When I was a little boy I was given a small Bible. If I remember correctly, it was only the New Testament. As I read I was drawn to 1 Corinthians 13, which is about charity, and, even as a child, I knew that for me that chapter was about the family I would someday have. Years later, before I was married, I received a patriarchal blessing. In that blessing the patriarch described the feeling that would someday be in my home. He described exactly what I had felt years before when I read 1 Corinthians 13, and I knew that the scriptures were a way that God speaks to me.
Since my needs have changed over my lifetime, God has communicated to me different things at different times. He has used the scriptures to counsel me about my needs, my situation, and my life. But I learned that I must go to the scriptures in order to find that counsel.
Sometimes I go to the scriptures for doctrine. Sometimes I go to the scriptures for instruction. I often go to the scriptures with the questions “What would God have me do?” or “What would He have me feel?” Invariably I find new ideas and thoughts I have never had before, and I receive inspiration, instruction, and answers to my questions that benefit me personally.
Here are some of the things I have learned about effective scripture study and the ways scripture study can benefit you personally.
Make scripture study a priority.
The only way I can be sure that my busy schedule doesn’t crowd out scripture study is to use a regular time to study the scriptures. I have found that the beginning and the end of the day work well for me. Those are times I can usually control. I established that pattern when I was a boy, and it allowed me to read the Book of Mormon many times before I was 18.
When I am in situations where I break out of that pattern, it’s hard on me. I’m so used to regular scripture study that I miss it if I find I can’t fit it in my day. It’s like food—I have to have it! I usually don’t miss a regular meal, and I don’t miss regular scripture study
The scriptures can teach what to do.
When I became an Apostle, Elder Richard G. Scott suggested I buy an inexpensive set of scriptures and mark the insights and revelations gained in my new calling. So I did, but I also went further. I asked Heavenly Father what He would have me do as an Apostle. I wrote down what I felt His answers were. I typed, color coded, and pasted those answers in the front of my scriptures. For example, the first one was “I am to be a witness that Christ is the Son of God.” Then I read my scriptures looking for ideas that taught me how to witness that Christ is the Son of God. Every time I came to something, I marked it in blue. Soon I developed my own topical guide around what I thought the Lord wanted me to do. I developed a clear understanding of what God wanted me to do as His Apostle.