Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Six Tips For More Effective Scripture Study

I have the blessing and privilege of being a Young Adult Institute instructor in my Stake. What that means is that I have a wonderful opportunity to "rub shoulders" with some of the greatest people I know on this earth. I believe that one of my Young Adult friends summed up the character of these “Children of the Promise”, or this generation, best when he observed:

“Our generation will do things different from generations past. We are strong enough to do it. We were prepared that way in the preexistence. We have more scripture and examples to learn from. It's prophesied that we will come through, so we have that positive mindset. Nevertheless, it will still take great faith. When others have fallen in the past we will rise up because of our faith. We are still reliant on the Lord. We need to serve him in faith, love and humility. We will realize more fully than past generations and the Lord will lift us up.” Zeb Shockley

I believe that because of their desire to know, and willingness to study, they will be blessed with that strong foundation that is needed to combat the evils in the world coming at them with equal force and frequency as the good.

In the most recent BYU Devotional Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy spoke to the BYU students in attendance and emphasized to them the importance of building their testimonies on the rock Helaman spoke of.

Helaman 5:12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

Elder Jensen gave six tips that he promised would help any student of the scriptures gain more insights from their studies when used. They are as follows:

First was to pray. He told of a time when he was waiting for his airplane to take off — he thumbed through the in-flight magazine and then began to flip through his scriptures. As he did so, he felt the Spirit tell him that he should pray before studying the scriptures instead of treating God’s word as he did a common magazine.

Second, pay the right price. It’s important to search, ponder, analyze and compare instead of merely reading.

“Going through the scriptures regularly is good,” he said, “but to have the scriptures go through you and have them change you comes with a price.”

Third, look for patterns, using whatever study aides necessary.

Fourth, have a pencil and notebook ready to write down impressions. He said we have the 138th section of the Doctrine and Covenants because President Joseph F. Smith wrote down the inspiration he received while studying the scriptures.

Fifth, mark, annotate and write in the margins. Jensen is on his fourth set of scriptures since serving as a mission president in Colombia. He said well-marked scriptures serve as a “portable revelatory filing system.”

Sixth, teach what you learn. He said he does not consider a principle mastered until he can articulate it to someone else. He said it is our responsibility to teach others.

We are long past the days of reading simply out of habit or obedience, and have moved into a time where it is imperative to read for direction in our lives. These Young Adults have been taught better than any other generation how to do this. Where much is given, much is expected.

What are some techniques you find helpful when you study the scriptures?

1 comment:

David Milo Pearson said...

Elder Sterling W. Sill, once a an assistant to the Twelve, and later a member of the First Quorum of Seventy said, quoting Proverbs— "With all thy getting, get understanding". Elder Sill then added, 'Someone also said, "With all thy getting, get going!!!"

Both are necessary! We need to go through the scriptures to get understanding. But sometimes, we need to go through them to become more acquainted with them.

Also, the admonition given in the Doctrine & Covenants, is also most essential— "...Seek learning, even by study and also by faith..."
(Doctrine and Covenants | Section 88:118) As we seek learning, we need to realize that "study" must be done. Hours, days, weeks, months, even years of scripture study, pondering, praying, etc are vital. But if we study, we may become scholarly. But adding the key ingredient of 'faith' makes the difference between merely becoming a scholar, and becoming a saint!