We are all striving for daily scripture study, and sometimes it can be harder or easier than other times. The blessings of daily scripture study have no end, from guidance, happiness, and protection against the adversary in this life to the blessings of eternal life and becoming like our Savior.
Sometimes it can help to mix up your daily scripture study, especially when you might feel in a rut, just doing the same thing each day and plugging along cover to cover. By adding variety to your daily scripture study, you will find yourself getting more out of those precious moments you have to explore the scriptures.
1. Study all the scriptures from a single General Conference talk
Pick any General Conference (online or find a May or October Ensign laying around), select a talk, then actually look up each and every scripture cited as you study the talk. Give yourself permission to read more and wander around the scriptures instead of getting right back into the talk. Take in the full stories, lessons, and testimonies that go with each of the verses cited.
2. Pick a favorite verse, then go two levels deep with all footnotes
Start with a favorite verse (or find one from the list of Scripture Mastery scriptures), study and ponder it, and for each footnote, study and ponder those verses and do the same with that verse’s footnotes. You’re now two levels deep!
Tip: It may help to write down the first set of footnote references so you can get back to each of them after visiting each footnote of that verse.
3. Pick a favorite verse, then read all the citations
“Citations” is one of the most innovative and unique features of our app (LDS Scriptures App for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle, Nook, Mac, and PC). Open the app, go to a verse (for this example I will do 1 Nephi 3:5), and then tap the grey icon with the quotes and a number, located next to the verse number. This will open up a list of citations, other manuals and resources that “cite” this verse. Tapping on any of those will take you to that content where you can read what is being said about the verse you are reading. This is a great way to get “commentary” on a verse of scripture, find stories relating to it, and to just dig deeper into a verse in general. See the below images for reference:
4. Blank Book of Mormon, highlighting a word or topic
Elder Bruce R. McConkie has been known to use this method of studying the scriptures. He would get an inexpensive Book of Mormon without any markings in it, and then read through it cover to cover and underline with a red pencil a single word, phrase, or topic (like Jesus Christ or Faith). For a digital option, create a new account inside your LDS Scriptures App and use the highlight function to highlight (see screenshot below).
Tip: Pick a word that occurs often enough that you are actively looking for it in every verse or chapter, and mark any variation or form of that word.
5. Pick a favorite hymn and study the scripture references
Almost every hymn in the hymn book has a couple of scriptures to go along with it. Pick one of your favorite hymns, sing it, and then read the verses in the scriptures attached to the hymn.
6. Write a talk even though you aren’t speaking in Church
You don’t have to be called by a member of the Bishopric to write a talk or to prepare a lesson, just do one for fun! Pick a topic that you want to learn more about, and act like you’re giving a talk on Sunday. Work on it for your scripture study each day that week. Find inspirational stories and quotes to go along with it, and have it all ready to go. Who knows, it might just come in handy!
7. Pick 3 people you know and find a scripture for each of them
Think of 3 people you know that could benefit from a scripture and words of encouragement from you. Find each of them a scripture that you think they would benefit from, then tell it to them or send it to them by email or text. You will be amazed at the blessings and experiences that can come from doing something as simple as this, for both you and them.
8. Read the Book of Mormon chronologically (instead of cover to cover)
Using this link to the Book of Mormon Chronology Chart, you can read the Book of Mormon chronologically instead of cover to cover. The links don’t cover the entire Book of Mormon, but it’s a great way to go through The Book of Mormon based on the timing of the actual events. You will start off in Ether and then of course finish up in Moroni.
9. Pick a person in the Scriptures and do a mini Biography report on them
Remember doing a biography on famous people like George Washington or Rosa Parks when you were younger? Time for a new assignment! Pick someone in the scriptures for your biography, and find out as much as you can about them. Break it up into sections on different aspects of their life (where were they from, who were their parents, what was life like, etc.), answer questions people might commonly ask about them, and include famous quotes (or verses!) from them.
10. Visit Mormon.org and study Values, Beliefs, and FAQ
The website Mormon.org is different from LDS.org in that it is geared towards non-members. But that doesn’t mean you can’t read it too! The sections on Values, Beliefs, and FAQ are filled with interesting narratives, verses of scripture, questions and answers, and videos on various topics. Study the verses referenced in the content as you go along.
