The scriptures say that we should search them diligently, but what does that mean? I read them every night, but what should I be searching for?
In speaking of the scriptures, the Lord declared, “These words are not of men nor of man, but of me. … It is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you … ; wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words” (D&C 18:34–36).
As you listen to the Lord’s voice—his Spirit—understanding about gospel principles and how they apply to your life can flow into your heart and mind. In fact, one of the reasons you have the scriptures is so you can “feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:3). As one who has been baptized and given the gift of the Holy Ghost, you can receive personal guidance as you study the scriptures and pray for inspiration (see 2 Ne. 32:4–5).
There are many things you can search for in the scriptures, and many reasons for your searching. At times, you may look for information about certain gospel subjects. Other times you may want to feel the Spirit and receive reassurance through the words of the scriptures. Sometimes you will look simply for whatever the Lord wants to reveal to you at that moment. And of course you can always look to the scriptures to learn more about our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Here are a few suggestions for making your searches more effective:
Apply the scriptures to yourself. Like Nephi, we can “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Ne. 19:23). For example, you could insert your name into verses where the pronoun you is found, as in 3 Nephi 18:15 [3 Ne. 18:15]: “Verily, verily, I say unto you [insert your name], ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him.”
Study the scriptures regularly. If you develop the habit of studying the scriptures regularly, you are more likely to receive guidance from the scriptures when you need it. Use whatever study resources your scriptures offer—such as indexes, footnotes, dictionaries, maps, and cross-references—to guide you to the information you seek.
Study general conference talks. Look for ways the prophet and other General Authorities have used or explained scriptures to help increase your understanding.
Read the Church magazines. The Church magazines contain insights that can enrich your gospel study. Read them regularly, and when something you read touches your heart or enlightens your mind, open the scriptures and search for more information about what you just read.
Learn from others. Your parents, Church leaders, seminary teachers, home teachers, Sunday School teachers, and other ward members may have special insights into the scriptures. Perhaps they have learned valuable lessons as they have tried to apply in their own lives the principles the scriptures teach. Ask them to share those insights and lessons with you.
The scriptures are inspired by God. Studying the scriptures is one way for you to receive your own inspiration and find answers to your questions or guidance about your problems. When you are most concerned about receiving inspiration, that may be when the scriptures can best speak to you personally.
We are promised that if we search the scriptures diligently, the mysteries of God will be unfolded unto us (see 1 Ne. 10:19). Therefore, we should understand that our objective in searching the scriptures is to know the truth. We should not only read them, but we should ponder and pray about them so that we might gain a testimony of their truthfulness.
Elder David H. Kioa, Tonga Nuku‘alofa Mission
Our Sunday School class of 12- to 14-year-olds likened searching the scriptures to the police searching a house. As the police enter the house to search for evidence, we “enter” the scriptures to search for evidence that Jesus is the Christ. We look for knowledge that can strengthen our faith and deepen our testimonies. We read about interesting people and events that can help us to progress. We find solutions to problems and answers to questions, both about the gospel and about our lives.
When we read the scriptures, we learn more about our Heavenly Father and the Savior and what we can do to become more like them. We have learned that every verse in the scriptures is put there for a reason and that we can always learn something that applies to ourselves.
Youth Sunday School class, Boraes Ward, Göteborg Sweden Stake
Whenever I face problems in my daily life, I turn to the scriptures for solutions and for solace. The scriptures are of great help to me when I put the lessons I learn from them into practice. That is how I progress spiritually day to day.
Alexia Houchard, 20, Noumea First Branch, New Caledonia District
By diligently searching the scriptures, we can replace our faith with a certain knowledge of the truth. This knowledge will increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ.
Stella Tehoiri, Mataura Branch, Tubai Australes District
While receiving the missionary discussions, I had many doubts about the Book of Mormon. But after diligently searching and meditating for a long time, remembering the promise made in Moroni 10:3–5 [Moro. 10:3–5], I felt my spirit awaken, and I knew that the Book of Mormon was true.
I am so happy today to testify of this truth as a full-time missionary.
Elder Mbongompasi, Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission
We know that by studying the scriptures we gain a knowledge and a testimony of the gospel. But I have found that to retain that knowledge in my mind and heart I need to pray for help to understand what I am studying. I have also developed some techniques that might help others.
First, I identify the people referred to in the scripture I’m studying—who is speaking to whom—and the subject involved.
Second, I define the words and phrases. Words used in translating the Bible may not have exactly the same meaning they do today. A dictionary can be very helpful.
