Sunday, August 9, 2009

Daily Scripture Study and What it can do for Me

We had some very good talks on daily personal scripture study at church today. We all know we must eat to live. One of the talks mentioned that studying the scriptures is like a garden. Have you ever seen a clean garden, free of weeds, the rows stretching out with great organization? You know exactly where to find the tomatoes, potatoes, peas, etc., don't you? What about a garden overgrown with weeds? One year I remember having a garden that I just did not have the time to take care of. That was when I realized that I had to prioritize what was the most important thing to be doing. It was not a garden; it was weed infested, chaotic, and a mess! Nothing grew well and well, it was hard to even locate anything but the corn!

Can we do the same with our scripture studying? We know we must study and learn to stay close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and to receive the guidance we need from the Holy Spirit. We also know that there are ways to do this, the most important ways are through prayer, scripture study, and fasting. Prayer can be a with us at all times, we can have a secret prayer in our hearts by thinking of the normal daily things we need guidance with, the friend or neighbor who is sick or in need, our families, who are always close to our hearts, our daily work and how we approach it, and the many other things that one can think of. Without prayer, my day would exclude the presence of the Holy Spirit and His guidance. Could I go without that each day? I don't think so!

Ad with prayer, so it is with daily scripture study. Today there are so many ways one can study the scriptures. On your way to work you can listen to them on your i Pod or via a CD or cassette. At night you can do the same as you go to sleep. These ideas are easy ways to study the scriptures. They don't take any more time than turning on a machine and tuning it.

One of the talks pointed out that we need to study our scriptures in a more organized manner, not just read them. We need to find a quiet time when we have more than 5 or 10 minutes a day to spend studying them.

The talk quoted several points for good scripture study from Elder L. Lionel Kendrick's 1993 Ensign conference talk which I quote:

"It is not enough to read the scriptures. Random reading results in reduced retention. We must search for specifics. We must seek for truth and increased understanding of its application in our lives.

"If we are to be effective in our study of the scriptures, we must prepare for it to be a special spiritual experience. The following suggestions may be helpful.

"1. Schedule

"Schedule a time to search the scriptures daily. Scripture study is such an essential part of our spiritual development that we must take time and make it a priority in our daily schedule. Our spirits should never be deprived of the much-needed spiritual nourishment which comes from scripture study. Without this spiritual food our spirits become starved and weakened to temptation.

"President Kimball taught the principle that “no father, no son, no mother, no daughter should get so busy that he or she does not have time to study the scriptures and the words of modern prophets.” (Ensign, May 1976, p. 47.)

"2. Pray

"We should begin and end each study session with prayer. We must invite the Spirit to teach us. Nephi taught that: “the mysteries of God shall be unfolded … by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (1 Ne. 10:19.)

"3. Search

"To search is to seek, to explore, to examine carefully. As we study we should do so with purpose, searching for specifics and an expansion of our vision of eternal truth. We must search for principles, doctrines, answers to questions, and solutions to problems. We should look for doctrinal relationships and for possible hidden meanings of that which has been recorded.

"4. Ponder

"To ponder is to meditate, to think, to feast, and to treasure. It is more than a mental method, it is a spiritual striving to obtain and to understand truth. We should follow the process taught by the Savior to the Nephites as he taught them sacred principles. He then instructed them to “Go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow.” (3 Ne. 17:3.)

"We should ponder the meanings of the things we learn from our search of the scriptures. The Apostle Paul instructed the Philippian Saints to “think on these things.” (Philip. 4:8.) To think involves forming mental images in the mind and focusing intently upon that which has been discovered. Nephi counseled to “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.) To feast is to consume, to digest, to absorb.

"As we ponder, we should follow the counsel of the Savior when he said, “Treasure up in your minds continually the words of life.” (D&C 84:85). This implies that we should repeat in our minds the principles we have learned and draw upon them in each of our decisions.

"5. Relate

"Nephi has counseled to “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” (1 Ne. 19:23.) We must read as if the Lord were speaking directly to us in a personal manner.

"6. Apply

"President Marion G. Romney counseled: “Learning the gospel from the written word … is not enough. It must also be lived. … One cannot fully learn the gospel without living it.” (Ensign, Sept. 1980, p. 4.) As we learn a principle, we must make a real effort to apply and to live it in our life."

Elder Kendrick ended his talk with this conclusion:
"The scriptures are priceless possessions. If we search the scriptures, seeking for the plain and precious principles, the Lord will reveal his will unto us and we will be richly blessed. If we research the revelations and respond correctly to them, we will return home safely to Heavenly Father. To this I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen."
(Ensign, May 1993)

Can I not find some time to study, really study my scriptures as the Lord would have me? Would I not truly benefit from this study time? Think of how we would grow in the gospel if we put our Prophet and Apostles testimonies on scripture study to the test.

Can I challenge you, my readers to find time to "meet me in your favorite chair for scripture study daily"? I know I need to prioritize my scripture study time today, not tomorrow. My scripture study garden needs some real weeding!

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