Questions for the 1 Verse per Day Scripture Enthusiasts:
By Nate Richardson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you heard it said that we should “read at least a verse a day in the scriptures”? In this article, I will teach why such an idea is not consistent with the gospel plan by posing a series of questions, similar to the 5th chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon.
Let me note that I understand that certain seasons and days are busier than others, but notwithstanding this, we must, as the song says, “take time to be holy”. When it comes to taking time to be holy, we are tempted to think, “when I am older with more time I will do that.” Such a thought brings to mind the story of John Huntsman. He gave a lecture at BYU, and his wife said something along these lines, “you students often say ‘when I am rich like John, I, like John, will also give much to the poor.’ But John gave significantly to the poor even when we were poor. There are plenty of people who have as much or more than John who give much less to the poor than he does. Learn to give while you’re young, and you’ll be able to give when you are old.” This account mirrors the doctrine that we should start now to become well versed in the scriptures.
When I hear people talking about reading a verse of scripture a day being sufficient, I want to, in the spirit of Alma 5, ask them some questions.
Before my questions, consider that Elder Ballard specifically said that only a few verses a day is not pleasing to the Lord. He said, “I have heard many well-intentioned Church leaders and teachers instruct congregations to find time for daily scripture study, ‘even if it’s only one or two verses per day.’ Though I understand the point they are trying to teach and applaud the sincerity of that conviction, may I gently suggest that if we are too busy to spend at least a few minutes every day in the scriptures, then we are probably too busy and should find a way to eliminate or modify whatever activities are making that simple task impossible” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, When Thou Art Converted, 68).
Here are a few other quotes from modern prophets before we get into my list of questions:
-“When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 323)
-“It is a paradox that men will gladly devote time every day for many years to learn a science or art; yet will expect to win a knowledge of the Gospel which comprehends all sciences and arts, through perfunctory glances at books or occasional listening to sermons.” (Elder John A Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1951)
-“I promise you that as you consistently give the Lord a generous portion of your time, He will multiply the remainder.” (Russel M Nelson, “Becoming True Millennials”, An Evening with President Russell M. Nelson, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, January 10, 2016, Brigham Young University–Hawaii, https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/worldwide-devotionals/2016/01/becoming-true-millennials?lang=eng)
– “We should not be haphazard in our reading but rather develop a systematic plan for study. There are some who read to a schedule of a number of pages or a set number of chapters each day or week. This may be perfectly justifiable and may be enjoyable if one is reading for pleasure, but it does not constitute meaningful study. It is better to have a set amount of time to give scriptural study each day than to have a set amount of chapters to read. Sometimes we find that the study of a single verse will occupy the whole time… It would be ideal if an hour could be spent each day; but if that much cannot be had, a half hour on a regular basis would result in substantial accomplishment. A quarter of an hour is little time, but it is surprising how much enlightenment and knowledge can be acquired in a subject so meaningful. The important thing is to allow nothing else to ever interfere with our study (President Howard W. Hunter, Ensign, Nov. 1979, 64, emphasis added).
– “We are counseled and urged to read the four standard works from beginning to end. You should do that—read each of the four books of scripture from beginning to end more than once. You could hardly use your time to more advantage” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, Dec. 1985, 50).
-“We often hear…that the scriptures have the answers to all of our questions. Why is this so?…Reading…the scriptures will…put us in a position where we can obtain inspiration to answer any doctrinal or personal question, whether or not that question directly concerns the subject we are studying in the scriptures. That is a grand truth not understood by many….Again, even though the scriptures contain no words to answer our specific personal questions, a prayerful study of the scriptures will help us obtain such answers” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Studying the Scriptures,” Fireside given November 24, 1985).
