We know that reading and studying the scriptures is fundamental to living the gospel. A previous bishop of ours used to call the scriptures “love letters from God.” So why on earth don’t we read them more consistently? It should be a non-negotiable for a disciple of Christ.
Here are three common reasons I’ve heard—and given myself—over the years for not reading scriptures regularly, followed by three solutions for getting them to be part of your daily life.
1. I Don’t Have Time to Read the Scriptures
If you catch yourself saying that you don’t have time to read the scriptures, think for a moment what you do have time to do. Do you have time to watch television, play golf, crochet, scrapbook, scroll Facebook, go clothes shopping, or fill in the blank? Of course you have time for those things because you really like to do them.
Try this: Set a goal, starting today, to read just one verse. How long will that take you? It will take 10 to 20 seconds tops. That’s it. Open them up and read only one verse. Then tomorrow, read two verses. The next day, read three. If you keep this up for a week, adding just one verse per day, you’ll find momentum and you likely won’t be able to stop. You’ll get engaged and curious and just keep reading.
2. I Don’t Understand the Scriptures
This is one reason I’ve heard a lot and felt myself. It can be discouraging, I know, to read and not understand what you are reading. It’s not very motivating. But there is a simple solution, though it takes some effort.
Try this: Remember when Nephi asked his older brothers if they understood the scriptures? What was his advice? “If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask [the Lord] in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping [His] commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you” (1 Nephi 15:11; emphasis added.) Ask the Lord as you read a passage, “What does this mean?” then reread it several times. Then wait for an hour, or a day, or a month. Wait in faith and listen. The Lord is true to His word. He will not neglect a righteous prayer, but He often waits for our respectful attention.
3. I Don’t Like Reading the Scriptures
This is the toughest of the three. If you don’t like reading the scriptures, it’s probably because there is something that isn’t right in your life. If that statement just made you feel defensive or angry, that’s an even stronger indicator that something is amiss.
Look, I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but if you don’t like reading the words of your Heavenly Father, there is a reason why. Or maybe the real reason is you don’t like reading the scriptures because you are not friends with them. You aren’t well acquainted.
Try this: If it is clear to you why you don’t feel like reading the scriptures, I’d suggest that you sit down with your bishop or branch president to discuss it. If it is not clear, get out a blank piece of paper and a pen and start writing, “I don’t like reading the scriptures because. . . .” This will help thoughts and feelings bubble up to the surface so you can discover and deal with them. Circle the sentences or phrases that resonate with you, then take action. Resolving smoldering issues will help you get back on track. Maybe I’ve oversimplified things, but those are the basic steps.
There are other reasons, to be sure, that you and I don’t read the scriptures, such as not making scripture reading a priority or simply forgetting to do it. But there are many positive reasons to try and change, not the least of which is this habit of reading the scriptures daily will save your spiritual neck. Believe me, we’ve got to get this one figured out if we want to survive the last days.
I’ll close with a bit of scripture-reading inspiration from the Psalms.
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. (Psalms 19:7–11.)
P.S. You might also enjoy this post: “Scripture Marking Success.”