No More Guilt Over Personal Scripture Study…

scripturesThough meant to be inspiring, there is a verse of scripture in the Book of Mormon that has probably led to more guilt than one would think. It is a favorite, and at the same time kind of a little painful to contemplate:

“Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:3, emphasis added)

It seems to be the word “feast” that is causing the pressure. I was recently with a class of youth and we discussed the difference between a snack, a meal and a feast. We analyzed what made certain foods snacks as opposed to meals as opposed to feasts. Here is what they came up with, right or wrong:

  1. A snack is usually short, involves only one food, and isn’t particularly healthy, especially if repeated for weeks.
  2. A meal usually involved a variety of foods and takes a little bit of time and planning to prepare and consume. It is usually healthy.
  3. A feast usually involves what amounts to several meals. There is a lot of time spent planning and preparing, and you can’t consume the entire feast in one sitting.

Analysis over, I asked them which word best described their daily scripture study…

They’re snacking.

No one in the group felt great about that. So we analyzed what a “scripture study snack” looked like, what a “scripture study meal” looked like, and what a “scripture study feast” looked like. In this analysis was the “ah-ha!” moment for us, and it is something I wish I would’ve noticed years ago. Here’s what we determined, for better or worse:

  • Scripture Study Snack: Usually just consists of reading some verses. Not bad. Maybe a chapter. Nothing more.
  • Scripture Study Meal: Usually consists of reading some verses, and adding one or two components of what is found on the list for “scripture study feast” (which follows)…
  • Scripture Study Feast: Here’s where it gets overwhelming. When you’re in “feast-mode”, you are not only reading scriptures but you’re adding the following components: Study journal, General Conference talks, cross-referencing, pondering, Ensign articles, personal prayer regarding what is being studied, sharing with a friend or family member or social media, an extended amount of time, a Patriarchal Blessing, a related Mormon Message, and the list goes on.

The problem lies in the fact that no one can include everything on the “feast” list each day. Or almost on any day. That kind of scripture study would last well over an hour, and I don’t have that kind of time on a regular basis. Not many people do. The result? No one can “feast upon the words of Christ”…how discouraging.

Then it hit me. No one can actually have a physical feast everyday. Maybe Thanksgiving or Christmas, but not normally. What normally happens in our home is that we have good, healthy meals everyday. The key is that if you take all of the daily meals into account at the end of the week, our family has had a feast over the course of the week.

The same may be true for scripture study. Rather than trying to feast every single day, I’m going to focus on limiting the amount of times I “snack” on the scriptures and put my effort into having a good, healthy scripture study “meal” each day. At the end of the week I should be able to look back and see that I have, over the course of the week, “feasted upon the words of Christ”.

Here’s how it might work (this is made-up…there are a variety of ways this could look):

  • Sunday: I study a chapter in the New Testament as well as my Patriarchal Blessing. Because I have a little more time, I also read a conference talk. I write a few ideas in the journal. I may spend some time in Preach My Gospel as well.
  • Monday: Along with the New Testament, I cross-referenced some verses to the Book of Mormon and thought about those connections. I record a few thoughts in the journal.
  • Tuesday: I spend some time in the scriptures, but find one particular verse I love. I look up some definitions of  word in there that interests me and I share what I find on Twitter.
  • Wednesday: I watch a Mormon Message that contains references to a number of scriptures. I look those up, mark them, and ponder the connection between what I’ve learned in the Mormon Message (and the accompanying scriptures) and my life and actions. I record a thought or two in the journal.
  • Thursday: I study a number of conference talks because I have a little extra time. I also study one chapter in the Book of Mormon.
  • Friday: Friday is busier than normal and I find myself only reading a few verses that evening before bed. That is probably a “snack”, but I’m allowed a few snacks here and there.
  • Saturday: I have time for a couple chapters in the Book of Mormon and I follow a number of cross-references into other books of scripture. I also study the First Presidency Message in the Ensign and mark a number of the scriptures that are cited in the article.

