“Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).
Studying the scriptures has always been something that I struggle with. Why is it a struggle? The answer is simple, I haven’t made it a priority. That sounds horrible, but that is the truth. Life is crazy and we are all busy. As I reflect on my life, specifically times when I have struggled with scripture study, I realize that I often put other things before things that are most important, like studying scriptures. Am I the only one? No, I know that there are many of us that struggle with this and that is why I am writing this post.
Tips for Making Scripture Study a Priority
Before I jump into sharing some great scripture study skills I just want to quickly share a few tips to make scripture study a priority.
- Remove Distractions: Waking up with a list of things to do can be a bit distracting, especially if they’re time sensitive. This might mean that you need to take a little time the night before to do a few things so that you’re not worried about it in the morning. Turn your phone on airplane mode so you aren’t distracted by texts or notifications. What other distractions can you remove to help you study?
- Have a Quiet Place to Study: I have come to understand how important “quiet” is. It is in these moments of stillness that I truly hear Him and understand His words. Do you have a place you can go to each day and feast upon the words? Is there a specific time of day that you could set as scripture study time? Maybe you could take some time to create a special space for this purpose. Include your children in designing such a space and teach them why having a quiet place to study is important.
- Have a Plan: There have been times when I am so overwhelmed by my huge list of to-do’s (with no real plan to complete them) that I find myself doing nothing because I don’t even know where to begin. I feel like this can happen with scripture study. We have so many things that we can study that we can find ourselves not studying at all because we have no idea where to begin. We have been blessed with the new Come, Follow Me curriculum that can help us make a plan. Do you make a plan each week to study the Come, Follow Me lesson? How can you break up the weekly lesson so that you are studying each day? How has making a plan helped you?
Scripture Study Skills & Tips
Now let’s talk about scripture study skills. Last year I completed an online religion course through BYU-Idaho. I love taking religion classes! They help keep me balanced and help re-prioritize my life. As part of the class, we were given a list of study skills to use while studying. Each week we were asked to choose a new skill to use. I grew to love these study skills and found that they improved my scripture study and made studying interesting and more enjoyable.
I am excited to share some of my favorite study skills that I used and applied. I am also sharing a printable to help you in your studies and some of my favorite resources.
Study Skill #1: Substitution
The first study skill is called Substitution. We have all probably learned the study of substituting our own names. For instance, 1 Nephi 1:1 “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents…” If you substituted this with your name you would read it as, “I, “Sheena”, having been born of goodly parents…”
Substituting my name was the only skill I ever remember being taught when it came to “substitution”, but I learned that there is actually more to this study skill.
Another iteration of how to substitute is to look up words. In elementary school, your teacher introduced you to the wonders of the dictionary, now it’s time to use that skill once again but during scripture study. One way that we can look up definitions is to first look up the regular definition.
So let’s go to 2 Timothy 1:8-“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;”
For this verse I substituted my name, but also replaced “ashamed”. Sheena, be not thou therefore [embarrassed by your] testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.
When I first applied substitution I would look up more difficult words, but after using this study skill I often find myself looking up and replacing all kinds of words from the verses. I have found several words that I thought I knew the definition only to find that the word had deeper meanings that I didn’t know. When this happens I often look at the scripture verse in a new way.
When looking up definitions of words you will find that there are “regular definitions,” “archaic definitions,” and then we have the “Lord’s definitions”. Using each of these types of definitions can help us find different meanings for words, and will help us to have a deeper understanding of the scriptures.
Study Skill #2: Find a Principle
The second study skill that I would like to share is “Find a Principle” or “Cause and Effect”. Each week in my religion class we had to create three principles from the block of scriptures we were studying that week. To do this we had to create “If…Then” statements.
Boyd K. Packer said, “A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally, principles are not spelled out in detail. That leaves you free to find your way with an enduring truth, a principle, as your anchor” (Ensign, May 1996, p. 17).
I grew to love this study skill. There would be times where I only needed one more principle, but as I read the verses several principles would pop out at me.
