The Number One Way to Deepen Your Scripture Study

June 26, 2016

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Ask and ye shall receive.

Our last “Grow Your Faith” post, on 15 Minutes to Spiritual Centeredness, prompted a series of questions and comments about HOW to study the scriptures.  Thank you for your soul-searching and thoughtful replies!  Realizing that many of us are in the same boat, we want to address your FAQ’s here on the blog, with a follow-up on HOW to get more out of your scripture study.

The Savior said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20). I don’t know about you, but this invitation lights up my mind with possibilities.  I feel wonder-struck at the thought of the Lord, the author of my salvation, just waiting for me to open the door to Him. The question is, how do we move from the poetic invitation extended in the book of Revelation, to an actual conversation with the Lord in our lives?

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Richard G. Scott proposed, “If you want God to talk to you, read your scriptures”.

Could it really be that simple? Do we really believe that? Do we really expect that when we read our scriptures the Lord, the Creator of the universe, is speaking to us?

He has said as much, so it must be true.

How do we go from just reading the scriptures, to actually feeling like we are having a discussion with the Lord? Following are some suggestions to get started:


1. Realize that the discussion has to be led by you. The Lord will not force any man to heaven. That means that we need to be the initiators.  He stands at the ready. Therefore, you are the limiting factor.

2. Ask yourself what you want the Lord to speak to you about. Like Alice seeking advice from the Cheshire Cat, no one else can give you directions if you don’t know where you want to go.  So, do some inner-searching. 

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What are you longing for in your life? What changes do you know you need to make but are avoiding? What are you afraid you’re not strong enough to do?  We probably all have some powerful questions, what we need now is to open up to the realization that the Lord is within speaking distance.

Your questions may be specific and finite; i.e. you’re trying to decide if you should accept a job offer and you’re seeking divine counsel.  Or they may be broad and reaching; i.e. you want know how to be a more patient parent. Your questions may be doctrinal; i.e. you want to understand why grace without works is dead.  There is NO SUCH THING as a dumb question.  Have faith that God will meet you wherever you’re at.

In the words of a wise man, “We live in a day of rationalization; people want to discount spiritual experiences, and they deny themselves revelation. What happened to the seeking mind, the open mind, the inquiring mind—one seeking to know truth and knowledge? We tend to rely on our own rational powers. The Lord wants us to be sensitive to the Spirit.” (Ronald T. Halverson, “I Stand at the Door, and Knock” NOVEMBER 2004 Ensign)

That is the number-one thing we each need to improve our scripture study. We need to come to our scripture study truly seeking. The Master Teacher cannot resist an eager student. Remember, He’s just WAITING for us to open the symbolic door, to ask so that He can bless us with His presence in our lives and in our homes. Our studies will be enriched as our purpose becomes definitive.

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3. Put it on paper. I often try to meditate with a pen in hand, brainstorming over my swirl of goals and concerns. As I empty my muddled thoughts onto paper, my priorities become clearer. I like to put it all in one place so I can see where I’m at. It helps me be deliberate about my conversation with God.

One good tool is a scripture study journal. Your study journal is a place to record what you’re seeking through your study. You may begin by writing down a question, then record your findings as you study and pray. A journal is a form of meditation. It is a form of planning and a type of council between you and the Lord.

Do whatever works for you to organize your thoughts.

4.  Start where you’re at. You don’t have to be a great scripture scholar. Just come to the Lord as you are. The most effective way to get more out of your scripture study is to entreat Him, pray fervently. Pour out your heart and your questions in prayer. It’s as simple as identifying your questions, bringing them before the Lord in prayer, and opening up your scriptures to read.

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5. If striking revelation doesn’t come immediately, don’t get discouraged, just keep at it.  If you feel like you’re still not getting enough out of your study, it may be that you need to put in more time and consistency. 

“I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Presidents of the Church, 67.)  You will inevitably find answers as you nurture your spirituality.