11. Write a journal entry, blog post, or social media post about your scripture study
Writing is therapeutic, and also is a great teacher. Turn your scripture study into a writing session by writing a journal entry, a blog post, or a social media post (Facebook or Google+ let you write the longest). Choose a title, open with something to draw in a reader, and dig into what came out of your scripture study.
12. Use Preach My Gospel to guide your study
One of the greatest scriptural resources the Church has created is Preach My Gospel. While it was primarily designed for missionaries, Preach My Gospel is an excellent source of doctrine and scriptures. Pick a lesson and study with your scriptures in hand, reading the full context of the referenced verses.
One of my favorite things to look for when I’m studying the Scriptures is what I call “One Verse Sermons”. To me they are spiritual treasure, because they have so much worth packed in one little verse. Most verses that we highlight or mark are ones that teach us a specific truth or principle. What differentiates these types of verses for me is the verse contains so much doctrine and principles in one verse that an entire long-winded sermon could be preached just using the content of that verse.
I’ve discovered many of these over the years, but I wanted to share just a few with you to help you begin your own journey on unearthing your own “One Verse Sermons”. Within our app I created a Tag named “One Verse Sermons” and when I find one I will tag it so I can always come back to it when I go to my list of Tags.
What “One Verse Sermons” can you find? Share below in the comments!
1 Nephi 15:11
“Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said? — If ye will not haven your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.”
“Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”
“And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.”
Every job has a set of essential tools that enable you to do your job every day. A plumber needs a wrench and plumber’s tape. A software engineer needs a computer and desk. A doctor needs a stethoscope and a sphygmomanometer. In life, just like a job, each of us need to bring along with us each day a few essential tools to keep us on the path that leads us back safely to our Father in Heaven. These essential tools include prayer, scripture study, and covenants, and each of these should be on our “tool belt” every day of our lives.
The counsel is clear to each of us, we need to do more than casually read from the scriptures. In fact, the Prophets have counseled us to study from the Scriptures every single day. With that counsel also comes promises of blessings if we obey (D&C 82:10), and the benefits of daily scripture study will not only help us to attain our Eternal goals, but will enrich our lives every day.
#1 – Power of the Spirit
“Let us not treat lightly the great things we have received from the hand of the Lord! His word is one of the most valuable gifts He has given us. I urge you to recommit yourselves to a study of the scriptures. Immerse yourselves in them daily so you will have the power of the Spirit to attend you in your callings. Read them in your families and teach your children to love and treasure them” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 82).
#2 – Ability to Love Others More
“I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns. I find myself loving more intensely those whom I must love with all my heart and mind and strength, and loving them more, I find it easier to abide their counsel” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 135).
#3 – Increased Desire to Do What is Right
“I think that people who study the scriptures get a dimension to their life that nobody else gets and that can’t be gained in any way except by studying the scriptures. There’s an increase in faith and a desire to do what’s right and a feeling of inspiration and understanding that comes to people who study the gospel—meaning particularly the Standard Works—and who ponder the principles, that can’t come in any other way” (Bruce R. McConkie, in Church News, 24 Jan. 1976, 4).
#4 – Stronger Defense Against the Adversary
“I challenge every Latter-day Saint to come to a knowledge and an understanding of the scriptures. These sacred books are our bulwark of defense against a cunning adversary” (Marvin J. Ashton, in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, 110; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, 73).
“There is a power in the book [of Mormon] which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of [it.] You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’ (see D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance (President Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7).
#5 – Protect our Families
“I promise you that daily family prayer and scripture study will build within the walls of your home a security and bonding that will enrich your lives and prepare your families to meet the challenges of today and the eternities to come” (L. Tom Perry, in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 113; or Ensign, May 1993, 92).
#6 – Minds will be Enlightened
“I am grateful for emphasis on reading the scriptures. I hope that for you this will become something far more enjoyable than a duty; that, rather, it will become a love affair with the word of God. I promise you that as you read, your minds will be enlightened and your spirits will be lifted. At first it may seem tedious, but that will change into a wondrous experience with thoughts and words of things divine” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Light within You,” Ensign, May 1995, 99).
“Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high. They can become the key to open the channel to communion with our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “The Power of Scripture”, October 2011 General Conference).
#7 – Prayers will be Answered
“Search the scriptures—search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation. No; for when men receive their instruction from Him that made them, they know how He will save them” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 11–12).
#8 – Increased Success and Alertness
“As I think about your schedules and the pressures you face at this time in your lives, I can understand why scripture study can so easily be neglected. You have many demands pulling at you. In some cases, just maintaining your social life is a full-time occupation. But I plead with you to make time for immersing yourselves in the scriptures. Couple scripture study with your prayers. Half an hour each morning privately studying, pondering, and communicating with your Heavenly Father can make an amazing difference in your lives. It will give increased success in your daily activities. It will bring increased alertness to your minds. It will give you comfort and rock-steady assurance when the storms of life descend upon you” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Be Strong in the Lord, and in the Power of His Might”).
Don’t you just love General Conference? I do! In particular I always take note of the talks that mention Scripture Study, so I have gathered them all here in one place, just for you!
I’ll give you my favorite first, and it’s even from President Monson:
“Throughout our lives we will need to nurture strong testimonies by studying the scriptures and by praying and by pondering the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When firmly planted, our testimonies of the gospel, of the Savior, and of our Heavenly Father will influence all that we do.” – President Monson
Then in no particular order, here are the other mentions of Scripture study from October 2015 General Conference:
“Many in today’s world are looking for instant gratification and instant knowledge on the Internet. In contrast, we will be exceedingly blessed if we exercise faith and patience and go to our Heavenly Father, the source of all truth, with our concerns. So many answers and assurances can come through daily searching and studying the scriptures and with sincere and pleading prayer, but there are no such promises on the Internet.” – Sister Reeves
“One of the purposes of the scriptures is to show us how righteous people respond to temptation and evil. In short, they avoid it! Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife. Lehi took his family and left Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph fled into Egypt to escape Herod’s wicked plot. In every instance, Heavenly Father warned these believers. Similarly, He will help us know whether to fight, flee, or go with the flow of our unfolding circumstances. He will speak to us through prayer, and when we pray, we will have the Holy Ghost, who will guide us. We have the scriptures, the teachings of living prophets, patriarchal blessings, the counsel of inspired parents, priesthood and auxiliary leaders, and, above all, the still, small voice of the Spirit.” – Elder Hales
“We will all face trials and have questions, but remember that we must be ‘continually holding fast to the rod of iron.’ ‘The words of Christ will tell [us] all things what [we] should do.’ We must make scripture study a daily part of our lives, as this will open doors of revelation.”- Elder Martino
“These personal religious habits–obedience, scripture study, prayer, and fasting–strengthened the sons of Mosiah. The lack of these same personal religious habits was a major reason that Laman and Lemuel were left vulnerable to the temptation to murmur and doubt.”- Elder Martino
“My questions led to increased faith. For me, the answer came not as an event but as a process. I noticed that as I did “experiment upon [the] words” and began to “exercise a particle of faith,” the Book of Mormon became “delicious to me” and it did “enlighten my understanding” and truly did “enlarge my soul.” Eventually I had that experience the scriptures describe as a swelling within your breast. It was at this point that I desired to be baptized and to commit my life to Jesus Christ.” – Elder Martino
“In addition to having a habit of prayer, he knew the scriptures and the words of living prophets. So he recognized the familiar whisperings of the Spirit, which you may have felt today.” – President Eyring, in speaking of his own father
“I promise you will not regret writing a verse of scripture on your mind and heart each week. You will experience a feeling of perpetual spiritual purpose, protection, and power.” – Brother Durrant
“Several other verses use the phrase ‘It is written’ and similar expressions demonstrating familiarity with the scriptures.) Can we not safely say that Jesus spent at least 20 years studying and pondering the scriptures as part of His mission preparation? Is there something you need to be doing today to prepare yourself spiritually for future opportunities to teach and bless your family and others?” – Brother Durrant