Scripture Study Techniques & Tips – 1 through 5


Scripture Study Techniques 1-5

Scripture Study Techniques Introduction

Boring scripture study sessions will be a thing of the past when you start using Scripture Notes coupled with these scripture study techniques.

This is the first batch of scripture study technique videos. Each video is 2-3 minutes and explains a new method for studying the scriptures. Many more will follow.

Have you ever felt stuck in your scripture study? Maybe you just got in a rut and weren’t sure how to get out so you’ve quit or relegated yourself to listening on audio or just reading a chapter a day but inside you’re longing for something to spark the scriptures to life again. I believe most people get stuck reading the scriptures because they don’t do it with real intent because there’s nothing they are actively searching for.

My name is Oak Norton and for 20 years I’ve wanted to create the ultimate scripture study app that was supremely flexible. It’s now released and it’s called Scripture Notes.

This video is an introduction to a new series of short tips and techniques you can use as you study the scriptures that will breathe new life into your study time. There are so many different approaches to studying the scriptures this is going to be really fun. The videos are going to be short so you can watch them within a couple minutes and then try something new out.

Lets get to it. In a 2007 devotional talk at BYU, Elder Bednar spoke about 3 different methods of obtaining information from the scriptures.

“I now want to review with you three basic ways or methods of obtaining living water from the scriptural reservoir: (1) reading the scriptures from beginning to end, (2) studying the scriptures by topic, and (3) searching the scriptures for connections, patterns, and themes. Each of these approaches can help satisfy our spiritual thirst if we invite the companionship and assistance of the Holy Ghost as we read, study, and search.”

In addition, my friend Ken Krogue pointed out that there is also skipping (which is moving past difficult or detailed areas of scripture where you might get bogged down, and just focus on the key stories, covenants, and doctrine that build testimony) and skimming (looking at trends, stories, and big picture ideas).

Each of these 5 methods is beneficial at times depending on what you are looking to accomplish.

With Scripture Notes, you are getting a powerful tool that will let you dive into any of these methods, and keep track of all your notes and revelation permanently.

This video series is going to cover dozens of ways to approach studying the scriptures and I promise if you try them out, it’ll be easier to leave Babylon than to leave your scripture study sessions.

Now, lets get started with our first training and see how a tool designed for the job changes everything about the way you study.

Scripture Study Technique #1 – Cut & Sort

Hey everyone. This is Oak Norton with Scripture Notes and this is scripture study technique #1 – Cut & Sort

In 2007, Elder Bednar gave a talk at BYU and said:

“If you promise not to laugh, I will tell you about one of the simple ways I search for scriptural themes. I do not advocate or recommend that you use the same approach; different people use different methods with equal effectiveness. I am simply describing a process that works well for me…

I identified and made copies of every scripture in the standard works that included any form of the word gather. I next read each scripture, looking for connections, patterns, and themes. It is important to note that I did not start my reading with a preconceived set of things for which I was looking. I prayed for the assistance of the Holy Ghost and simply started reading.

As I reviewed the scriptures about gathering, I marked verses with similar phrases or points of emphasis, using a colored pencil. By the time I had read all of the scriptures, some of the verses were marked in red, some were marked in green, and some were marked in other colors.

Now, here comes the part that may make you laugh. I next used my scissors to cut out the scriptures I had copied and sorted them into piles by color. The process produced a large pile of scriptures marked with red, a large pile of scriptures marked with green, and so forth. I then sorted the scriptures within each large pile into smaller piles. As a first grader I must have really liked cutting with scissors and putting things into piles!

The results of this process taught me a great deal about the principle of gathering. For example, I learned from examining my large piles that the scriptures describe at least three key aspects of gathering: the purposes of gathering, the types and places of gathering, and the blessings of gathering.”

If only Elder Bednar had Scripture Notes at his disposal, this would have been a thousand times easier.

Do a search for gather, create 3 collection notes. These are our buckets.

Now review the results and drag and drop the verses into the CN’s. Any time you gain an insight, make a note of it either for the verse in the verse note, or in the master collection note depending on which level that comment should exist at. Is it just tied to the verse, or an insight for the entire topic, or both?

Now save the collection notes and every time you find that verse in the scriptures, you can get right to your topic with all your insights. That’s powerful. Sign up now at

Scripture Study Technique #2 – Write a Sermon

What’s the difference between sitting in a Sunday School class and teaching it? What’s the difference between sitting in Sacrament meeting listening to a talk, and giving a talk?

We all know the person preparing the lesson spent a lot of time preparing and they got way more out of that lesson than we ever did.

Hey everyone. This is Oak Norton with Scripture Notes and this is scripture study technique number 2  called write a Sermon.

When Elder Bruce R. McConkie passed away in 1985, the church published a memorial biography on their site and mentioned this:

“At age 19, Bruce served a two-year mission in the Eastern States Mission. After returning home he attended school at the University of Utah, earning his B.A. degree, and later his juris doctor degree. It was while walking to and from school at the university that he developed a habit of study that was of great value to him. He would think of a subject in the gospel such as repentance and would then, in his mind, make up an outline for a sermon on the subject, adding the appropriate scriptures and supporting material. Doing this daily as he walked gave him practice in analysis of doctrinal subjects. This careful organization and logical progression was evident in his sermons.”

What do you do with the information you gather when you study the scriptures? Are you organizing it into a sermon or lesson? It’s a whole different level of understanding when you have the intent to teach someone what you know. Your organization and logical flow of ideas gets refined way more than if you are just reading the scriptures for personal benefit.