Make your faith real and alive again. Find that spark of enthusiasm you’ve been missing by asking specific questions. In order to find and receive, we must seek and ask.

The Lord has promised us, “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:61.)

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You can download these free bookmark by clicking on the link below. Enjoy!

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8 Comments

  • Reply Janvier June 27, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Really great article. Just what I needed. Thank you!

  • Reply Kim June 28, 2016 at 8:46 am

    This is a wonderful post. It simplifies scripture study. Just what I needed.

  • Reply Kiki June 30, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    The mental image that has been created by many of Christ knocking on the door of our heart’s is moving. But it’s not accurate and it comes at a high theological cost. The door in Revelation 3:20 was not a vague spiritual metaphor—it was a specific door. He was specifically speaking to the Laodicia church. I encourage readers to examine Revelation 3:14-22 to see this. The context of Revelation 3:20 is Christ’s letter to the church at Laodicea—also known as the lukewarm church. They did not openly reject Christ, but neither did they exhibit any spiritual zeal or authentic love for God or His Word, the Bible They professed to know Christ, but He had no place in their assembly. They didn’t believe in the excellence, INERRANCY, and sufficiency of the Bible. In the context of Revelation 3, then, Christ was standing at the door of the Laodicean church, eager to re-enter the congregation through the genuine repentance and salvation of its members. When it comes to applying and interpreting the Bible, the details matter. We bring the authority of the Bible only inasmuch as we handle it accurately. We have a responsibility to the Lord and to the world to proclaim the excellence, inerrancy, and sufficiency of the Bible. And we can’t fulfill that responsibility if we’re assigning our own meaning to God’s immutable truth by turning a single verse into what we want it to be.

    Put simply, Christ isn’t coming to us with a pleading invitation on our doorstep. Jesus doesn’t need to beg or badger anyone by knocking on our door (John 6:44, 65, Ephesians 2:8-9).

    I thank God that Jesus was never waiting for me to let Him in, for if He had been, He still would be. I would never have let him in. And this is should be an obvious tip-off to the error of the popular interpretation of verse 20: nowhere in Scripture is there any hint that Christ needs our acceptance. No, it is we who need to be made acceptable to God. My salvation was never dependent on me accepting Him, but on Him making me acceptable to the Father. That is what the gospel is all about. It is what Christ accomplished on the cross.

    • Reply Johanna July 7, 2016 at 9:04 am

      Kiki,
      Thank you for commenting on the post and joining the conversation. It’s refreshing to find someone who is ardent with religious conviction, especially in a world increasingly uninterested in spiritual learning.
      I agree with your assertion that Christ doesn’t need our acceptance. Dieter Uchtdorf said it well, “His power and glory are not diminished should we disregard, deny, or even defile His name. His influence and dominion extend through time and space independent of our acceptance, approval, or admiration.”
      However, I wholeheartedly believe that Christ does come to us with a pleading invitation. The scriptures are full of loving, eloquent, even beseeching invitations for us to accept Christ— not because He needs us, but because WE need Him. We must first choose to accept Christ in order for Him to make us acceptable to our Heavenly Father. Christ does not force himself on us, if so, He would rob us of our chance to exercise faith (Helaman 14:30-31, 2 Nephi 10:23-24). Without the opportunity to accept Christ, how could anyone be successful in the test of life?
      I sense in you a kindred devotion to the Lord that warms my heart. I too am grateful for my Savior and a loving Father in Heaven. I’m grateful for the scriptures and the chance to discuss and learn from them. And, I’m glad to have the Small Seed as a space to think about the things that draw us together as believers. I hope we can continue to come together to discuss the things we’re passionate about and support one another in our desire to follow Jesus Christ.
      -Johanna

      • Reply Kiki July 16, 2016 at 2:37 pm

        Thank you taking the time to respond. I do believe in Revelation 3:20 that the door on which Christ is knocking is to the Laodicean church, an apostate church. Christ was outside this apostate church and wanted to come in—The church is nominally Christian, but Christ Himself has been locked out. Rather than turn His back on them, He knocks, seeking someone to acknowledge the church’s need and open the door. If they would repent, Jesus would come in and take His rightful place in the church.

