I've always loved the scriptures – but I've often struggled to find methods of scripture study that really work for me. I've gone through periods where I've delved into the scriptures by topic, times where I've read different standard works from beginning to end and phases where I've just opened the scriptures and read whatever caught my eye. I've “feasted” on the scriptures at times (like when I was a missionary and had dedicated scripture study time each morning or when I used to ride the train to work and had a ½ hour to read during the commute) and I've “snacked” on the scriptures other times in my life (like when I had 5 preschoolers including two newborns and could barely keep my eyes open to read a verse or two every few days). But until lately, I never really hit on anything that consistently made me look forward to scripture reading.
As I talked to my friend April one day, the topic of scripture study came up. She talked about the scriptures with an excitement and animation that I hadn't seen before. Her deep love for the scriptures shown threw as she talked about how much she uses them to really guide her life. As I listened to April, I realized my relationship with the scriptures wasn't nearly as deep and meaningful as I'd like it to be. I asked her a little more about HOW she read the scriptures – realizing that my methods were pretty stale and that I needed to freshen things up a bit. April explained that she liked to read the scriptures looking for specific inspiration and answers the Lord wanted to give her that day. She said she was currently reading the Book of Mormon specifically looking for ways she could be a better mother. At first, her idea seemed a little weird to me. Other than that scripture about the mothers of the Stripling Warriors, were there any scriptures in the whole Book of Mormon about motherhood? April explained that she'd found that there's advice and answers for just about anything in the scriptures if you read them prayerfully and with an open mind.
We've all been told we should “liken the scriptures” unto ourselves, that we should seek out personal revelation through the words of God in the scriptures. But do we really search the scriptures for personal answers? As we deal with the daily dilemas of our lives, do we look in the “instruction book” of the scriptures as often as we should? When we do read the scriptures, do we just sort of plow on through, filling our daily quota of a number of minutes or a number of pages? Or do we earnestly look for the personalized messages the Lord wants to convey to us that day?
My little talk with April left me with a desire to truly fall in love with the scriptures. It caused me to shift my paradigm of scripture study and to strive to really use the scriptures as a conduit for the Lord's personal messages to me. I found that if I would kneel and pray before reading the scriptures, asking the Lord to tell me what He wanted to tell me that day as I read the scriptures, I was able to find a message from Him every day – yes EVERY DAY. I found that by reading until I got my message from the Lord for the day rather than reading a certain number of minutes or pages made my reading much less routine and much more meaningful. I also found that if I WROTE DOWN the little nudges and promptings I received in a little book that I keep with my scriptures, it helped to solidify what I was receiving.
Since adopting this new method of scriptures reading – pray, read until I find something, write it down – I feel so much more open to inspiration. Sometimes I find big answers to things that are on my mind as I read the scriptures. Sometimes I find simple reminders of things I know but haven't been conscientious about lately. Sometimes I find a pat on the back. Sometimes a find a great story that will help me explain something important to my children. Often I get a message that helps me see how I can be a better friend, sister, daughter or wife. And surprise, surprise, very often, I find messages about how to mother my children. The scriptures are actually full of advice and help for mothers - as well as advice that is tailored to every role we need help with in our lives!