We all know the Primary answers to read the scriptures and pray every day. But even though the call to read the scriptures is easy in theory, it is something that we often need to make a renewed effort to keep up with.
This post was originally given as a talk by me in my church ward in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in June 2021. A few small edits were made to the contents for it to be ready as a blog post.
Also, be sure to head over to grab our printable Book of Mormon Reading Chart!
I am one who always works in “batch mode” where I can do a whole bunch of something – like writing blog posts, or genealogy, or right now my current obsession is emergency prep – but after the initial rush and excitement wears off, so does the consistency.
5 Easy Ways to Increase
Your Love of the Scriptures
I lived abroad in Wuhan, China for a semester right after high school. I spent hours every day studying my scriptures. I truly developed a deep love and interest in everything the scriptures said. They came alive to me and I would end up down rabbit holes reading from footnote to footnote and story after story.
It is easy to devote a big chunk of time to studying the scriptures when you are in a foreign land away from your family, friends, and hobbies. But I can clearly remember my roommate and a good friend I made during the trip having to drag me away from scripture study to go buy our daily ice cream bar or to join in on one of the activities at the school we were house at.
It would be nice if we had no other commitments – no work, kids, Facebook distractions, you know all those things that get in the way! But that amount of study was not sustainable and thankfully it is not what is asked of us. We are only asked to delve into the scriptures a little bit each day with consistency. That leads me to my first tip:
1. Make it a Habit!
One of the most effective ways to stick to and accomplish something that is important to you is to make it a habit. Do you have to make a conscious decision each morning to brush your teeth? Or to put in your contacts? Or to go to the bathroom? How about to make breakfast? Whatever your routine looks like, those basic actions you repeat each morning, or each night are simply a habit – something you do without a lot of energy or thought.
The power of a habit is you no longer will have to make a conscious choice – will I read my scriptures tonight or am I too tired? When you have set it as a habit and as part of your routine, you will just do it, without a lot of thought to whether you should or open up opportunities to excuse away the scriptures because you cannot keep your eyes open or maybe you just hit the snooze button one too many times and now you are running late to get out the door.
There are a lot of numbers thrown around, on how long it takes to make a new habit part of your routine. Some will say 21 days, or 30 days, but studies have shown that it will actually take 66 days to make something feel automatic and part of your routine – an actual habit.
So how do you get through the first 66 days? A week is easy, maybe in 2 or 3 weeks. But beyond that it is easy to let something drop off your radar. So, my tip, is to set an alarm. Take your phone and literally pick a specific time and stick to it each day. Set an alarm to go off to remind you and then commit to yourself that you will not ignore the alarm. Even if you are in a rush, you will stop for a few minutes to read the scriptures!
Maybe you can set your alarm to play along the tune to the Primary song, “Search, Ponder and Pray” as your theme song while you work to make it a habit. The lyrics say:
“I love to read the holy scriptures,
and ev’ry time I do,
I feel the Spirit start to grow within my heart –
a testimony that they’re true.
Search, ponder, and pray
Are the things that I must do.
The Spirit will guide, and, deep inside,
I’ll know the scriptures are true.”
2. Apply the Scriptures to Your Life
At the last Raleigh Women’s day, I was able to attend a great class taught by a sister in our stake. I do not recall who taught the lesson, but the concept has stuck with me. She shared the way she finds answers to her prayers. First, she ponders a question and then with a specific question in mind she writes down in a scripture journal her specific question or need.
After writing down her question, she asks for inspiration and guidance to find help with her problems or concerns. Shen then turns to the scriptures and reads them. She would write down thoughts and impressions that come from what she reads. Sometimes it applies specifically and immediately to her question. Other times, it may take a few days of pondering, asking, and reading until the answer comes, but it has always come.
I tried the same approach, for a little bit, and absolutely loved it. It made it so easy to apply the scriptures to my everyday problems. True to my nature, though, that habit unfortunately didn’t stick. It is something I still think of often, and desire to pick back up as a habit. What an amazing way to literally find connections from the scriptures to your life in your everyday experiences and concerns.
I can recall another experience, though, where a specific scripture story that Danny and I had been reading and talking about became the specific answers to our prayers. It was the story of Nephi & his brothers heading to retrieve the plates from Laban. Now this is a story you might think is hard to relate to, but with the Spirit connections sometimes come in meaningful ways that help you relate a story to bring answers to your life.
I loved how Nephi started out the beginning of sharing his experience in that story saying: “Behold, I Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom He hath chosen, because of their faith to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” – 1 Nephi 1:20
Back in 2015, my husband and I had a very difficult decision ahead of us where we felt there was no easy choice to be made. We saw from Laman and Lemuel the fear they had to try to accomplish the thing the Lord had set out for them to do.
