Today I had the opportunity to speak at my local church. Below is my talk along with 10 tips to Win at Family Scripture study.
“Because I want the power His word will give to me,
I’m changing how I live, I’m changing what I’ll be.”
While preparing this talk these two lines from a family favorite, Scripture Power, kept coming to mind. As I studied these lines, “Because I want the power His word will give to me, I’m changing how I live, I’m changing what I’ll be” two key action words stuck out to me- power and changing. In fact the words changing are in these two lines twice. “I’m changing how I live, I’m changing what I’ll be.”
THE POWER OF SCRIPTURES
Today I would like to talk more in depth about these two lines starting with, “Because I want the power His word will give to me” My ward family, I bear my testimony that the scripture are powerful. There is a power that comes from reading it.
*“I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1980, 90; or Ensign, May 1980, 67).
The song goes on to say,
“I’ll find the sword of truth in each scripture that I learn.
I’ll take the shield of faith from these pages that I turn.
I’ll wear each vital part of the armor of the Lord,
And fight my daily battles, and win a great reward.”
When we read we get the SWORD OF TRUTH, SHIELD OF FAITH, and the ARMOR of the LORD.” And with this armor you fight your daily battles and WIN the great reward. How could you not want that power?
CHANGE HOW YOU LIVE
So how do you get this power? You have to first change how you live. Your mindset has to change, your daily schedule has to change. Your priorities have to change.
Family scripture study in our home of five active children nearly seems impossible every time we start. Were sitting on our couches and it starts. One child is rocking back and forth, the other is playing with a toy, the other is singing songs, the baby starts crying, two start fighting, you get the picture. And there have been many times I am ready to either throw up my hands or throw something. Obviously I’m exaggerating, but you get the picture.
But as I mentioned before, in order to get this power, we must change from what is comfortable and easy to what may take lots of patience and love. And I will tell you, when we finally get all the children to sit and we read, I bare testimony that a warmth fills my home that we could not have otherwise. And it is powerful.
Have a plan
I would like to suggest a few ideas that your family can do to have successful scripture study. You do not have to do them all. And you may be doing these things already. But if not, remember these ideas may require changes.
- Consider a reasonable amount of time or a specific number of verses, chapters, or pages to read each day. Having that goal will help your family have an expectation and follow through. Do what is right for your family and your season in life. Even a few verses and discussion with a two year old can have an affect.
- Find a time to study the scriptures as a family every day. This is often the hardest part of family scripture study because of varying schedules. But if you have a set time that works for everyone it will greatly increase the odds that scripture study happens and becomes habitual. For our family we read together before bedtime as part of our bedtime routine. We get in PJS, brush our teeth and clean up. Then we read scriptures, pray, and finish with a few pages from Harry Potter.
- Some more suggestions are Take turns reading. And for children who cannot read we’ve always picked a smaller verse and let them repeat us. You can also pick a passage to explain and discuss which can be helpful for younger children.
- You can also research a particular gospel topic together, using the Topical Guide or the Bible Dictionary. Just a few weeks ago Tanner was asked to speak in primary sharing time. To prepare I was able to sit down and teach him how to search out scriptures to add to his talk. Searching the scriptures for a particular topic can help answer questions from your children and teach them how to individually search for better understanding later in life.
- A fun idea is to keep a family notebook for recording questions, goals, or impressions connected with the scripture reading.
- Or when studying as a family, pick a topic together and assign each child to silently read a few scriptures then share his or her favorite.
- You can memorize favorite verses together. This year we decided we would pray about and pick a scripture for our family this year. We hung the scripture in our home and for months we repeated it memorizing it together. Just last Sunday Dane was asked to share a scripture in primary. I completely forgot about picking one before church and remembering at the perfect time, in the middle of sacrament. Thankfully I was relieved to know that Dane had a scripture he could recite at any time. And so he was able to get up and share it in primary from memory. This scripture as I’ve had it memorized has blessed me with strength and reassurance through the year. So I am reminded of how memorizing scriptures blesses families all year long.
- Another idea to help your family is picking a scripture story to study as a family and after reading about it let the children draw their own pictures of the stories. You can even create your own family scripture story book.
- I asked on social media as I was preparing for this talk for ideas that others do for scripture study. And Caitlin Solari who used to be in the ward responded, Another idea is to pick a key word in that chapter. And each time it is read have your children raise their hand as they hear it. Pick a word that is repeated several times. But if there is not one that repeats they’ll just randomly throw the word in as they are reading it. As a family we have done something similar and instead have had our children count how many times the word is said.
- A family tradition in Jason’s family is to leave out a word. These words are not words of deity to preserve the sacredness of those names. But instead our favorite is we might say, “And it came to ____ “ and all the kids would shout “pass”
There are so many ways to search and study the scriptures as a family. These ideas will require change. They’ll be inconvenient, monotonous at times, and may even take large amounts of patience. If you are struggling with family scripture study pray. Pray to know and be inspired what is right for your family. And I know that if you study as a family you will gain this scripture power.
CHANGE WHAT YOU’LL BECOME
The Lord has personally impressed on my mind that if I read scriptures with my children and if I teach them to search the scriptures there will be greater peace in my home. I’d like to finish by sharing a few topics that go along with the last sentence, “I’m changing what I’ll be”.
Remember as you strive as a family there is opposition in all things! You’re going to end up with nights like ours.
There will always be opposition to holding family home evening.6 Regardless, I invite you to find a way around the obstacles and make family home evening a priority—and make fun a key ingredient. – https://www.lds.org/church/leader/devin-g-durrant?lang=eng
If just reading a few verses a day is difficult and more in-depth study seems impossible or if just getting your family to sit down together is a struggle, don’t despair and don’t give up. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled that while no one episode of family scripture study may seem especially memorable or even successful, “our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results.”2
“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.”
“When individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, … other areas of activity will automatically come. Testimonies will increase. Commitment will be strengthened. Families will be fortified. Personal revelation will flow.”
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), “The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 81
President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled: “If you have any doubt about the virtue of family home evening, try it. Gather your children about you, teach them, bear testimony to them, read the scriptures together and have a good time together.”5
President Russell M. Nelson said, “Not only are parents to cling to the word of the Lord, but they have a divine mandate to teach it to their children.”16
Elder L. Tom Perry said, “The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home.”24
“The most important of the Lord’s work that you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home.”—President Harold B. Lee
“Because I want the power His word will give to me,
I’m changing how I live, I’m changing what I’ll be”
I bear testimony that the power in scriptures is real, that if we are willing to change, to become new creatures, we will be changed into a family armed with the sword of truth and shield of faith. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.