Scripture Notes makes this easy with the master note area of a topic. Just take the collection of verses and write the key points about those verses in that master note area. Then write a sermon from your notes. What is the logical progression of ideas? Seek revelation and understanding about these topics and you’ll find the Lord gives you new insights you hadn’t previously thought of.

Try it now at In the future we’re going to make this even more powerful. See you next time.

Scripture Study Technique #3 – Monotony

Oak Norton here for Today is scripture study technique #3 and I like to call it, monotony, because sometimes monotony gets exciting.

Do you drive to work or go on vacation and count speed limit signs? Probably not. I hope not. Why is it when you’re driving down the road that you don’t remember all the little details passing you by? You get to work or somewhere and don’t remember much about the trip. But a new billboard stands out or a funny bumper sticker like “if I honk you’ve been home taught.” The reason is your brain tunes out the mundane and only grabs your attention as needed. And hopefully it’s not needed too often when you’re driving.

Scripture study can be a lot like this. We’re familiar with the road so we breeze through it without really noticing much that is new. It’s a monotonous drive.

Well, there have been several times in my life when I really wanted to get more out of a section of scripture. A few that come to mind are segments on the priesthood in Doctrine and Covenants sections 84 and 121, some of the Savior’s teachings in 3 Nephi, Nephi’s teachings in 2 Nephi 31 & 32, and the amazing content of Doctrine and Covenants section 93. For those sections or chapters, I have on occasion, read them every day for several days to allow the things I easily notice to become monotonous and then only the new billboards and bumper stickers to stand out. Sometimes I might read the verses in different ways putting emphasis on different words or phrases, or maybe even out loud (but quietly) just to see what jumps out at me. The more you repeat it, the more your mind looks for something new because your mind was built to explore and discover and naturally seeks revelation.

Try it out. Pick a chapter you want to study and in Scripture Notes, write all your notes for that chapter as you go through it. Then for a few days, go through the chapter and see what else stands out to you and make more notes. I promise if you’ll do this for several days, you’ll see things you didn’t anticipate and discover questions you can prayerfully research.

Sign up today at, and till next time…stay monotonous.

Scripture Study Technique #4 – Micro-Reading

Did you have a microscope as a kid? I did and it was pretty cool but also kind of a pain because you had to get that little plastic slide out, put your specimen on it, and then a drop of solution and then cover it with the plastic square just to be able to look at it under the microscope. Well today you can get an inexpensive digital microscope like this one for pretty cheap and look at anything on a cell phone or a computer screen. They can be super powerful to see cool things (and sometimes gross things depending on what you’re looking at).

I’m Oak Norton with and this is tip #4 which I call micro-reading.

There are many verses in scripture that contain “hidden truths” we love to find. Sometimes a word as small and insignificant as “a” or “the” can cause something to jump out at us in a fantastic way. Sometimes it’s a plural form of a word that we skip over because our brain isn’t focused. Sometimes it’s a phrase we finally notice because we read the verse in a new light, or the spirit knows we are finally ready to take in a new concept and opens it up to us.

There are many examples we could look at, but I particularly love this verse in 1 Nephi chapter 11. This is a verse where an angel is showing Nephi a vision of the future and in it, he’s describing the life of Christ and shows Nephi something about Jesus’ mother. In verse 18 he tells Nephi:

“… Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.”

So obviously this is talking about Mary, the mother of Jesus. But what hit me was, the angel identified something very specific to clarify this to Nephi. He said, “after the manner of the flesh.” Why is that? Because he knows that Jesus also has a mother after the manner of the spirit and this verse is the one place I’ve found where our Heavenly Mother is referred to so openly.

I encourage you to read slower and when something doesn’t make sense, or it seems that something’s very obvious, read it again and see if there’s another way to read it, another way to take it. Nephi taught with great plainness. It’s not a typo. The scriptures really mean what they say.

Try and record all the cool insights you get without any restrictions.

Scripture Study Technique #5 – Macro-Reading

Aren’t telescopes awesome? The universe is so vast and amazing, and the images we get through telescopes have opened our minds up to so much beauty that’s out there.

I’m Oak Norton with and this is technique number 5, macro-reading.

Opposite to our last technique, reading fast can also be beneficial at times. This is where skimming and skipping come in which was mentioned at the beginning of this series. Going fast over a story which might span multiple chapters, you can record the major things that happened as part of a macro overview of the story and then look for parallels to other principles.

For example, Nephi’s journey to the promised land can be seen as a macro view of our lives. Here’s one way of viewing the story of Nephi’s journey as shared in a podcast by retired CES instructor Mike Stroud. And you’re probably familiar with the story but when the family left Jerusalem we might look at that as their premortal life.

The 3 days journey into the wilderness could be seen as passing through the veil and descending into mortality.

The wilderness itself would be the mortal experience in the Telestial world.

When they had to return to Jerusalem for the brass plates, that would be led by the Holy Ghost to obtain heavenly knowledge.

They then took 8 years to get from Jerusalem to Bountiful, which is like waiting till you’re 8 years old for baptism to cross the waters.

Their ship was a symbol of the atonement to pass over dangerous waters and the Lord directed their course over the large waters that separated them from the promised land.

The promised land is the destination like arriving in heaven in the Celestial kingdom.

Pretty cool huh? Or you can just chalk that up to being a very clever coincidence by the author…

Well Scripture Notes makes it easy to catalog your findings and create notes to store this kind of discovery. Check it out today at Till next time.

There are many more to come. Please share any of your favorite scripture study techniques in the comments below and please share these videos with others as you see fit.

Share this:

About the Author

God, family, country, scriptures, soccer, Sanderson, disc golf, dessert, development. These are a few of my favorite things. :) - Oak Norton

%d bloggers like this: