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?
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.
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.
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.
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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