Several years ago my husband and I were busy with our academic studies, career, family, and Church responsibilities, but we had personal scripture study each day and family scripture study each night. Then at stake conference, our stake presidency challenged everyone to study the Book of Mormon a half hour each day. They emphasized five principles for meaningful scripture study:
Ask for help during prayer.
Search the scriptures carefully as you read.
Ponder what you have read and be sensitive to promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Write about significant insights you have received while studying the scriptures.
Express gratitude in prayer for the opportunity to read the scriptures.
Our stake president knew that our faith would be strengthened if we read the Book of Mormon daily. I realized that even with my daily scripture study, I was not “feast[ing] upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3). I knew this was something the Lord wanted me to do, so I set a personal goal to put the five principles into practice.
Our stake president was inspired by these words from President Marion G. Romney (1897–1988), former First Counselor in the First Presidency: “As I began to practice law, members of my family were a little uneasy. They were afraid I would lose my faith. I wanted to practice law, but I had an even greater desire to keep my testimony, and so I decided upon a little procedure which I recommend to you. For thirty minutes each morning before I began the day’s work I read from the Book of Mormon. … I know that it kept me in harmony … with the Spirit of the Lord. … It will hold us as close to the Spirit of the Lord as anything I know.”1
To be honest, some days I did not want to read the scriptures, but I still felt it was important to continue. As I tried to develop this habit, I was not always able to read each day. However, as I persevered, something significant happened. Instead of dreading the time of scripture study, I looked forward to the peace I felt. I found that I needed to read, ponder, and pray. When I began to enjoy scripture study, I also realized how many other aspects of my life were benefiting.
I began to understand what President Gordon B. Hinckley meant when he said: “I am grateful for the 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.”2
Through seriously studying the scriptures, I felt a peace settle into my heart. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) said of the Book of Mormon, “There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book.”3 In the beginning, when I was struggling with reading the Book of Mormon, I noticed that on the days I did not read, I was not at peace. I came to realize I needed the divine influence of this book in my life daily.
I always felt I was a good mother, but sometimes I would become angry with my children about trivial problems. As I started studying the scriptures more diligently, I noticed a remarkable difference in my actions. I became a better parent. Life’s everyday problems no longer bothered me so much. I was more loving toward my children. An abiding peace developed in our home that had not always been there before.
The scriptures have brought me an understanding of my role in Heavenly Father’s kingdom. I understand that my most important role is as a wife and a mother. My education taught me many things about how to understand people, but far more important, the scriptures taught me about the nature of humanity and our relationship to our Heavenly Father. I remember these words: “But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Nephi 9:29).
Part of my spiritual growth came from pondering scriptures that did not make sense to me. As I struggled with verses that were not immediately clear, I found myself thinking more about the scriptures during the day. Understanding came as I pondered and prayed for it. I know the Lord is willing to give us personal revelation about the scriptures and our lives as we approach Him in prayer.
Many times as I prayed about a particular problem, I was amazed when answers to my concerns came into my mind in the form of scriptures I had read or memorized. This is why scripture study is so vital in our lives.
One important benefit of reading the scriptures is the strength we may receive to overcome not only difficult long-term trials but also daily dilemmas. Whenever matters became difficult, I found that as I studied the scriptures and prayerfully pleaded for help, I would receive peace and an assurance that everything would “be but a small moment” (D&C 121:7) and we would be able to “bear up [our] burdens with ease” (Mosiah 24:15).
After accepting the challenge to study the scriptures, I realized why they should be at the center of our lives. They have the answers to so many of life’s questions and problems. I know that all of God’s children can experience the blessings of scripture study. It takes time, faith, and sacrifice, but the rewards far outweigh the effort. This pattern of study has changed my life.
“I suggest that you memorize scriptures that touch your heart and fill your soul with understanding. When scriptures are used as the Lord has caused them to be recorded, they have intrinsic power that is not communicated when paraphrased.”
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “He Lives,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 87–88.