LDS families are counseled to study the scriptures daily as a family. I’ve found that it’s a great foundation for gospel instruction and a starting point for gospel discussion. Beyond that, it has been a personal anchor to me in the tempests of life. When I have been struggling personally, our family scripture study has kept me grounded and strengthened my weak faith. It strengthens our family and shows the children how much we value the word of God.
In the beginning, we had a hard time with family scripture study. , I felt a little foolish. I didn’t grow up in a home where we studied the scriptures and I felt awkward doing it with just my husband and a small baby who was unaware.
As she grew older, we bought her some scripture reader books published by the church. We all enjoyed going through and showing her the pictures and telling scripture stories and identifying characters in the picture. And although it wasn’t formal scripture study, it was something we did together as a small family and it was perfect for her level of understanding.
A few years later, though, we knew we needed to do more. But we hadn’t quite made the adjustment yet. One summer, my husband left for an internship in Belgium, leaving me alone with our three small children. I felt completely overwhelmed and utterly alone and inadequate to the task. I knew that I needed more divine help than I was currently receiving and that if I wanted that assistance and those blessings, I would need to do the best I could at what I had been asked to do.
So I started studying the scriptures with our three children– ages 4, 2, and 1. When my husband returned it became a natural part of our family culture. In the evenings before bed we would sit down for scripture study. We would usually start with a prayer and follow that with a song. Then we would read. At first, we could only read one or two verses. That was all the time we had before their attention wavered. It was very hard to follow the story line, but we did it. And just over two years later our little family finished the 531 pages of the Book of Mormon. I had a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and felt I had fulfilled an obligation to the Lord to teach our little ones.
As the years went by, we were able to lengthen our scripture study to ten verses at a time and sometimes as much as a chapter a day. We continued to have little ones whose attention spans are short. Some days we could do more than others. We continued to study in the evenings before bed, with Mom or Dad reading. I admit that I was a “scripture hog.” I loved to be the voice and read the scriptures in what I felt was a meaningful way that the children could easily understand. I liked to put in facial expressions and emphasize certain words depending on whether the person was behaving well or poorly. And I found that as I read that way, I personally got much more out of scripture study than I had before. And although over time we have omitted the song, we still always ended with a family prayer.
On occasion, we stop from our regularly scheduled scripture study to memorize certain scriptures that teach important doctrine. On those nights, we read and discuss the scripture and then over the next several nights we practice reciting it and see who can get the farthest without making a mistake.
Recently, we have had to make another change in our family scripture study. Because of the increasing activities taking place at night, finding a time when we were all home in the evenings for scripture study became very difficult. So we made the big switch to morning scripture study. I admit that I was skeptical and not very supportive of the change at first. I thought it would be too difficult and cause too many problems. But I have been pleasantly surprised as the Lord has blessed and helped our family.
It has been remarkable to start the day out together as a family and not just frantically taking care of our own personal morning needs. I feel like I am sending my children out into the world prepared to fight the good fight and wearing the armor of God. We gather at 7:15 in our living room. I purchased some inexpensive copies of the Bible, since we are currently reading in the Old Testament, so that we could all have a copy that was to be kept in the living room (as opposed to everyone scouring the house for their personal, leather-bound copies). In the past, Mom or Dad usually did all the reading. But now that we each have a set handy, it’s easy and it helps everyone pay better attention if we each take turns reading a few verses. I also like having everyone read because then each of the kids gets to hear their siblings reading the word of God, not just Mom and Dad. Plus, there’s the added benefit of providing an auditory as well as a visual learning experience for our many different types of learners. After we finish a chapter, we kneel down together as a family and Dad usually picks someone to say the family prayer for us.
I do miss having the together time as a family in the evenings that we used to have when did our family scripture study then. And since it’s easier to do the rest of our morning routine without little ones, we don’t bother to wake our 18 month old or our 3 year old for family scripture study. Although, if they wake up on their own they are welcomed and loved, of course! There’s nothing better than morning cuddles from the little ones while you study scriptures. But I think it’s rather sad that our little ones are so often left out of our morning family scripture study. And so I’m thinking that I’d like to add something back into the evening routine for whoever’s schedule allows them to be there for it. I just want to make sure we aren’t missing anyone.
But this is the beauty I think of families. Each one is different with different needs and different strengths and talents and resources to take care of those needs. So that when we are counseled that we should study the scriptures and pray daily as a family, each family will find their own way to go about doing it. What is your family scripture study like?