Do you ever feel like you have a difficult time getting the most out of your scripture study? It’s one thing to read them, but to REALLY study them is another. Here are a couple ways that I’ve found to help increase the effectiveness out of my scripture study.
1) Pray for the Spirit
The scriptures were originally written by inspiration and revelation. So why not use the same technique to get the most out of your study? Start your study with a kneeling prayer, and ask your Father in Heaven to help you focus while reading. In addition, ask for the ability to find something new that you didn’t know before. When you ask God humbly to help you study, the difference is miraculous.
You’d be amazed at the things you can learn just from the environment that you’re in, and it’s different for every person. Instead of trying to study while in a room with lots of people and noise, try secluding yourself a little bit more. Go off to a place where you can be by yourself, think, and really feel the promptings of the Spirit helping you. Or perhaps going outside or to a park where you can be uninterrupted.
3) Look for patterns
In scripture, the authors and prophets often repeat themselves to emphasize a point. If we can notice these patterns, there is usually something special that we can learn from it.
Take 1 Nephi 11, for example. As the angel is speaking to Nephi and recounting the dream which his Father, Lehi, had, the angel uses some form of the word “Look!” more than 14 times throughout the Chapter.
Or another example, in Helaman 5. The word “remember” is used 15 times (that I counted). Do you think that if Helaman, their father, used this word that many times, that he would want us to “remember” something?
There are patterns all throughout scripture. By recognizing these repetitions, we can find something that we may not have noticed before.
4) Search for Personal Application
In 1 Nephi 19:23, he tells us to “liken all scripture unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” Although written hundreds (or thousands) of years ago, the scriptures were written for our day and age. We might not be asked to sacrifice our only son (Genesis 22), but we can still be put in tough circumstances and asked to do difficult things. By reading from the lives of others, we can learn from their examples, whether good or bad.
The hard part is actually applying it. However, the more practice we place into taking what we learn from the scriptures and setting it into our own lives, the easier it becomes. The Spirit will speak to us and tell us which things we need to change in our own lives and what we can learn from scripture.
5) Look for Lists
Verses of scripture, or entire chapters, will often include a list of things that we should do. As you begin looking for them, you’ll notice them more frequently. Yet another example from 1 Nephi 11, we find to rubric to receiving answers from the Spirit. He gives us a list of thins to do:
A. “Desired to know” (v.1)
B. “Sat pondering” (v.1)
C. “Exceedingly high mountain” (environment) (v.1)
D. “Believe all the words” (v.5)
Could this list possibly help us with receiving personal answers from God? Absolutely! The scriptures are FULL of lists and rubrics for us to follow. Once you find a list, write out the steps one by one, and see if you can’t follow them and apply them to your own life.
6) Use maps
Many scriptures have maps already built-in to the back of the Book. The version of the Bible that I use already includes 14 maps. By understanding distances, climate, and other landmarks, we can gain more of a feel for the stories related to us.
For example, after Jesus Christ had been born in Bethlehem, an angel comes to Joseph and tells him to take Mary and their new Son to Egypt to escape the slaughter by King Herod. If we don’t have maps, it makes that journey seem rather simple. But by measuring distances on a map, we find that from Bethlehem to Egypt could have been somewhere in the range of 225 miles! That’s a long distance to travel with an infant, and by camel. How does knowing this information change the meaning of that story?
7) Look for Commandments and Blessings
The majority of the time in the scriptures, whenever a commandment is given, quickly following it is the blessings that will come from doing so. Take these for example:
A. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).
B. “If ye walk in my statues, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit” (Leviticus 26:3-4).
C. “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I hahve kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10).
D. “Honour they father and mother; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2).
One thing that you may consider doing is use two colored pencils or other form of marking. Mark the commandment in one color, and then mark the blessing that follows it in a different color.
As we’re willing to humble ourselves and to truly do the things which the Lord has asked of us, such as study, pray, and really ponder these things, then His spirit can be with us more fully and “teach us all things” (John 14:26).