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Tips for Effective Scripture Study

by Lisa M. Grover Editorial Associate

Scripture study is a great way to unlock the blessings of knowledge and faith in our lives. The most important thing to remember when you study the scriptures is to listen to the Spirit and do your best. If circumstances aren’t ideal, don’t let that stop you! With that in mind, consider these tips that may enhance the time you spend with the scriptures and even make that time the most enjoyable part of your day.

Getting Started:

  • Make a commitment to start studying the scriptures. Write your commitment on a piece of paper, and post it somewhere where you will see it often.

  • If you don’t have scriptures of your own, set a goal to get them. Maybe you could ask for scriptures as a birthday or Christmas gift, or work to earn the money to buy them. In the meantime, borrow scriptures from your ward library, or a friend or relative.

  • Keep a pencil handy while you are studying. Write your observations about the scriptures you are reading neatly in the margins of your scriptures, or in a notebook.

  • Try to find a quiet place where you can study at the same time every day. Your situation may not be ideal, but do what you can to make the best of it.

  • If you have trouble staying consistent at first, don’t get discouraged and quit! Be patient. Once you get in the habit, it gets easier to study every day.

  • Start where you are. If you can only concentrate on scriptures for a few minutes, start with that and work your way up.

  • Study when it is best for you. Some people like to get up early and start with scripture reading; others prefer to do it before bed. The important thing is to find a time when you will be able to study EVERY DAY.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others. People read at different speeds and in their own way.

For Better Understanding:

  • Pray for help.

  • Participate in seminary. Make a goal to finish all four years.

  • Read books by General Authorities and others on what the scriptures mean. But remember, these books are not a substitute for the scriptures!

  • Read the chapter summary at the beginning of each chapter. It helps to stay focused on what you’re reading if you have a general idea of what’s going to happen.

  • After you understand a difficult concept, teach it to someone else. That helps them learn, and it helps you remember.

  • Read scripture stories with younger brothers and sisters.

  • Participate in family home evening. You might even offer to help teach the lessons once in a while.

  • Use the tools in the scriptures themselves, such as the Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, footnotes, Joseph Smith Translation, and maps.

After You’ve Mastered the Basics:

  • Keep a scripture journal. Write down thoughts and ideas you have on each chapter or set of chapters you read.

  • Look for patterns in the scriptures. You may want to buy an inexpensive copy of the scriptures and highlight every mention of the pattern you are following. For instance, you might want to highlight every reference to the Savior’s life or every reference about service.

  • Focus on a specific topic, and cross-reference scriptures on that topic. Look at how scriptures in the Bible relate to scriptures in the Book of Mormon.

  • Read several scriptures on any given commandment. Read conference talks by General Authorities on the same commandment and find similarities.

  • Once you have gained a testimony of the scriptures, write it in the front of a Book of Mormon and share it with a friend.

Words from the Wise

Need some motivational thoughts to help you study? These thoughts on the scriptures by some great prophets may help:

“When I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine voice is speaking, … I immerse myself in the scriptures [and] the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.”

—Elder Spencer W. Kimball (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 135)

“My soul delighteth in the scriptures.”

—Nephi (2 Ne. 4:15)

“There is nothing more helpful than prayer to open our understanding of the scriptures. Through prayer we can attune our minds to seek the answers to our searchings.”

—Elder Howard W. Hunter (Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 64)

Forbidden Food

During Moses’ time, the people were commanded to avoid certain foods (see Lev. 11). With the coming of Christ the law was fulfilled. Today, modern inventions like refrigeration and controlled feeding programs have reduced concern about some foods. And, of course, we have the Word of Wisdom to guide us. But here are a few of the things the Children of Israel were told to avoid in their day:

Camel

Eagle

Weasel

Swan

Heron

Raven

Hare

Hawk

Mouse

Pelican

Bat

Owl

Swine

Vulture

Tortoise

Stork

 

Ferret

(Taken from Mormon Book of Lists, by Jay A. Parry and Larry E. Morris, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987.)

Scripture Potpourri

Women have always made an important contribution to the societies they have lived in and a number are familiar to you from the Bible—Eve, Mary, Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Following are some women from the Bible that you may not be as familiar with:

Miriam—sister of Moses and Aaron, helped to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. (See Ex. 15:20.)

Deborah—the fourth judge in Israel, directed by the Lord to know when to go into battle, helped free her people from subjugation by a foreign king. (See Judg. 5:7; Judg. 4:4.)

Huldah—lived in the time of the righteous King Josiah. She prophesied destruction to the wicked people of the time, and prosperity to the righteous king. (See 2 Kgs. 22:14–20.)