Third, I concentrate on the sequence of events. For example, in Alma 32, gaining a testimony of the gospel is compared to the planting and nourishing of a seed. Recognizing the sequence of events Alma outlines helped me understand the concept being taught.
Fourth, I like to personalize the scriptures by substituting my name for the person being addressed.
My testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ increases when I search the scriptures in prayer and with dedication. The knowledge I gain is a source of great blessings.
Neuma Celene Saraiva Lima, 28, Messejana Ward, Fortaleza Brazil Stake
To search the scriptures diligently means to “feast” on the scriptures, to meditate upon them and to ponder them. More precisely, you must read and study them, and then apply the lessons and principles you learn. It is also necessary to pray for a testimony of the scriptures and for the answers you seek.
Charles Rambolarson, Antananarivo First Branch, Antananarivo Madagascar District
We increase in faith as we search the scriptures and read the prophets’ testimonies of the Savior and of the plan of salvation. If we read the scriptures daily with a true intent to get closer to the Lord, we are promised great blessings. Jacob 4:6 says of those who search the scriptures: “We have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken.” Searching the scriptures and incorporating their principles in our lives help us escape Satan’s grasp. In short, searching the scriptures is one of the most effective ways to experience a true change of heart.
Denis Omar Vargas Canahui, San Cristóbal Totonicapan Branch, Quetzaltenango Guatemala El Bosque Stake
I use the knowledge I have gained in searching the scriptures to help solve everyday problems. In so doing, I feel closer to my Heavenly Father and to the Savior, and that helps me be a better person.
Frederick C. Busania, Diffun Branch, Santiago Philippines District
The scriptures are among the most precious gifts I have because they are true, and my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ grows every time I read them. They are like a compass to me. They help me understand where I am going in my life and what I can do to improve. There is power in the words of the Lord; there is counsel; there is love; there is truth. We must ask for the guidance of the Spirit to better understand these gifts.
Francesca Raimondo, 23, Novara Branch, Vercelli Italy District
When I need to talk with my Heavenly Father, I lift up my voice in prayer. But when I want to hear his voice, I read the Book of Mormon or one of the other standard works. I try to imagine myself as one of the individuals I am reading about, and I try to share their experiences. I give all my attention to listening to the voice of the Lord.
Javier Alejandro Coronati, Belle Ville Branch, Belle Ville Argentina District
The principle objective of the scriptures is to bring truth, spiritual peace, and happiness into our lives. A superficial reading of the scriptures can lead to confusion and error. But if you pray before you read the scriptures, you will find that the Holy Ghost will guide you.
Lynda Andriamisamalala, 24, Antananarivo First Branch, Antananarivo Madagascar District
As a missionary, I always urge others to read the Book of Mormon, ponder its teachings, and ask the Lord if its message is true. One day, while reading Alma 17:2–3, I learned how the sons of Mosiah were able to act with the power and authority of God after “search[ing] the scriptures diligently.” From that moment on, my life changed. I became more diligent in searching the scriptures, and this has strengthened my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Elder Leonidas Macias Izquierdo, Ecuador Quito Mission
I wasn’t too pleased when my mother gave me a set of the standard works as a high school graduation gift. However, I came to realize how important the scriptures were in my life when I began to search them diligently. I came to admire the poetic verses in Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes; the faith of Abraham intrigued me; and I marveled at the eloquence of Isaiah as he prophesied of the coming of the Messiah.
I discovered that there are lots of things to search for in the scriptures to help us improve our lives.
Abegail S. Diezon, Calape Branch, Calape Philippines District
As we read each verse, we need to consider why it was written. As we do this, we will gain more knowledge.
Prayers before and after studying are important, as is using appropriate support materials. I have found that reading the scriptures as they are punctuated is important, too.
Giovanni Ziliotto, Taguatinga Second Ward, Brasilia Brazil Taguatinga Stake
Our Heavenly Father wants us to study the scriptures every day. When we do so, we will experience the joy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Anthony L. Silberie, Rotterdam Second Ward, Rotterdam Netherlands Stake
I believe that what we should search for in the scriptures is the strength to put into practice the gospel of Jesus Christ. D&C 98:12 tells us that the faithful will gain “line upon line, precept upon precept,” but we must do our part. We must first “study it out” in our minds and ask “if it be right,” and then the truth will be manifested to us (D&C 9:8).
Sister Angela Vargas, 21, Italy Rome Mission