with how I marked the other, the differences are very telling.
Keep a scripture journal
I’m not even sure how I stumbled into the scripture journaling world, but I did. I’m planning a series of posts on this topic for a later time and I’ll introduce you to some of my favorite sites for scripture journaling, but in the meantime, the important thing here is to WRITE. Just write. Not your everyday journaling about how you did the laundry and went to the store. This is about your revelation, your feelings, the lessons you’re learning as you study. It doesn’t have to be writing, either. Doodle, draw, whatever floats your boat. And speaking of writing…
Organize your notes!
I know that my son likes keeping his notes in his phone in the app. That’s great if it works for you, but I’m a paper person. Nothing beats handwritten notes, printed out talks with doodles, thoughts, and highlighted passages on them. I have several different notebooks that I keep my journaling in depending on what I am studying at the moment. I have a binder with my Come Follow Me notes and talks in it too.
The notes I take are on printable sheets that go along with the lessons as I follow along in my Come Follow Me manual. I find that I get the most from my scripture study l when I have a place to write my thoughts down as I go. I print them out along with the talks that go with the lesson and I'm totally willling to share! If you'd like a copy of these pages, click the LINK:
Find meaningful content that goes along with what you’re reading.
I love reference material! One of my favorites right now is this book by David J. Ridges.
It goes hand in hand with the study of the New Testament, breaking things down into events and putting them in chronological order. There is information about the culture of the time, the setting in which events happened, and background information. I love it! I feel like I get the most from my scripture study when I learn details like this. Each section ends with questions that you can think about and answer. I’ve been using them a lot in my journaling. If you teach on Sunday, this would be a great resource to have!
Include the words of living prophets
You can find a conference talk or Ensign address for nearly every topic you study. We’ve been provided a living prophet so we can benefit from his words that are meant for our day. Be sure you’re not overlooking them.
Collect quote and scriptures that stick out to you
Print them out, make them into stickers, or just write them on a post-it. Stick these where you are likely to see them often and be reminded.
When you’re done, be quiet.
This one can be hard, especially if you have young kids in your midst. Try not to jump right up and go back to your normal bustling day immediately. Sometimes it takes a little while for the Spirit to speak to you, so if you have the TV or radio on, you might not hear it.
I hope these ideas will help you in your studies!
I'd also love to hear what ideas YOU are using in your personal study! Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments or join me on Facebook! I'd love to start a meaningful discussion so that we can all help each other make the most of our scripture study time!