• Scripture Study Should be Work

    by  • April 15, 2013 • Greek, Hebrew, Study Resources, Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    First a few thoughts from a few of the great scriptorians of our age:

    “Search the revelations of God; study the prophecies, and rejoice that God grants unto the world Seers and Prophets. They are they who saw the mysteries of godliness… Fellow sojourners upon earth, it is your privilege to purify yourselves, and know for yourselves. Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Joseph Fielding Smith ed. Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith. pp. 12-13)

    “For His own reasons, the Lord provides answers to some questions, with pieces placed here and there throughout the scriptures. We are to find them; we are to earn them. In that way sacred things are hidden from the insincere.” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Mystery of Life,” General Conference, Oct 1983 – emphasis in the original)

    “Those who delve into the scriptural library, however, find that to understand requires more than casual reading or perusal—there must be concentrated study” (Howard W. Hunter,  “Reading the Scriptures ,” General Conference. Oct. 1979)

    “It is a paradox that men will gladly devote time every day for many years to learn a science or an art; yet will expect to win a knowledge of the gospel, which comprehends all sciences and arts, through perfunctory glances at books or occasional listening to sermons.  The gospel should be studied more intensively than any school or college subject.  They who pass opinion on the gospel without having given it intimate and careful study are not lovers of truth, and their opinions are worthless.”  (James A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 16-17

    Give the Lord equal time. Give Him His due share of your thoughts, your time, your talent, and your attention. I know that you’re all very busy with school and work and social responsibilities. This is a critical time in your lives when you are establishing a foundation for your families and your careers. There are many demands for your attention, and your time is limited by a wide variety of constraints. But as you learn to manage your time, be sure that you give the Lord His portion. (Russell M. Ballard, “When Shall These Things Be?BYU Devotional, March 12, 1996)

    In [William] Tyndale’s day, scriptural ignorance abounded because people lacked access to the Bible, especially in a language they could understand. Today the Bible and other scripture are readily at hand, yet there is a growing scriptural illiteracy because people will not open the books… Consider the magnitude of our blessing to have the Holy Bible and some 900 additional pages of scripture, including the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Then consider that, in addition, the words of prophets spoken as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in settings such as this, which the Lord calls scripture (see D&C 68:2–4), flow to us almost constantly by television, radio, Internet, satellite, CD, DVD, and in print. I suppose that never in history has a people been blessed with such a quantity of holy writ. And not only that, but every man, woman, and child may possess and study his or her own personal copy of these sacred texts, most in his or her own language. How incredible such a thing would have seemed to the people of William Tyndale’s day and to the Saints of earlier dispensations! Surely with this blessing the Lord is telling us that our need for constant recourse to the scriptures is greater than in any previous time. (D. Todd Christofferson. “The Blessing of Scripture.” General Conference. April 2010)

    “Our humility and our faith that invite spiritual gifts are increased by our reading, studying, and pondering the scriptures. We have all heard those words. Yet we may read a few lines or pages of scripture every day and hope that will be enough. But reading, studying, and pondering are not the same. We read words and we may get ideas. We study and we may discover patterns and connections in scripture. But when we ponder, we invite revelation by the Spirit. Pondering, to me, is the thinking and the praying I do after reading and studying in the scriptures carefully.” (Henry B. Eyring, “Serve with the Spirit“, General Conference, Oct. 2010)


    Scripture study involves four elements: reading, study, pondering, and prayer. Scripture study is not complete without all four.  In the quote above, Elder Eyring combines and conflates pondering with prayer, but I have to say for me they are two different actions. One can easily lead into the other, but they are definitely distinct. I have learned scripture study is not as effective when these components get out of balance.  The spiritual pay off is not as great, if it is there at all.

    Too much study, not enough reading, prayer, and / or pondering easily lead to a spiritual vacuum. “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7)

    Conversely, too much prayer and not enough reading, study, and / or pondering can be equally fruitless. “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind.”  (D&C 9:7-8)

    Jacob, the brother of Nephi, agreed with me that pondering was separate and distinct from prayer, and was of limited value by itself. “AND now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way.  But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?…  And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing.  For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray.” (2 Nephi 32:1,8)

    During his earthly ministry Christ criticized the Jews for reading without comprehension (Mark 12:10,26; Luke 6:3). Later Philip met an Ethiopian reading the words of the prophet Isaiah, “And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:30-31). The Lord Himself said reading is insufficient without searching and study (3 Nephi 10:14), and Moroni exhorted us to ponder and pray with our reading. (Moroni 10:3-4)

    Scripture study is work. It is serious business, not to be undertaken lightly. We live in a day when the words of the Lord are esteemed as naught, worthless and of no value (Moses 1:41). Scripture study may be work, but it is not a burden. It requires effort, but it is not a chore, it is a privilege. We are set apart from the world, a peculiar people. Like Job we can say “I have esteemed the words of [the Lord’s] mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12)

    “He who reads it [sacred scripture] oftenest will like it best, and he who is acquainted with it, will know the hand [of God] wherever he can see it.” (Joseph Smith. History of the Church, 2:14)


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