It wasn’t until recently that I really unlocked how scripture study could bring me an added sense of peace in my life. Sure, I read my scriptures, and got little nuggets from them, but I didn’t feel truly immersed in them. I didn’t walk away with as much of the added peace that I do now. I began to practice a scripture study method that has completely changed how I study & my relationship with my Father in Heaven.
My Scripture Study system is so incredibly simple. Let me show you how it goes:
I begin by listing 3 things that I’m grateful for each day. Henry B Eyring once stated that each day he would sit down and answer this question:
“Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?”
Sometimes my frazzled sleep-deprived-Mom-brain struggles with coming up with something big for this—so sometimes you’ll see big stuff, other times you’ll see me saying things like “Having the energy to mop the floors” #thestruggleisreal
Henry B Eyring observed that “More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers.” That calm reassurance that Heavenly Father answers my prayers sets the perfect tone for my scripture study because I know I’ll get an answer to the questions of my heart. The answers may not be immediate, but I will say, every scripture study session I’ve had I’ve had some kind of answer, whether it be the entire answer to my question or a fragment of the answer.
Once I’ve written down what I’m grateful for, I then take a moment to say a prayer of gratitude for that. I also pray about what’s going on in my life & then close off my prayer by asking for help and guidance on a question that’s on my heart. If I don’t have a question, I pray for one.
Honestly, while I say “close off” here, the prayer isn’t really closed. Throughout the entire scripture study I have that prayer in my heart. I’m diligently seeking the answer to that question, relying on the help of my Father in Heaven.
I take my question of the day and write it in my journal. I find that this is key. It keeps me focused. The questions can be anything from super deep stuff to stuff that seems silly to even ask about. Here are some of my questions I’ve asked:
- How can I be better at doing things I don’t feel like doing? (AKA Dishes!)
- What should I do about my blog? What direction should it go?
- What should get my BIG focus right now?
- How can I better handle how annoyed at my husband I am right now? (<–just keeping it real with y’all! Those moments happen!)
- What should I prioritize first in the morning: cleaning the home or getting my business work done?
- What are ways I can teach the gospel better in my home?
- What do I need to do in order to prepare to go to the temple next?
- Am I balancing life ok?
- How can I be more consistent and reliable?
- What should be my focus today?
- How can I be better equipped to withstand the temptations to impulse buy and eat out?
- What can I do to decrease the bickering in our home?
This question lays the foundation for my entire scripture study. It attaches more meaning to the words I read; it pulls me away from just passively reading a text to more actively reading and seeking an answer. It keeps that prayer in my heart and narrows my focus more.
I think it also adds a tremendous amount of depth to scripture study. Think about it–you’ve probably read one verse several different times in your life, but have pulled away different impressions based on whatever your current situation might be. I think we often experience this on a large-scale. Let’s say for instance we are going through a trial. The following verse from John would obviously be far more impactful at that tumultuous time in your life:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” —John 14:27
Let’s say, for instance, you are experience serious financial trouble and are afraid of what’s going to happen–that verse is probably going to carry a completely different meaning for you than if no trials were currently going on. Sure, you might find the verse nice and comforting, but your overall impressions will often vary depending upon where you are at in life at that time.
Now that’s looking at big life experiences that cause a different perspective, but what about experiencing this on a small scale? What if we approach the scriptures not just with the large-scale issues in our hearts, but with the small-scale issues too? I’m going to give an excellent example of this later in this post when I share about how my lack of desire to do the dishes helped me see a scripture passage in a completely different light! Who knew doing the dishes could ever lead to deep spiritual thinking?
Reading & Writing
Next is the reading—I begin my scripture study. As I read, I continue to have that question & prayer in my heart. When I read, I record my thoughts about every verse or thought that sticks out to me, even if I find it’s completely unrelated to my question
Writing it down is the crucial part. Sure, it slows the scripture study down, but I find that the process of getting my thoughts out on paper is really important. I actually researched this quite a lot as I got my PhD, one of my areas of focus is in a field called Writing Across the Curriculum, and one of the dominant theories in the field is that writing is a mode of learning. Many fields use writing as a way to help students get out their thoughts and learn through that process. By articulating why a verse stood out to me, it helps me formulate my thoughts on it. I also find that it is amazing for reflection—have you ever gotten an answer to a prayer, but completely forgot about it? By writing it down, you are able to go back to those answers and have a gentle reminder to live accordingly.
I wanted to walk you through an example to show you how amazing it looks when all of these seemingly unrelated verses connect together to answer my particular question for that day:
One day I started my study with How can I be better about doing the things I don’t feel like doing?
