How Long Should We Study the Scriptures?

Nov 07
How long should we study the scriptures?

Today at church a sister got up and shared her testimony. She related that her college age son recently called and spoke with her and said, “mom, I finally figured out how long I need to read the scriptures…

For all my life I’ve never heard the answer declared so simply and eloquently. How long we should read the scriptures has been expressed in different ways all through my decades of memories while attending church. “Read a chapter a day.” “Read 15 minutes a day.” “Read 30 minutes a day.” “Read an extra 5 minutes a day.”

None of the statements I’ve heard have ever satisfied me. It wasn’t until I started searching the scriptures for answers instead of merely reading them that I started to feel the power of the Holy Ghost in my life and that opened up the scriptures to me in completely new ways. There is a big difference between reading and searching and it’s what led me to create alternate tools to search the scriptures with.

This young man continued by telling his mom, “we need to read the scriptures until you don’t want to stop reading the scriptures.”

I would replace the word “read” with “search” but wordsmithing aside, this encapsulates my feelings precisely. It’s life changing when you love the scriptures enough to have them open up and reveal their secrets to you.

George Washington Carver said:

Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough. Not only have I found that when I talk to the little flower or to the little peanut they will give up their secrets, but I have found that when I silently commune with people they give up their secrets also – if you love them enough.”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said,

To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!” -Neal A. Maxwell, “Meek and Lowly” (Brigham Young University devotional, Oct. 21, 1986), 9.

Do we want these secrets God is willing to give away? Do we read the scriptures until we don’t want to stop? Are we merely reading for a set time or set amount of content and then putting the scriptures away thinking we’ve checked off a to-do item for the day? Will that generate the power and influence of the Spirit in our lives to give us the guidance and direction and protection we need that day?

Are our prayers the same? Do we pray until we don’t want to stop praying? Is that achieving what the scriptures call “mighty prayer?”

How do we improve our love for something?

We have to do what Alma taught and experiment upon the word like a seed grows. We have to devote ourselves to it and once we find success, once we achieve revelation, once we find love, we don’t want to stop. We don’t want to let go of it. We want to receive more.

When Parley P. Pratt first first encountered the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, he started reading it and described the event like this in his autobiography:

“I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep. I knew and comprehended that the book was true.” –The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938), 37.

How many of us experience the love and passion of the scriptures on this level? I have experienced it many times. I try to experience it every morning. I love to discover the secrets in the scriptures, the things that are hiding in plain sight if we just pause and think and ponder and pray and ask and receive and seek and find and knock and have it opened to us.

Scripture Notes can help you do this. Even the free version of the software is extremely powerful. It’s how I studied for about 20 years with a very basic version of the original software I made. Now it’s much more powerful and useful in digging into the scriptures.

For example, one day years ago I saw the word director talking about the Liahona. A thought entered my mind, “search for verses that use the word director.” So I did a search for:

Director* (asterisk is a wildcard)

Five verses appeared and I discovered something amazing which I talk about in Tutorial 1 for Scripture Notes on using collection notes. Go do the search and make the connection. This is an example of what I refer to as an Easter egg in the scriptures.

This past week I saw another interesting thing when doing a search for:

Signs and devils

Four verses appeared and one of them was not quite like the others which led to my pondering on the relationship of why these particular signs of believers are given yet rarely spoken of today.

I know my life has been blessed by searching the scriptures and making these kinds of connections. Someone recently told me how excited he was that Scripture Notes can do concordance searches and pull up all the verses that contain a word (check out this post for an example). This is a great way to search and look for meaning in how the Lord uses a word across the scriptures, and it’s the beginning of how to study like the Hebrews did. Coming up in a soon to be revealed webinar, we’ll have a special guest to dive into this a little more, just in time for studying the Old Testament in the Come Follow Me program next year.

 

(Featured image by niserin at 123rf.com)

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About the Author

Oak Norton - Sometimes inspired, sometimes perspired.

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