Monday, January 30, 2012

REKINDLE Your LOVE of the Scriptures

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I received a question on my FB page from reader Deanna last night.  She says this:

"Hi! I came across your blog last night and I'm so glad I did.  My husband was born and raised in the Church and I am a convert.  We had fallen away for about a year, and are just now starting to bring ourselves back to the Church in hopes to be sealed together [in the temple], etc.  I have a difficult time studying/reading the Book of Mormon.  Do you have any tips that may help me?  I would greatly appreciate it, and I really enjoy reading your blog."

First of all, I want to say, "Good for you, Deanna!"  There is no nobler goal than that of being sealed in the temple to your spouse and forming an eternal family.  (I can see that your family will soon be growing too! Congratulations!)

I have to confess that I am not the fastest reader in the galaxy.  I would much rather listen to someone lecture than read the exact same things, because I enjoy hearing their inflection, and I guess I'm just a people person.  Reading, to me, is sort of a lonely sport.  For instance, I can't hold a conversation with someone and read at the same time, so I suppose that might be my issue!  :)

Anyway, just off the top of my head.  This is what I would suggest to you, and to anyone else who wants to grow spiritually, but is having a hard time developing a love for scripture study.

First:  PRAY for guidance.  Ask the Lord to tell you through the Holy Ghost what method will bring YOU the most success in your desire to gain a love for the scriptures. (I'm assuming you've already done this.)  

Also pray every time you read.  Before.  During.  After. And remember that The Book of Mormon has a built in promise that if you pray about it, you will know of its truthfulness.  You can do this more than once! :)  (And there are many more promises that you can read about in the link above.)

Second: If you are finding it hard to read your scriptures, my first suggestion is to READ THE WORDS OF MODERN DAY PROPHETS.  Look up talks from recent General Conferences which talk about scriptures...and in your case, talk about temples, families, sealing, testimony, and returning to activity.  (Click here to study by topic.) 

Read one talk a day and then scroll down to the bottom and look up EVERY scripture referenced in the talk.  Keep a journal and record your thoughts about what you read every day.  It might help to write out your favorite verses in your journal or to READ ALOUD to keep you focused.

Third: I love the Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual.  You can access it online, but get yourself a hard copy if you can and start studying it.  I firmly believe that everyone needs to GAIN A TESTIMONY OF THE BASICS.  If I were you, I'd start by studying every concept taught in this manual.  Again, read EVERY scripture referenced in each lesson. 

3.5: Select scriptures to MEMORIZE - Click here for a manageable list of Book of Mormon verses from A-Z.  Your daily study could consist of just memorizing a scripture.  Post your favorite verses in places you can see them (and ponder them) throughout the day.  But don't just read them off the paper, look them up in your scriptures!

Fourth:  I never really became passionate about reading my scriptures until I read it because I REALLY wanted to know and understand its message...like my life depended on it.  

When I was in college, I read The Book of Mormon at the beginning of each study session, and I would often find myself studying my scriptures well into the time I should have been studying Portuguese (can you blame me?).  

What had changed?  My desire.  Make sure that you are hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Perhaps if you trained yourself to read a few verses of scripture EVERY time you wanted to watch TV, you'd start to RETRAIN YOUR DESIRES.

Fifth:  READ IT LIKE A NOVEL.  When I challenged myself to read the Book of Mormon in 30 Days, I found myself having to read 20-30 pages a day (depending on how far behind I got!)  Instead of getting bogged down in the "And it came to passes," I blew through stories rather quickly.  I might not have caught every intricate piece of doctrine, but I started to get  a better feel for the storylines and personalities in that book, which I didn't internalize as easily when I was reading only a few verses at a time.

Sixth:  TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TECHNOLOGY.  We live during a time when reading is not your only option for obtaining the word of the Lord.  

I listen to the scriptures sometimes in the car, and almost always have General Conference playing while I clean the kitchen.  We aren't like Tangled...living in a tower, with hours a day at our disposal to read, and bake, and play puzzles...but you can do yourself and your family a favor by choosing uplifting music and listening to scriptures and making those the permanent soundtrack for your home!  

Technology can help us to absorb good messages all the time if we use it correctly. (Click here for links to different scripture formats.)  And if you do read your scriptures online, it makes reading footnotes and cross-references much easier.

Seventh:  USE A SCRIPTURE-MARKING TUTORIAL like the ones at The Red Headed Hostess to bring a fresh perspective to the way that you study.  

Ultimately, what will relight the fire of your testimony is the influence of the Holy Ghost, which you will be most open to as you spend time in the scriptures every day!  Even if you only read a few scriptures each time, open your book and JUST DO IT! :)

So those are the suggestions that immediately came to mind, that have helped me to gain a love of the scriptures.  Now, I'm going to go take a dose of my own medicine.  

Do you have any suggestions to add to this list?  Please speak up and add your thoughts below.  I am sure that we will all appreciate it!

22 comments:

  1. I think you pretty much nailed it...any suggestions for staying awake?  :)

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  2. I would also recommend teaching gospel concepts to your children. When I'm forced to distill a passage of scripture down to the understanding of a 3 year old, it also helps me to understand it better. Imagine that! I'm probably much more on the level of my 3 year old than I'd like to admit.

    Also, using primary manuals that summarize the scriptures is helpful to get an understanding of the story line and context in which to place specific doctrines or sermons.

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  3. Great points...I totally agree!  Thanks for adding this!  I am absolutely the same way.  