Don’t we all feel like that from time to time!?! At this point, the dishes were stacking up, laundry was piling high, and my kids were human tornados constantly destroying a room immediately after I left it. I was exhausted and frustrated.
Recording Whatever Stands Out, Even if it Feels Unrelated
As I went about this scripture study, unique verses stood out to me that didn’t really seem related to my topic, but I just couldn’t resist looking up those cross references. What I found surprised me: those seemingly random verses ended up coming together beautifully to form a powerful answer to my question.
On that day, a verse stood out to me:
“And thus my father had fulfilled all the commandments of the Lord which had been given unto him.” – 1 Nephi 16:8
This puzzled me because it was right after Nephi talked about how he and his brothers married the daughters of Ishmael and I wanted to review the commandment to Lehi about being commanded to have his kids marry Ishmael’s. But instead, the cross references took me to the different actions Lehi was commanded to do. He fled out of the land, obtained brass plates, & got Ishmael and his family to have them join his family in leaving Jerusalem.
Connecting to My Situation & My Question
When looking at these things, we see Lehi did them because he was commanded to. That was his motive. It made me think of how he had this big picture “why” behind what he did. I often teach my team of fitness coaches about how having a “why” can help them do the daily tasks that can feel pretty mundane. What if I have more of a big picture attitude toward a clean house? What if my “WHY” isn’t just so the house is clean, but is because I have been commanded to have my home be an orderly place and being obedient blesses my life and the life of my family? What if I recall that the home is to be one of the most sacred places on earth? What if I thought about how I can create an orderly, peaceful environment that my family can THRIVE in? That bigger WHY can help fuel me to do those daily, mundane tasks.
Going Deeper With Definitions
Next, I came across the verses describing the Liahona—basically this was an ancient form of a compass and it worked “according to the diligence and heed” that they followed it. I looked up diligence and found it is much about consistently doing the daily things over time. By following the Liahona and being obedient, Nephi and his family received further instruction (the Liahona didn’t just tell them where to go, but it actually had writings appear on it about the ways of the Lord. See 1 Nephi 16:29). Doing these small, mundane things has yet another powerful benefit–it opens up the door for me to be guided to MORE things. Don’t I want to learn more? To unlock more mysteries?
When Things Start to Get Real
About 2/3 of the way in is when things get real! The floodgates open and verse after verse seems so powerful to me. For example, another verse came up which even further solidifies how beautifully and powerfully the Spirit uses the scriptures to answer my questions on daily living:
“And thus we see that by small means the Lord can being about Great things” 1 Nephi 16:29
Doing these small, mundane things even when (and especially when) I don’t want to do them can bring about greater things in my life.
Next another verse came up:
“And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God, that he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he had commanded them” 1 Nephi 17:3
As I obey and do what I’m commanded to do, I will receive strength. Notice the strength doesn’t come first! The strength will come after my obedience. Then another promise of strength:
“If God commanded me to do all things I could do them” 1 Nephi 17:50
He’s not going to ask me to do something I can’t do. It might require me praying for his strength, but nevertheless, I can do it.
I show just brief sentences here, but my journal was filled with paragraphs of me reflecting on this! This was powerful and pierced my heart, in a good way!
End with the Question
At the end of my study, I re-write my question. At this point, I often feel like every verse in my scripture study was completely unrelated—sometimes I feel like the observations had nothing to do with my question, but they still felt powerful. This reflective process of reviewing my question and reviewing my insights for the day has opened my eyes to some powerful answers that I receive in my scripture study.
Let’s look again at my example. I shared with you above my scripture study of how to be better about doing things I don’t feel like doing. So here’s how I closed off my entry for the day:
“Question of the day: How can I be better about doing the things I don’t feel like doing?”
I can look at the BIG picture: I’m being obedient to my Father in Heaven. I do it because I love Him and want to do what He wants me to do because I trust that it’s also what is best for me. I also pray for strength–with the full understanding that He won’t command me to do something that is impossible for me to do. It’s time that I now more fully put every aspect of my life in His hands, with full faith that He will direct me on the path that is best for me.”
Isn’t that powerful? It at least is to me—because that’s the question of my heart and it was answered for me so beautifully.
You may not feel that same power yourself reading my impressions, simply because you may have a different answer or might be in a different place. Or you might find that the Spirit speaks to you differently based on what works best for you. But I want to encourage you to try this method, you might be surprised at how you are led to some powerful answers that can give you an amazing sense of peace in your life.
I’d love to hear—what do you do for your Scripture Study? Do you have any methods that have worked for you?