Cause and Effect is when you notice that a scripture writer is demonstrating how a certain action or attitude will bring about a certain result. The action or attitude is the CAUSE and the result is the EFFECT. Some words to look for when searching for a principle include: If/Then, Inasmuch, and Because.
Sometimes the scriptures will only use “if” and then you will need to fill in the “then”. Sometimes in scripture, “if-then” and “cause-effect” is more implied, and you have to tease it out. Other times you may have to rearrange the order of the phrasing of the scripture verse to find your principle.
What principle do you find in this scripture? 1 Peter 1:24 – “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.“
Study Skill #3: Clustering
The third study skill that I would like to share is “Clustering”. Neal A. Maxwell said this concerning clustering, “Cluster your scriptures together. Your scriptures of the Church need each other, they help each other. Cluster the scriptures topically as if they were a bunch of grapes from which you can squeeze all the juice and distill all the meaning.”
Boyd K. Packer shared this, “Individual doctrine of the gospel are not fully explained in one place in the scriptures. They must be assembled from pieces here and there.”
Robert Wahlquist, from BYU-Idaho, explained clustering as, “Listing a number of scriptures about a single theme in one location. In other words, several scriptures about the same topic are clustered around a single verse. What can you cluster? Pick a theme, any theme, but the best clusters focus on eternal truths. Salvational truths, things we call principles or doctrines. Where can you write your scripture cluster? Anywhere that is familiar to you. I use seminary mastery verses because I remember them and they work great.”
Other Study Skills & Why I Use Them When Studying
There are several other great scripture study tools that I use and enjoy while studying. After a quick search I found a PDF file of all the study tools from BYU-Idaho, and an explanation of each, HERE! You can also find a list of these study skills (and a short explanation) HERE. Once you are on the page, click on the link that says “Nine Scripture Study Skills” under the “Other Resources” title on the menu on the left side of the page.
I really enjoy choosing one of the study skills to focus on as I study. I found that as I do this my studies are more focused and I learn so much more. You could choose a study skill to use for one week or change it up every day.
I enjoyed learning and applying the study skills that I briefly talked about above, but there are some other resources that I often use when studying. Here are some great resources for you to use if you’re looking to improve your studies.
Free Online Manuals
I would say that my favorite resource to use when studying scriptures are free and can easily be found online! During my Religion class I often used the online Seminary and Institute teacher manuals found on the church’s website, HERE.
I enjoy using these manuals as I study because it shares insights to questions I may have. You will also find quotes from church leaders about topics that are taught in the scriptures and questions to ponder and deepen your understanding. These stories, quotes, and questions are great resources that can be used for your family as you study Come, Follow Me.
I recently found a great podcast with Ganel-Lyn Condie and Scott Sorensen called Real Talk-Come Follow Me. They also share a video each week on YouTube and Facebook. I love that each episode is short, about 20 minutes, and that they share an invitation/question each week to ponder. I have really enjoyed the episodes that I have listened to and it has helped me gain new insights each week.
Study Guide to Purchase
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My last little tip that I often use when studying my scriptures are these amazing study guides by David J. Ridges. I first received Ridges’ “Book of Mormon Made Easier” study guides as a Christmas Present from my husband. I immediately fell in love with his books.
When the church announced that we would be studying the New Testament I purchased the Kindle version of his book. I personally like the actual books rather than the Kindle version, but I did enjoy having the Kindle version on my phone, especially when I didn’t have the books with me. You can find all of David J. Ridges study guides, HERE.
Scripture Study Sheets
To go along with the tips and resources that I have shared here today I am sharing some Scripture Study Sheets for you to print out and use! I have shared a color version as well as a black and white. I hope you will find these printable helpful.
My Scripture Study Sheets include space for you to record what chapters/verses you will be studying, three different boxes for study skills, and then space at the bottom for notes, thoughts, or ideas that you might have as you study. I also created a blank sheet where you can fill in your desired study skill if you are wanting to use a different skill than the ones that I included on my other sheet.
I would love to hear if you use my scripture study sheets and if they help improve your studies. If you find a study skill that you love be sure to come back and let me know or leave a comment on Instagram or Facebook!
Thanks for stopping by!