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  4. I have a notebook that I keep with me when I am studying the scriptures, and I write down thoughts that come to me as I am reading.  Sometimes it is as simple as something I hadn't noticed before (which happens all the time - no matter how many times you have read the Book of Mormon), and sometimes it is more complex like very direct guidance of something I need to change or implement to help my family.  I have found that if I write these thoughts down as I go, I have a greater desire to stay engaged in order to receive more revelation.  And the faster and more diligently I follow the promptings, the more revelation I receive.  I use these notebooks when studying General Conference talks as well!

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  5. BEST. POST. EVER!

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  6. BEST. POST. EVER!

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  7. very helpful, thanks for all the suggestions...

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  8. Love this post, Jocelyn!  So many fantastic ideas.  I love Heather's thoughts as well.  :)  I'm feeling so inspired-- I'm ready to try a new approach to my scripture study, and this totally fit the bill.  Thanks!!!

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  9. That is excellent!!  Thank you for sharing...

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  10. Loved this! Trying to shake up my routine lately and this was very helpful! Especially the part about retraining your desires. I"m definitely gonna steal that sometime :)

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  11. Absolutely wonderful suggestions!  

    I would add that if you're trying to develop the habit of daily reading (something to help you BEFORE you get to the "My day isn't complete without scripture study" phase) it helps to have check lists and rewards and an accountability partner.  There are a lot of reading charts available, just google "Book of Mormon reading chart."  Seeing the squares filling up motivates me!  Plan to share your favorite thought from your daily reading with your husband/family each day.  Decide what special treat you want after "X" number of days of reading consistently.  Remember that little steps lead to big steps.It also helps to pick the same time to read every day.  At different stages in my life that's been first thing in the morning, last thing at night, during lunch or the baby's nap, waiting in the car pool line, etc.

    Oh, and keep multiple copies of the Book of Mormon around the house.  I have an old one upstairs in my nightstand, another in the living room (for family scripture study), and my "real" set of scriptures at my regular study spot in the family room.  it would also be smart to put one in the car. That way if I just have a couple of minutes free, I can read a few verses.  If I had a smart-phone, they could always be accessible!!

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  12. These are great ideas!  I would keep a BofM in the car, but haven't yet, because my kids would step on it or spill something on it...now that they are "growing up" maybe it's time! :)  Thank you!!

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  13. Good response, Jocelyn. Another thing that has increased my enjoyment of reading the scriptures is to read them using the topical guide. I think of something that is happening in my life, pick a key word that embodies the experience I'm having, look it up in the topical guide, and read all the scriptures pertaining to it.

    Not only am I more interested because I am in particular need, but I am giving the Lord an excellent opportunity to answer my prayers. I enjoy the scriptures most when I think of them as a set of words and phrases that Lord can use to communicate with me directly when I need it most...rather like a keyboard upon which he is typing out His answers to my prayers.

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  14. I was raised in the Church and I have only barely begun to feel that "my-day-isn't-complete-without-scripture-study" feeling. I have always loved the scripture stories, and I have always loved the scripture mastery verses, and always had some favorite scriptures, but until I was about 19 I didn't really have a love for actually reading the Book of Mormon (I liked to study it - using the topical guide, conference talks, etc). It has only been during this most recent "read-through" of the Book of Mormon that I have really craved reading it every day like a book.

    So don't feel bad if it comes slowly. And maybe start out with the scripture mastery verses, reading the scripture stories (you can find the neat synopses on the gospel art kit page at lds.org), and studying the parts that you like. Don't worry about loving to read straight through just yet - I think that will come as you start to get familiar with the stories and be people, and as you find favorite scripture verses (it is really fun for me to "run across" one of my favorite verses when I am reading straight through - reading my favorite verses in context is neat).

    The Church also has a Book of Mormon stories reader for under $10 that can be useful for familiarizing yourself with the stories - and each picture gives the reference verses in the scriptures, so you can get used to how things work in the scriptures but still get to read the story.

    And I wholeheartedly agree with prayer and following the spirit.

    May you be blessed in your efforts for an eternal family!

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  15. More phenomenal suggestions! Thank you so much!

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  16. These are awesome tips!  I'm still struggling with my daily scripture study; just haven't been consistent enough to say it's a habit yet.  I've decided that reading the Ensign, conference talks, and the Relief Society lessons are part of my scripture study, so if I don't get to the scriptures that day, at least I've done some GOSPEL study. 

    The Redheaded Hostess has been a great help, especially since once I get on a roll with something that she's posted I can usually keep it going on my own since I'm absorbed, or vested, or interested in it. 

    If I'm in need of something to study, I listen to Sacrament meeting talks and use one of the topics that was spoken about and look up supporting scriptures and talks to further study that topic. 

    Love the new look, and thanks for your post last week letting us know more about you!

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  17. What great ideas!  I haven't been the best at reading my scriptures, but I would really like to get into the habit so these are great suggestions for me!  Do you have any ideas about reading scriptures to little ones?  I have an 18 month old and I would love for him to gain a love for the scriptures very young.  Also, along a different note, do you have any good ideas for FHE for an 18 month old?  I would love to start doing it with him, but he is such a wild child and has no attention span.

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  18. You are wonderful.  Just had to tell you again.

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  19. How did I not know that I could listen to the scriptures on Itunes! Thank you so much! Excited to have it on as I clean our home now.

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