Our scripture reading as a family is slow. Very slow. Most nights we get through two verses. Why so few? Because I really want my school-age children (presently aged 9 and 6) to get something out of them. (We just finished watching the children scripture videos – but, more on that later) and so, now that they can both read, we began at 1 Nephi. Tonight, we read 1 Nephi 2: 9-10 (Yes, I know, we’ve come so far! 😉 )
We began with one child reading, and dramatically yelling out – “I don’t understand ONE word of that!”
To which I calmly replied, “Do you understand the word, river?”
“Okay, let’s start there.”
We discussed what Lehi wanted Laman to be like –
And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!
What does a river do? (It runs constantly.)
She didn’t know, so we talked about who the Fountain of Righteousness could symbolize (The Savior).
How can we constantly run to the Savior?
She was mildly interested. 😉
Then the other child read.
And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!
What does Lehi want Laman to be like? (A valley.)
What three things is a valley like? (firm, steadfast, and immovable).
What does that mean?
At this point, I had my former football playing husband stand up and asked my 6-year-old to try and push him over. Well, that was fun! We tried having each girl, and then the two together try to push Daddy over and when he was in his stance, there was nothing that they could do.
Then I asked what did we need to be immovable in? (Keeping the commandments.)
Now, being immovable in keeping the commandments – that’s hard! We discussed the fact that everyone had commandments that they were steadfast in and other commandments that they were movable in.
My six-year-old wanted to know what commandments are (yikes! but at least she asked! 😉 ) We said that they are the things that God has asked us to do (like keeping the Sabbath Day Holy, paying tithing, keeping the Word of Wisdom, not telling lies, etc).
We each shared something that we needed to work on being more immovable in and then committed as a family to work on it this week.
I bring this up because I had a dear friend ask me how to study the scriptures. I started writing some posts, but then I had a baby, and it’s been hectic since. So, as a start, I will say this – it can become easier to do scripture study if you are consistent and engage everyone in the event.
If you only need to get through a couple of verses, doing it nightly is more manageable, and if you look for things in the scriptures to talk about and ways to “liken” it to yourself and your circumstances (1 Nephi 19:23) it will involve the family in the process.
Here are some thoughts that might help.
- What are the concrete words and ideas in the verse? Maybe to get to the concrete idea you need to read over a few more verses than two, but move to the next one that you can find and begin the discussion there. With little kids do ONE idea and then stop for the night. Older kids can probably do more, unless you’re just getting started (then maybe all they can do is one idea as well.) By ALL means start with that! Don’t mourn the past. Just begin today.
- What questions can I ask that will make my children look into the verse to find the answer? Make them read the words and find the answers (they’ll shout out “pray, read scriptures, go to church, etc.” and act like they know everything already. You need to say, “no, look in the verse!” Directing them back to the specific phrase or idea.) They need to learn the foreign language of the scriptures, so, by directing them back into the verse they have to engage with the phrases. Also, be excited – for example, Who do you think is coming down in the sky? Who could the twelve be that are coming with Him? see 1 Nephi 1: 9-10 .
- What is going on (i.e. who is speaking and why)? Keep the thread of the story – for example, “Remember that Lehi and his family have just left from Jerusalem.”
- Talk about how those verses can apply to you. For example, on the verses about Lehi’s vision (see above 1 Nephi 1:9-10) we discussed dreams. Have you ever had a dream from the Lord? What was it like? How did you know that it was a dream from God and not a regular dream (what’s the difference?) Does everybody have dreams from God (Joel 2:28-29)? Are there other ways that the Lord communicates with us, not only in dreams? etc. That was a REALLY good discussion.
- Remember this should be simple. No handouts, no bells and whistles. I’m serious ladies – no treats, no elaborate displays. Save those for FHE!
Say a simple prayer for help and then trust that the Lord will help you by giving you ideas in the moment (Luke 12:12) of what questions to ask and what ideas to talk about (the idea to have my hubby be steadfast was pure inspiration in the moment!). Trust that what you’re talking about (though simple, and maybe not what you think they need) in the hands of the Lord and the Holy Spirit will be effective in the lives of your children (see James 5:16).
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear about you and your experiences. What do you do when you read as a family? Which strategies work, and which don’t? What is frustrating to you? Have you had a “high five” moment that you want to share? How do you need to modify for young children, older kids, youth, a mixed family with children of all ages?