Ordinarily, I tend to be the reader that remembers, rather than the reader that takes notes to remember. But in scripture study, recently I was asked to use a study journal. At first it’s tedious and difficult if you’ve never done it. Ultimately, you will find that keeping notes on particular scriptures is helpful in remembering the ideas in different chapters and verses. The greatest benefit of a scripture study journal is the ability to reference the manifestations of the spirit later on.
Ideally, there are some core principles to adhere to, in order to get the most effective use of an lds study journal (or any scripture study journal for that matter).
1. Use your scripture study journal prayerfully.
Pray before you study the scriptures; pray for the spirit to guide you and to be present.
2. Write down what comes to you, without being selective.
Sometimes the best review comes from discovering the hidden gems that only come at the time you are reading, or are being led by the spirit of God.
3. Be specific.
Write down details and be comprehensive so that you understand the context you were experiencing when you recall your notes later.
4. Be personal.
Write down things that make sense to you specifically, in your life, for your family and with your own personality.
5. Go slower than you think you should.
If you only read a single chapter and spend more time reflecting and writing about it than you did reading, it will likely be infinitely more valuable than if you had read 10 chapters and didn’t do anything to support the reading.
6. Reflect on your writings often.
Remember to go back and look at what you wrote and how it affected you. Work towards new understanding and look
for additional insight. Peel back the layers of the onion as it were. Add new commentary to continue to build your LDS study journal.
7. Go back and add to your journal as you read and re-read the scriptures.
Add new scriptural insight. Add new scripture references. Add additional writing for new, previously “undiscovered” scriptures.
8. Read Daily.
Even if it’s only half of a chapter and 10 minutes of writing, do what you can to continue to make reading the scriptures a daily habit. It’s the best type of habit to have: to be able to live in God’s Holy Scriptures and the words of the Holy Prophets.
These 8 concepts can help to add some structure to the daily scripture reading you’re probably already doing.
What’s important is that you try your best to maximize the future value of the reading you will do each day.
What does that mean?
Make sure that you are extrapolating the most valuable things you can for use in your life, by identifying the things you need to use. To record these things will ultimately provide you with an incredible insight to how your development, well, developed. When you look back over time, you will be able to understand your own spiritual growth and the development of such precious and tangible testimony and understanding.
Additionally, you’d be surprised how much more alive the scriptures can become, as you add your own personal connections and insights.
I try to put myself in the point of view of the different players in the verses I am reading as well.
That is: If the prophet Jacob is talking to sinners and the righteous at the same time in the same place, I would put myself into the position of Jacob, trying to understand why he was saying what he was, and how he must have felt to be saying it in that time at that place. I also try to put myself in the position of the sinners (which is unfortunately much easier than it should be). I want to know what they must have been thinking and how this might have affected them. I would be trying to understand it from the righteous people’s perspective as well. Was this testimony building? Faith building? Was there additional insight to their own specific lives? But I also try to put myself within reach of how God the Father and His Son were feeling, how they were positioned relative to this particular moment in earthly history. Was there a specific motivation or goal in mind aside from the obvious? Did God speak directly to these people at this moment? What would God the Father and Jesus Christ have me learn about this particular set of scriptures? How would they hope I would take the Holy Scriptures into my life at this moment, despite the teachings being from so long ago?
It is through this type of perspective that one can gain the best possible insight. Remember that nothing in the great plan of our Heavenly Father is one dimensional. Each facet of the Gospel, each part of the Plan of Salvation is multi-layered and applicable infinitely.
So let’s use that specific scenario to take a look at how an LDS study journal entry might look (using part of Jacob Chapter 1 and 2):
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