Now it is Sunday again. I look back over my week and realize I have really experienced a good week of scripture study meals as opposed to just snacking throughout the week. I think I’ve “feasted” upon the word over the course of the week. I will hopefully have a similar week next week, while changing up some of the study methods I use.

Rather than feel frustrated or discouraged at our efforts to “feast upon the words of Christ” everyday, we should look for ways to have effect scripture study each day and then look at the entire week to see how we’ve done. There really is a way to “feast upon the words of Christ” and allow Him to prompt, inspire, and direct me through His Spirit.

Be encouraging…

BJM

These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...
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14 thoughts on “No More Guilt Over Personal Scripture Study…

  1. Anthony in Minneapolis

    The “little bit each day” approach reminds me of Elder Bednar’s talk from a few years ago in which he says that our daily prayers add up over a lifetime and ultimately fulfill the command to “pray always.” The same probably holds true for feasting on the word a little each day.

    I’ve found another helpful thing is to have a verse or two transcribed in the notes section of my phone so I can pull it up when I have a second during the day to read and reflect a little.

    Reply
    1. BJM Post author

      Anthony…I love that idea from Elder Bednar! Great insight. I spent some time on your blog this evening a love it!! Well done!

      Reply
  2. Lisa Moncur

    THANK YOU. I have felt guilt my WHOLE LIFE because I don’t “feast” every day on the scriptures, but now this makes SO MUCH SENSE! Thanks for this, I had my own little “ah ha!” moment when I was reading about you and your students’ “ah ha!” moments!

    Reply
  3. mommick

    This is one of my personal favorites from your posts. Definitely meant to lift us spiritually and to help us be kinder to ourselves while we make a plan that can really happen. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Christy Wanlass

    Thanks so much for sharing this insight… it was just what I needed to jumpstart my efforts into a little bit higher gear. I’m definitely more of a “snacker” but I want to be better! 🙂

    Reply
  5. jackdale76

    Nice post.
    While I would never discourage someone from being immersed in the written scriptures, Nephi does not speak about the scriptures here.
    The “words of Christ” is personal revelation from the Holy Ghost which will tell you all things that you should do. Nephi encourages to “feast upon” our personal revelation by praying always and not fainting (not getting tired of seeking personal revelation our whole life).

    Reply
    1. BJM Post author

      I believe you are correct. That does seem to be Nephi’s intent. I was following the pattern set by some prophets in lumping all of the words of Christ, scriptures included, into one. An example would be Elder Christofferson’s April 2010 address where he cites 2 Ne. 32:3 while teaching the importance of scripture study. I should’ve made that more clear. 🙂
      Brian

      Reply
      1. jackdale76

        Also, one of the definitions of the verb “feast” in webster’s dict is “to be highly gratified or delighted”. IMHO, Nephi is saying “delight in your personal revelation and seek it continually”.

  6. Cynthia

    Thank you for your post Brother Mick! Trying to be perfect is overwhelming, but when we change our perspectives things aren’t as hard as we thought they were. Thank you for a new perspective on scripture study!

    Reply
  7. Judith Kramer

    I’m not sure how I found this link, but I’m glad I did. I loved the content and organization of this article. I’m teaching this same thing in Sharing Time in Primary Sunday, and this has been helpful.

    Reply
  8. Howard Russell

    Nice post! I never had thought of it that way, and it seems appropriate – though I always want to spend more time in the scriptures – but busy, busy. We are also encouraged to always remember Jesus, and to Ponder the scriptures. I have also found it helpful and fun to try to memorize the Scripture Mastery scriptures and other content. We came up with a currently free iOS App, called Pondernaut, that helps with this. I also use an app called scripturetyper too (free for the basic version – though I spent the money to go pro version – download at scripturetyper.com ). Thus, you can have some easy-to-carry activity geared toward pondering, memorizing and remembering Christ throughout the day. Take care, and thank you!

    Reply

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