Anna—an 84-year-old widow present when Jesus was taken to the temple as a baby. She gave thanks when she recognized the Savior. (See Luke 2: 36–38.)

(Taken from Mormon Book of Lists, by Jay A. Parry and Larry E. Morris, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987.)

By Mine Own Voice, or the Voice of My Servants …

Did you know that the Book of Mormon is published in 38 languages, and selections from the Book of Mormon are published in an additional 48 languages? The first language to be translated from the reformed Egyptian that the plates were written in was, of course, English. The most recent full edition of the Book of Mormon was translated in 1994 in Hungarian. The title of the Book of Mormon is given here in several different languages:

Hungarian

Mormon Könyve

Greek

Greek writing

Vietnamese

Sách Mac Môn

Icelandic

Mormónsbók

Fijian

Al Vola I Momani

Dutch

Het Boek Van Mormon

Polish

Ksiega Mormona

Russian

Russian writing

French

Le Livre de Mormon

German

Das Buch Mormon

Spanish

El Libro de Mormón

Hawaiian

Ka Buka a Moramona

Japanese

Japanese writing

Portuguese

O Livro de Mórmon

“For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ” (D&C 90:11).

Sibling Rivalry

Do you sometimes find it difficult to keep the peace with your brothers and sisters? It’s important to learn to get along. Consider these famous brothers from the scriptures:

Cain and Abel: Cain was jealous of Abel’s favor with the Lord. Rather than repenting, Cain murdered his brother and came under condemnation. (See Gen. 4.)

Ishmael and Isaac: Since Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was unable to have children, Ishmael was the son of one of Abraham’s concubines. When Sarah finally did have a son (when she was 99), Ishmael and his mother were left to wander in the wilderness. However, they were protected by the Lord. (See Gen. 21.)

Nephi, Laman, and Lemuel: As Nephi was obedient to the Lord, Laman and Lemuel were often selfish and rebellious. Remember, Nephi was always forgiving and tried to set a good example. (See 1 Ne.)

(Taken from Mormon Book of Lists, by Jay A. Parry and Larry E. Morris, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987.)

Famous “Firsts” in the Scriptures

by John A. Tvedtnes

From the scriptural record we have at present, who was the first—

  1. 1.

    Murderer?

  2. 2.

    Tithe payer?

  3. 3.

    To offer sacrifice?

  4. 4.

    King of Israel?

  5. 5.

    King of Judah?

  6. 6.

    To rise from the dead?

  7. 7.

    Woman ruler?

  8. 8.

    To see Jesus after his resurrection?

  9. 9.

    Apostle to die?

  10. 10.

    Missionary?

  11. 11.

    Farmer?

  12. 12.

    Shepherd?

Answers:

Friends in Deed

Friends were just as important in the days of the scriptures as they are now. Here are some examples of friends who stayed together through thick and thin.

Jonathan and David: These two friends loved each other so much, they made a covenant to always be friends. Jonathan saved David’s life by telling him of King Saul’s plan to kill him. (See 1 Sam. 18–20.)

Naomi and Ruth: After losing her husband and both her sons, Naomi needed a true friend. Her daughter-in-law Ruth fit the bill perfectly. (See Ruth 1–4.)

Alma and the sons of Mosiah: At first, this friendship was destructive, because Alma and the sons of Mosiah spread false doctrine and disbelief throughout their land. In response to the faithful prayers of Alma and his people the Lord sent an angel to command them to stop. For three days they were unable to talk or move. Alma and the sons of Mosiah repented, and they became a force for good. (See Mosiah 27, Alma 17:1–3.)

[photos] Photography by Jerry Garns

1. Cain (Gen. 4:8).

2. Abraham (Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7:4).

3. Adam (Moses 5:5–6).

4. Abimelech (Judg. 9:6, 22).

5. Solomon’s father David, who was king of Judah before becoming king of all Israel (2 Sam. 2:10–11).

6. Jesus was the first to be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20), but he himself had previously caused Lazarus to return to life, which is different from resurrection (John 11:14–44). The first miracle of this type was performed by Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:17–24). His successor, Elisha, administered to a boy, the son of a Sunamite woman, and the boy returned from death (2 Kgs. 4:17–37).

7. Egyptus (a translation into English of the original “Ze-ptah”), founder of the royal house of Egypt after the flood (Abr. 1:23–25). This story is confirmed by Egyptian written legends.

8. Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9).

9. Judas Iscariot (Matt. 27:3–5).

10. Adam (Moses 5:12).

11. Adam (Gen. 3:17–19).

12. Abel (Gen 4:2).