They even had an angel approach them and rebuke them for doubting and assure them the Lord will be with them on their path. Still, they lamented, murmured, and doubted. Would our response be like theirs – one of fear and doubt (as there was for sure lots of fear and uncertainty to what would lie ahead for us) – or would we instead be able to completely rely on the Lord, as Nephi puts it, being “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” 1 Nephi 4:6
We likewise felt like we had to step forward not knowing for sure what path we would choose. Our specific circumstance was one we whole heartly felt that we needed actual deliverance from. Interestingly, Nephi’s mother Sariah says upon her boys returning with the plates that she knows that the Lord had “given them power” to accomplish the task before them. The scriptures here specifically opened up to me. A loving Heavenly Father has provided me with the power of agency, promptings, wisdom, family members, and other resources that helped to create a path of deliverance.
What followed was truly a miracle, as a path was presented, that we felt was the correct path for us proceed with. Our family was able to stay together against what started as unsurmountable odds and opposition against us. The scriptures have a very real power to relate to our lives in even the most unusual ways.
In 2 Nephi 32:3 it tells us to “Feast upon the words of Christ for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” I know that this is true, that we can find answers in the scriptures by applying them to our lives. I have had that experience in several significant and many mostly trivial circumstances throughout my life.
3. Talk About the Scriptures with Others
For my 3rd tip, I have found that a great way to get more depth and learning, and a love for the scriptures is talking about the scriptures with others. Before covid, I joined with some other sisters in the ward for a small scripture study group.
We met once a week and studied first a study guide about the names of Christ and then following that we went through reading Jesus the Christ. It was so neat to come together and share what different things we all picked up on from the readings and I felt like I learned so much from these brilliant women. It also helped by giving me a deadline, a purpose, and accountability!
4. Make it “New” Again
To add variety and keep adding unique perspectives as we read through the scriptures, we can – Number 4 – Make them “new” again. There are easily a dozen different ways you can read the scriptures that will present the passages in a new light. Here are a few ideas, for those looking for something new and fun to try:
- Read in chronological order – Look up a guide to read the scriptures by date rather than in page # order.
- Read it fast – My dad challenges everyone he meets to read it in a week. He even bribes them and once paid most the kids in his seminary class $50. I’ve done it before, and I’ve even read through the book in 24 hours once! That one is definitely a challenge. But reading through it quick will help link stories that aren’t as close together and bring a new view.
Hint: Grab our free printable Book of Mormon Reading Chart!
- Try ponderizing – Find a specific passage to study, memorize, discuss, or focus on for the week.
- Highlight a word – This one many have heard before – you can try going through and highlighting all the references to Christ, for example. Or, if you want to study a specific topic like prayer or how to be a better parent – pick a focus and start highlighting what stands out to you.
- Digital Highlighting – I added a note to the first page of the scriptures with a highlighting key, which I reference from time to time, and then I highlight based on specific topics including miracles, mentions of Christ, bearing of testimony, and parenting tips!
- Heart Sticker – Find and mark conditions of the heart with a little heart sticker. This is a great way to study the pride cycle!
- Add Emojis – The kids will love this one! Read 1-3 verse, stopping where it seemed like there was a natural shift to the next part of the chapter. Mark important parts of that small section with a new color per section and then summarize the section’s topic with a small icon that represented the verses.
- Start with a question before reading – To help focus your studies, start with a question!
- Read it like a book – Instead of breaking at verses, string a few verses together and read it like a book.
- Study by Topic – Dive deep into a topic you want to study, and then write up what you’ve learned!
- Read with a Companion Book – Choose another study resource and read them together! The Book of Mormon Made Easier (affiliate link), and similar titles, are really good!
- Pray about what you should study – You can start with a prayer to be directed to what to read that day. It may be in one of the books of scriptures or maybe a conference talk, Ensign article, or other resource come to mind.
5. Simplify – just read!
My final tip is to simplify – just read! While the gimmicks and fun ways I have talked about are wonderful for bringing a new viewpoint to your readings, the most important thing you can do is to just be in the scriptures every day. You can incorporate the fun tactics, sharing the scriptures, and other tips I have shared when you have the motivation to do so.
But when you are pressed for time and wanting to push your scriptures to the back corner of your nightstand and your to-do list, remember that you don’t need a big commitment, any fancy tools, or an Instagramable photo of your colorful dot notes journal of all your deep insights to grow from reading the scriptures. It’s the daily, consistent, reading of the Book of Mormon that has the power to change your life.
Do you ever wonder why we read the scriptures? I will end with this quote by President Ezra Taft Benson:
“It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.”“The Book of Mormon – Keystone of Our Religion” – President Ezra Taft Benson
I have a great love of the scriptures and for the Book of Mormon in particular. I have had many experiences where been able to teach, inspire, correct, strengthen and support me, and most importantly reinforce who I am to Him and to the Savior.