Yes, this blog is about Primary. But Primary exists to support families to raise their children. Children whose families have regular family scripture study are better prepared to get the most out of Primary, and to feel closer to the Savior by reading His words. There’s power — real power — in reading the scriptures as a family often, daily if possible.
Any family scripture study method I’ve tried over the years only works for awhile, then we need to switch it up — for variety as well as to respond to growing children’s needs as they mature. Nothing works forever!
Maybe your family has had good luck starting in 1 Nephi or Genesis and persevering. If so, I salute you! But chronologically is not the only way to do family scripture study. If you get bogged down in the begats or Isaiah, here’s more scripture study ideas:
* Read your favorite scripture stories. Yes, it’s OK to skip over the instructions to the Levites in animal sacrifices if your family isn’t getting anything out of it. Just read Genesis (action packed!), Ruth, Esther, the 4 gospels, the book of Ether — whatever your favorite stories are — and watch your children enjoy getting acquainted with these ancient heroes and heroines.
* Mark the seminary scripture mastery scriptures (particularly for older children). No, you don’t have to wait until you’re 14. You can get a bookmark of all the scripture mastery scriptures for 50 cents at store.lds.org As a family, you could mark each scripture mastery scripture, and read the chapter in which it appears to get the context. These are among the most quoted scriptures in the Church – foundational scriptures for solid gospel understanding. Children who like to follow along with speakers and look up the references in church talks will find many scriptures already marked, increasing their sense of mastery of the scriptures.
* Read every scripture mentioned in this month’s Friend magazine. This has the double blessing of getting the child into the magazine as well.
* Scripture stickers are a fun way to get into the scriptures. Many LDS outlets sell clear full-color stickers that go right over the verses and give children visuals to go with the dense words. Look for an inexpensive set at, say, deseretbook.com and read and discuss the scriptures as a family as you insert the stickers.
* Today’s needs — think about a situation someone in your family is facing. Then think about a person in the scriptures who faced that too. Lonely, no friends? No one knows better than Moroni what it means to be alone. He wandered alone for over 20 years after everyone he knew was destroyed (see Moroni 1-10). Facing a big decision? Read Ether 2:19-13:6 about the three different answers to prayers the brother of Jared received to his questions: how to breathe in the closed boats (God told him how to solve the problem), having light (God told him to figure it out), and how to steer (short answer – you won’t). Busy? Read about when Jesus was too busy to eat (Mark 3:20 and 6:31) or what I like to call Jesus’s Very Busy Day – Mark chapter 5, where Jesus casts out the legion of devils who take up residence in the herd of swine, then heads out to heal Jairus’s daughter, but gets waylaid by the woman with the issue of blood. Jesus too got interrupted! Afraid of people laughing at you if you’re not good enough? So was Ether — read his story at Ether 12, especially verses 23-27. Will I ever see my pet again? Read the Bible Dictionary p. 763, #3 and Revelation 5:11-14. Are there beings on other planets? What do they look like? Read D&C 76:23-24. Having trouble loving someone? My go-to scriptures around that are Matthew 25:35-46 and Moroni 7:48.
The topical guide can be terrific for finding individual scriptures about anything on your mind — anger, courage, second coming, Jesus Christ:Good Shepherd, etc.
* Your secret weapon: “A Scripture A Day” perpetual calendar. If all you can manage is a single scripture on some days (or any day), read the scripture for the day on a page-a-day scripture perpetual calendar such as the one here .
As always, begin your scripture study with prayer, that God will speak to you through His word as recorded in the scriptures, and that the Holy Ghost will help you understand.
Scripture study, at home and in Primary. is enormously valuable in protecting children. President Monson said, “It was my experience as a small boy to come under the influence of a most effective and inspired teacher. . . , Lucy Gertsch. . . . She brought to our classroom as honored guests Moses, Joshua, Peter, Thomas, Paul, and, of course, Christ. Though we did not see them, we learned to love, honor, and emulate them.” (Ensign, June 2007, 108)
God bless you as you introduce your children to these valiant men and women, and to the Lord Jesus Christ himself, by reading the scriptures.
What has worked in your family? We’d love to hear your ideas!
(photo courtesy of www.123rf.com)