Wednesday, May 18, 2016

M. Russell Ballard on the blessings of improving scripture study

Elder M. Russell Ballard (1928- ) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985.
"Here are some practical suggestions that I hope will help you derive greater power from your study of the scriptures:
"*If possible, set a consistent time and place to study when you can be alone and undisturbed. Knowing the lifestyle of many young adults, I think it is safe to say that early morning in your apartments is one time you can be both alone and have it quiet.
"*Always have a marking pencil ready as you study. Make notations in the margins. Write cross-references. Make the scriptures yours by marking them.
"*Commit yourself to study for a set amount of time, rather than to just read a chapter or a certain number of pages. Sometimes a single verse or short passage will take the entire time as you think about it and consider what it means for you.
"*Study topically as well as chronologically. Both approaches have merit, but we need to go to the Topical Guide or the index from time to time and read all that the Lord has said on repentance or faith or some other principle.
"*Take time to ponder, reflect, meditate, and pray about what you read. Ask yourselves questions such as 'What can I learn from this passage that will help me come unto Christ and be more like Him?'
"One thing I have learned in life is how frequently the Lord answers our questions and gives us counsel through the scriptures. It is not unusual for one of us in the Quorum of the Twelve to say, 'I saw this teaching more clearly than ever before in this verse of scripture.' Let us then go to the Lord in prayer, pleading for help or answers; and those answers will come as we open the scriptures and begin to study them. Sometimes it is as though a passage hundreds or thousands of years old was dictated specifically to answer our question."
- M. Russell Ballard, "Be Strong in the Lord, and in the Power of His Might," CES fireside, March 3, 2002
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Ballard's suggestions for improving scripture study are valuable and worth pondering for all of us, regardless of how consistent or effective we feel our personal study currently is.
  • Have a consistent time and place to study
  • Mark key passages and make notes
  • Study for a fixed period of time
  • Study both topically and chronologically
  • Take time to ponder and pray about the reading
Each of us can find in that list something that we can try or improve to enhance our experience.

The personal encouragement that we can find answers to questions and challenges in our scripture reading was especially valuable to me.

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