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The Importance of Studying the Scriptures

Today I spoke in our ward's sacrament meeting. Here is a copy of my remarks. 😊


Last year I was meeting with one of the youth of your ward family. I asked them how they were doing in reading the scriptures. They replied, “I just don’t see the point.”

I was completely caught off guard. I gave some stupid and I’m sure ineffectual response. Since then, I have not been able to get this exchange out of my head.

Not that I would have been better when I was a teenager. Although I probably would not have been as honest. When I was leaving to serve a mission, the ward I served in made up a plaque for all the missionaries with their favorite scripture on it. So, they asked me to submit my favorite scripture, but I didn’t have one. I also didn’t really see the point of reading the scriptures.

I had one of those “Scripture A Day” flip books. So, I started flipping through it to find my new favorite scripture. I ended up finding one that sounded like it was about missionary work and submitted that.

When I got to the mission field, my Mission President informed me that all missionaries were to memorize Doctrine and Covenants section 4. As I sat down to memorize this section, I discovered that my new favorite scripture was in there.

D&C 4:4 – “For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul”

I then realized that I had submitted the most famous missionary scripture in the church, which I didn’t know, as my favorite scripture. I felt a little stupid.

So, I’m absolutely not pointing fingers.

As I have met with many of you, I often ask the question, “How do you feel you are doing spiritually.” And many of you have responded that you need to do better at studying the scriptures. Which is the answer I would need to give as well. I strive to read the scriptures each day, but I certainly miss some days and am not feasting upon the word (2 Nephi 32:3) as we are counseled in the scriptures.   

This feeling that we as a ward family need to make a greater effort to integrate the word of God into our daily lives has been pressing deeply upon my mind. One quote that has weighed heavily upon me is from President Ezra Taft Benson:

“Often we spend great effort in trying to increase the activity levels in our stakes. We work diligently to raise the percentages of those attending sacrament meetings. We labor to get a higher percentage of our young men on missions. We strive to improve the numbers of those marrying in the temple. All of these are commendable efforts and important to the growth of the kingdom. But when individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, these other areas of activity will automatically come. Testimonies will increase. Commitment will be strengthened. Families will be fortified. Personal revelation will flow.”

President Benson is teaching us that scripture study is the lynchpin to our spirituality. Our willingness to immerse ourselves in the word of God can be a perfectly correlated indicator of our willingness to live the gospel of Jesus.


Because of this, as I have mentioned previously, we as a Ward Council would like to implement a goal for 2024 that we all read the Book of Mormon together. I promise this will lead to many blessings both in our ward family and in your individual lives. Let me share with just a few of the countless prophetic promises we have been given:  

The Savior himself stated that “…whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived…” (JSM 1:37)


The prophet Nephi declared that “…whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them…” [1 Nephi 15:24]


“Without reservation I promise you … regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”


And our Prophet today, Russell M. Nelson promised:

“that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day…”

Our goal is to read the Book of Mormon in 2024. But more importantly, and hopefully, a side product of this, will be that each of us makes the word of God a part of our daily lives. That the scriptures will become a part of what we do and who we are. Where we each get to the point, as Nephi did, that we delight in the scriptures (2 Nephi 4:15). This needs to be the real goal.

Let me take a few minutes to give some possible ideas for making studying the word of God more of a delight in our lives.

As I prepared this message, I came up with a list of 21 ideas to make scripture study more impactful. I’m certain you’re sick of listening to me already, so discussing all 21 seems unwise. I’m going to go with 5.

#1 Start Where You Are

If you have not been actively engaging in scripture study, it may be a mistake to set a goal for tomorrow to read for an hour, listen to three Come Follow Me podcasts, join an online scripture discussion forum, write in a scripture journal, and write a commentary on the book of Isaiah. These are all potentially worthwhile activities, but to go from zero to 100 mph is likely not sustainable.

Instead, set a goal to be one percent better tomorrow than you were today. That might mean just reading 2 or 3 verses to start.  It might mean listening to an audio version of the scriptures on your drive to work. It might mean just listening to a General Conference talk.

One percent better today than we were yesterday. Start where you are, but the key is to not stay where you are.


#2 Consistency is More Important than Mastery

President Thomas S. Monson reminded us that, “Crash courses are not nearly so effective as the day-to-day reading and application of the scriptures in our lives.”

According to a 2009 study in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. And this actually could range anywhere from 18 to 254 days. Developing a pleasurable habit, like eating chocolate for breakfast, for instance, may take a day, while trying to exercise at 5 am will likely take longer. But the lesson is clear. Creating any type of habit takes consistency. As Elder Uchtdorf put it, “patient persistence.”


Sometimes we need to do things for a while because we know we are supposed to. Especially those things that are maybe not immediately enjoyable. The hope is, that eventually, it will turn into something we love. Most people who genuinely enjoy exercising will testify that this is true. Walking, running, lifting weights, are rarely super enjoyable when you first start doing them. But if you stick with it, exercise can become not only rewarding but also enjoyable.

“I am grateful for emphasis on reading the scriptures. I hope that for you this will become something far more enjoyable than a duty; that, rather, it will become a love affair with the word of God. I promise you that as you read, your minds will be enlightened and your spirits will be lifted. At first it may seem tedious, but that will change into a wondrous experience with thoughts and words of things divine.”

