When I was a kid, around maybe age 10 or 11, on a Christmas Eve, my family watched a movie called Empire of the Sun, which was about a boy (played by Christian Bale - Batman) living in China and how he was separated from his parents in a panic while they were trying to flee the country ahead of the Imperial Japanese army. This boy grew up in a prisoner camp without parents. One of his fascinations was airplanes and in particular, the "Cadillac of the Sky" P-51 Mustang. Toward the end of the movie, he is ecstatic about seeing a group of P-51's bomb the Japanese airfield next to the prisoner camp. I still keep goosebumps watching that scene. Ever since then, I've loved WWII airplanes.
Then a few years ago, the church produced a really neat video about a WWII P-51 pilot who was LDS and from Blackfoot, Idaho. In that video he talked about how pilots will experience vertigo and how they have to rely on either a better pilot or their instrumentation to gauge where the sky and ground are; otherwise they would end up crashing in clouds or fog. Life and scripture study are similar. We need to have a proper sense of direction or we will find ourselves being misguided.
Scripture study is like our compass and flying gauges in life. They tell us what to do and how to steer. Therefore, it's important to equip yourself with the best process and tools in this important endeavor.
2 Nephi 2:32 - "feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."
How do you rate your scripture reading / study today?
What can you do to improve your scripture study?
Why do you want to improve your scripture study?
What are you trying to get out of the scriptures?
Ideas and Tips for Improving Scripture Study
Learn to read mindfully - so many times, we treat reading like a check box; read 30 minutes, done. Try to find a time to be awake when you read. Approach reading with real intent.
Be diligent - set aside time to regularly study; make a habit out of it. Turn it into a project. And when one project is done, start a new one.
Find a quiet place where you won't be distracted.
Rephrase what you read - pretend you had to explain what you are reading, to another person or if you were asked to explain a passage to a class. Would you be able to? Could you "explain it to me like I was five?"
Use a dictionary / define words - if you don't know a word, don't assume a definition; look it up.
Use scripture study tools:
- Topical Guide
- Bible Dictionary
- Scripture commentary
- For the Bible, use an NIV version
Ask yourself questions before studying - when you have a desire to search, you are more likely to learn
Make it personal - answers to your questions will make scripture study personal. Also, substituting your name in the place of people in the scriptures helps make it more real.
Reality check - read with critical reasoning. Lots of stuff from the OT and BoM and D&C should be viewed with a reality check (Nephi and Laban, section 132, etc). Use the bulletin board or news headline test (if God told me to cut off some dude's head and I did, would that be OK?) Therefore, use and apply the good, discard the crazy.
Use a journal / take note - very useful, especially when you are preparing a talk or trying to answer a question. Journals and notes help you remember more easily and if you organize it well, they are very useful when you are in a hurry or need to prepare a talk or lesson. Journals and notes help you "cover ground once" rather than trying to re-learn and re-hash the same content over and over again.
Look for lists. Look for patterns. Look for commands and the blessings from obeying those commands.
Use the audio version of the scriptures.
Read what others have studied; share what you have studied (blogs, social media, books, etc). Use on-line resources.
Give students time to look at their scripture study habits and form a plan to improve.
Show students ways I've studied.
Walk students through an example of how they could study (pick a topic, or question and go down the rabbit hole)