        However, even though I think this verse in Revelation is specifically to the Laodicean church I do think that God does knock on the door of an individual’s heart and invites that person to have a saving relationship with Him. I just don’t think it is a begging, pleading invitation. God is a very inviting God and many verses in the Bible show His innumerable invitations for salvation. Matthew 11:28 shows one of many invitations given by our Lord. Christ came into the world to save sinners. He came to call men to come to Him. He came to save men. And He was constantly giving invitations. Whether you look at the beginning of the New Testament or the end of the New Testament, it is always the same; the Lord is inviting people to come to Him. He invites us and then He waits for people to see His glory, to admit that they are lost without Him, to say yes to His love, to receive His forgiveness, to turn away from sin. While we wait for His second coming, He waits for repentance. He doesn’t beg or plead for us to come to Him, but he does patiently wait. The Lord is waiting to have a relationship with those He loves. He made the first move when He came as baby Jesus and the sacrificial Lamb. Now He waits for us to welcome Him into our lives as Savior and Lord. I am so glad that the Lord waited on me. As Peter wrote: “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation” (2 Peter 3:15). God waited four thousand years, until the fullness of time, before He sent His Son. Because I have a God who waits He makes Himself known to me perfectly as the gracious One. I think that God does not need to beg you to come to him, he gives us all the evidence we need and it is up to us to decide to follow him. Have you ever noticed in the Bible how Jesus never, ever begged people to follow him? In Matthew 13:11-15 Jesus, instead of begging when people reject him is actually telling us he did not want the unbelieving people to understand him, that’s why he started speaking in parables. These people refused His invitation to believe he was Messiah. Jesus wants those to come to him willingly. God wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4), but because God is God he knows not everyone will come to a saving faith in Him. Jesus knocks on the door for all of us, he does not beat down the door, beg or force his way in. For those that answer the door Jesus dwells with them, those who tell Jesus to go away will get a silent door (John 4:23).

        Revelation 3:20 speaks, I think, of the whole approach of Christ. He came into the world to reach men and to draw men into fellowship with Himself. He wants to enter your life, my life and so He knocks. He knocks through a sermon. He knocks through a book, through a tape, through a tract. He knocks through the Scripture, through a godly example, through a Christian friend, through a marital problem, through the death of a loved one, through poverty, through loneliness, through pain. He knocks through suffering, or through guilt. But He knocks, and He wants to come in. Christ came into the world to save sinners. He came to call men to come to Him. He came to save men. And He was constantly giving invitations no matter where you look in the New Testament it is always the same; the Lord is inviting people to come to Him, just not in a pleading way.

        You mentioned that the scriptures show Christ giving pleading invitations. Can you point me to those pleading invitations? I’m just not finding any place where I see Christ pleading with people to follow Him. I see where there are many who refused Him (the rich young ruler, Pharisees, etc.) and when those people refused Jesus, He just kept on moving on to make His offer of salvation to others who would respond. It’s not that these people wouldn’t later turn to Him, some may have. The apostle Paul is a perfect example of rejecting Christ to the point of killing believers to then on the road to Damascus encountering Christ and following Him.

        Can you tell me a little about how you came to accept Christ? How old were you, why did you make that decision and what does it mean to you to “accept Christ”?

  • Reply Megan July 2, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you for this post! I love the small seed and all you do to share light and goodness

  • Reply Vicky July 18, 2016 at 8:42 am

    Really great post! I’ve done this and know it works, thank you for putting it into one article, I’ll definitely share it with friends.

  • Reply Adri December 10, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Thank you for the post. Something I’m really working toward….. deepening my study: going from “reading” to “studying”.
    Can you fix the link to the bookmark? Thanks, Adri

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