#3 Quality over Quantity

I know we’re asking you to read the Book of Mormon within the year. But taking your time in the scriptures is so much more beneficial than trying to get through a certain number of verses, chapters, or pages.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson beautifully said that: 

“…for conversion, you should care more about the amount of time you spend in the scriptures than about the amount you read in that time. I see you sometimes reading a few verses, stopping to ponder them, carefully reading the verses again, and as you think about what they mean, praying for understanding, asking questions in your mind, waiting for spiritual impressions, and writing down the impressions and insights that come so you can remember and learn more. Studying in this way, you may not read a lot of chapters or verses in a half hour, but you will be giving place in your heart for the word of God, and He will be speaking to you.”

#4 Don’t Forget the Real Why of Studying the Scriptures

As I prepared this talk, I came up with a list of 17 specific reasons why studying the scriptures is important. Several of these revolved around the blessing of better knowing and understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ. This of course is important. When I was a full-time missionary, I devoured the scriptures. But the main reason, was because I didn’t want to look like an idiot. But knowing what’s in the scriptures is really only important if it changes us. If the process helps us become more like our Savior.

So, don’t get stressed out because you don’t understand every verse of Isaiah. Don’t beat yourself up if your scripture study is at times a bit superficial. Don’t give up if there are days you don’t want to do it.

If you’ve got your Book of Mormon with you, turn to the Introduction with me. The 6th paragraph starts with “Concerning the record the Prophet Joseph Smith said:”

I’ll read it and you follow along.

“Concerning the record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by reading it, than by any other book.”

Get nearer to God by doing what? Reading the scriptures? No. Hopefully, you caught that  I read that wrong. The prophet did not say we get closer to God by reading the Book of Mormon. Instead, he taught us that we would get closer to God by “abiding by its precepts.” We get closer to God by reading, learning, understanding, applying, and changing.   

If studying the scriptures doesn’t make us a better person, then what’s the point?

#5, My Final Fip, is that you need to Make the Time and Pay the Price

Do you want to have the Spirit in your life? Do you want to receive answers to your prayers? Do you want added strength to endure the challenges of life? Do you want to increase your faith and deepen your conversion? Do you want to feel the peace the gospel brings? Well, this is the way.

We have been promised again and again that word of God will bring the power of God into our lives in a way nothing else can.

In Alma 31:5 we read: “And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else…”


“People who study the scriptures add a dimension to their lives that nobody else gets and that can’t be gained in any way except by studying the scriptures. There’s an increase in faith and a desire to do what’s right and a feeling of inspiration and understanding that can’t come in any other way.”

And if we want this, we need to make the time. We need to put in the work.

Elder Richard G. Scott, with a little bit of fire, exclaimed,

"Don't yield to Satan's lie that you don't have time to study the scriptures.  Choose to take time to study them.  Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media.  You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God.  If so, do it!"

And Elder David A. Bednar reminded us of an important lesson when he said:

“The combination that opens the vault door to hidden scriptural treasures includes a great deal of work—simple, old-fashioned, hard work. A farmer cannot expect to harvest a crop in the fall if he does not properly sow in the spring…. In like manner, we cannot expect to reap a rich scriptural harvest unless we pay the price of regular and diligent study. … We must each learn to open the vault door by applying the principle of work.”


When I was young I had a fascination with fire. My friends and I played with fire more places than I am going to say here. If my kids did some of the things I did with fire as a kid I’d lose my mind. I was so stupid.

On one occasion I had got hold of a pack of matches and was leisurely lighting them in my basement. Eventually, that got old so I started using the matches to light little pieces of paper on fire. This too lost its fascination so I found some of that really thin paper you use to cut out patterns on fabric. As you can imagine, this type of paper went up in flames very quickly. Much quicker than I had anticipated. In my extreme shock, my brilliant 10-year-old mind decided it made sense to fling this quickly igniting paper into the nearby garbage can. Following the laws of physics I apparently did not fully understand, this fire quickly spread from the garbage to the wall, to the carpet, and then to the couch.  Thankfully the fire was eventually extinguished and no one was hurt (And of course, I learned my lesson and never played with fire again 😬).    

Two lessons today. Number one, kids don’t play with fire. I’m looking at you Brian Law. Number two, when we get a fire started it can quickly spread. Metaphorically we can blessed by the same principle.

“There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path.”

I love this! President Benson promises that “the moment you begin a serious study” the blessings will flow. Much like a fire. All we need to do is get it started.


In October of 2021, or prophet gave us all extremely wise counsel when he said, “If you don’t yet love to attend the temple, go more often—not less.”

And if I may take some literary liberties, I am certain we can replace any positive pursuit within this counsel.

If you don’t yet love to go to church, go more often – not less.

If you don’t yet love to minister, go more often – not less.

If you don’t yet love to pray, pray more often – not less.

If you don’t yet love to… Spend time with your kids, exercise, brush your teeth, eat your brussell sprouts. 😊 

If you don’t yet love to study the scriptures. If you don’t yet delight in the scriptures (2 Nephi 4:15). If you are not yet holding fast to the rod of iron (1 Nephi 15:23-24). Read them more – not less.

I cannot plead strongly enough that you strive to make the scriptures a part of your life every day. And I don’t plead for this because I’ve got this figured out. There are days I don’t make time for the scriptures. Sometimes my reading is cursory at best. Sometimes my mind is completely somewhere else and I can’t remember a thing I’ve read. I’ve got my own work to do.

But when I plead for you to start today to make the scriptures a priority it is with a sure testimony that my life is better when I do the same. I am a better Husband, Father, Bishop, and disciple of Jesus Christ (Not necessarily good at any of those things, but better). I promise you the same will happen for you.

In the name of Jesus, Christ, Amen.























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