One of the pillars of Latter-day Saint worship is the frequent reading of the holy scriptures. This daily devotion to the word of God keeps one focused on the premise that God lives, He is concerned with His children and we are accountable to Him for the way we choose to live our lives.
“More scriptures enlighten our minds, nourish our spirits, answer our questions, increase our trust in the Lord, and help us center our lives on Him,” said Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, second counselor in the Primary general presidency. “Remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby” (“Trust in the Lord and Lean Not,” April 2017 general conference).
Being diligent at something means a person works at it often. If we are diligent at exercise, it becomes part of our daily routine. Scripture study is similar for the growth and maintenance of our spirituality. Just as one cannot be physically fit after one workout, the knowledge from daily scripture study cannot be received in one day.
The late President Thomas S. Monson said, “Crash courses are not nearly so effective as the day-to-day reading and application of the scriptures in our lives. Become acquainted with the lessons the scriptures teach. Learn the background and setting of the Master’s parables and the prophets’ admonitions. Study them as though they were speaking to you, for such is the truth” (“Be Your Best Self,” April 2009 general conference).
President Spencer W. Kimball shared insight from his life about what he would do when he felt his spirituality was weak. “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns. I find myself loving more intensely those whom I must love with all my heart and mind and strength, and loving them more, I find it easier to abide their counsel” (“The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball,” ed. Edward L. Kimball , p. 135).
The fruits associated with regular and diligent reading of the scriptures cannot be denied. “I think that people who study the scriptures get a dimension to their life that nobody else gets and that can’t be gained in any way except by studying the scriptures,” said Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Jan. 24, 1976, issue of the Church News. “There’s an increase in faith and a desire to do what’s right and a feeling of inspiration and understanding that comes to people who study the gospel — meaning particularly the Standard Works — and who ponder the principles, that can’t come in any other way.”
The natural man and woman can be pacified by reading the scriptures. The desire for sin can diminish. Prophets both old and new have promised this. “The moment you begin a serious study of the [Book of Mormon], you will find greater power to resist temptation,” said President Ezra Taft Benson. “You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the straight and narrow path. ... When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance” (October 1986 general conference).
To some, the reading of scripture may seem boring or of little value. To others, the words create a hunger and thirst for more. “I am grateful for emphasis on reading the scriptures,” President Gordon B. Hinckley said. “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” (“The Light within You,” Ensign, May 1995).
In a video interview with youth from 2012, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared that his scripture study includes highlighting a word or phrase that is the center point of a verse of scripture rather than highlighting the whole verse. “There are little reminders that I like to put into my scriptures. Some words I highlight quite boldly and seeing those words when I turn to those scriptures reminds me of the context and content of the entire verse” (“Advice for Studying the Scriptures”).
There are a variety of methods and practices for studying the scriptures. It’s important for every individual to find something that works for him or her. The LDS.org website lists 10 tips for successful scripture study:
1. Pray and seek the Spirit.
2. Look at maps to set the stage for scripture study. Stories will have more meaning if a person knows the distance, locations and setting.
3. Look for lists within a scripture that give a sequence of steps to follow.
4. Look for patterns and repetition.
5. Look for commandments and promised blessings.
6. Look for personal application about how one might “liken the scriptures” to his or her personal situation.
7. Study to learn more about a specific topic.
8. Research a person or prophet and learn everything about him or her.
9. Seek answers to personal questions.
10. Look specifically for the Savior and His teachings.
The scriptures are powerful tools. When used, these tools can draw us closer to the Savior and help us become better men and women. They also contain the promises and blessings for those who seek God and His Son Jesus Christ. President Russell M. Nelson said, “When you read the Book of Mormon, concentrate on the principal figure in the book — from its first chapter to the last — the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. And look for a second undergirding theme: God will keep His covenants with the remnants of the house of Israel” (“A Testimony of the Book of Mormon,” October 1999 general conference).