In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the importance of personal scripture study cannot be—and seldom is—understated.
“Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high,” Elder Richard G. Scott taught. “They can become the key to opening the channel to communion with our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.”
But because Church members study the scriptures so often, the task can become tedious over time. Here are six strategies to bring variety to personal study.
1. Study a person
The scriptures — especially the Bible and Book of Mormon—are largely character-driven narratives. The lives of people whose experiences are recorded in the scriptures can teach Church members how to live the gospel in various circumstances.
If reading straight through the scriptures is getting tiresome, choose a specific person to follow. (Try, for example, Ammon, Corianton, Joseph in Egypt, or John the Beloved). Find every reference to this person and draw a timeline of his life. Note how his life changed and his faith grew stronger.
2. Study a lesson
Find out which lessons will be taught in church on coming Sundays and study them. Read all the referenced scriptures and answer the questions in the study guides. This is an excellent way to prepare for class discussions and to study the scriptures topically.
3. Study a general conference talk
The words of living prophets are modern-day scripture. Studying from recent general conference addresses can be a good way to bring variety to scripture study—especially if you go to the end notes and study the referenced scriptures.
“Study the word of God in the scriptures and the words of the living prophets,” Elder Richard G. Scott taught. “We talk to God through prayer. He most often communicates back to us through His written word.”
4. Use LDS.org as a study aid
5. Read the scriptures in a different format
Sometimes simply reading a different copy of the scriptures can change the way you see them. Reading from a replica of the original Book of Mormon—which had no verses and was printed with long paragraphs—can bring new insights. Or, simply reading from an unmarked copy can invite new revelation. If you usually read the scriptures on a tablet, try reading a printed copy (or vice versa).
“Once in a while I invest in a new copy of the Book of Mormon,” Sister Julie B. Beck said. “When I start reading that new book, I make notes in the margins so I have a record of what I am learning as I study. To help me remember what I am learning, I draw lines to connect ideas. I shade verses and underline key words. When I find ideas that relate to each other, I make a scripture chain to link those ideas. I like to think of my scriptures as a workbook, so sometimes I record where I was when I gained an insight or the name of the person who taught me. That way the experience is refreshed in my memory when I read that passage again.”
6. Memorize scriptures
If scripture study has become routine and you can’t remember what you studied a few hours later, perhaps memorizing verses would be helpful. Doing so will help you retain what you study and allow you to have the scriptures in your mind when you need them.
“Great power can come from memorizing scriptures,” Elder Richard G. Scott taught on another occasion. “To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change.”