-“Do not suppose, however, that those first principles [of the gospel] are the only ones to be learned; do not become stereotyped in your feelings, and think that you must always dwell upon them and proceed no further. If there be knowledge concerning the future, . . . the present, . . .[the] past, or any species of knowledge that would be beneficial to the mind of man, let us seek it; and that which we cannot obtain by using the light which God has placed within us, by using our reasoning powers, by reading books, or by human wisdom alone, let us seek to a higher source—to that Being who is filled with knowledge, and who has given laws to all things and who, in his wisdom, goodness, justice and mercy, controls all things according to their capacity, and according to the various spheres and conditions in which they are placed.” (Orson Pratt, March 14, 1875, Salt Lake City, 16th Ward, reported by David W. Evans)
Now here are my questions for the 1 verse per day enthusiasts, which questions reveal the “why” behind the need for you and I to be “well versed” rather than “single versed” in the scriptures:
-Have you received the image of God in your continence?
-Have you conquered every vice, and mastered your temper, your lust, your idleness, and every other unclean or impure practice?
-Can you hold water in a biblically based debate with a priest from another church?
-Can you explain clearly from the Book of Mormon the doctrine behind our practices as Latter-day Saints?
-Can you spell out the signs of the times? Are you thus filled with the spirit of prophecy?
-Are you confident before God that you are leading your family to life and salvation?
-Have you seen the face of God, having made your calling and election sure, and communed with the church and assembly of the First Born?
-Are you prepared in all things to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth should you be called upon tonight to leave your home and do so?
-If the Lord were to come tomorrow, could you speak to him and witness to him that you know well the doctrines and covenants of his kingdom, and that you are thus prepared to meekly inherit the earth and be a judge in Israel, assisting in the great governance of his sheep?
-If you were called this day to be a shepherd in Israel, and teach the burdened soul the doctrines of repentance and salvation from the scriptures, could you do so?
-If you were called upon this day to preach a sermon to your local congregation on any one of the doctrines of the kingdom of God, could you do so, drawing upon scriptures to support your message?
-Are you spiritually and intellectually prepared to dwell with and become like God your Father? Do you understand your role as heir in his kingdom?
-Do you have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost to bring to your remembrance all things of Christ so that you can successfully face every combat which the adversary is not pitching and will yet pitch heavily against you?
-When asked a question of faith by a peer, can you readily open the scriptures, and show the answer to that question, whatever it may be?
-Can you say that you are sufficiently read in the scriptures like the prototypical man Jesus Christ was when he preached at the temple at age 12 to the doctors there? And what of the adult Christ who rebutted the dogmas of the chief religious leaders of his day by drawing upon scripture both old and new?
-Do you understand the historical and symbolic meaning of all the doctrines of salvation?
-Could you sufficiently teach your peers and your children the doctrines of the kingdom, independent of any church aid or teachers sermons or manuals?
-Are you well verse in not only the doctrine of the church but the feelings and perspectives of the prophets?
-Has the Holy Ghost taught you all hidden things from the scriptures upon your having asked it of him, having taken thought before hand instead of just asking? Is your offering and knowledge thus acceptable before God?
-Are you confident about what God’s expectations are for you and others of your generation, and of his people past and future?
-Do you understand God’s feelings on government, and know how he has instructed his people to govern in past present and future?
-Do you know what the antichrist doctrines are of your day and how to combat them using scriptures and faithful reasoning?
Have you taken time to he holy, or when it comes to spiritual knowledge and compass are you in spiritual poverty and even debt? Have you been diligent in your seminary studies?
-Is the law written upon your heart, so that you could expound upon it in wisdom and holiness?
-Are your scriptures “on the table” (figuratively or better yet literally) when you study the sciences of the world, to compare them to see which theories hold water?
-When you do focus on just a verse, do you pause for prayer, and plead with the Lord to open your mind to the meaning of that passage?
-Do you consider the written word of God as a conversation with your maker, and if so, are you interested in having a meaningful conversation with your maker?
-Do you want your relationship with your Heavenly Father to be one of closeness and transparency, of training and revelation, or are you satisfied with a sort of hi and bye relationship as is commonly seen in divorced families? In other words, do you seek kinship with the world, or with the Lord?
-In your attempt to live in but not of the world, have you abided the command to stand in holy places and be not moved?
-Have you applied scripture in the various aspects of your life, such as reading God’s word with specific decisions in mind?
-Have you, as Elder Bednar has suggested, read through the Book of Mormon many times each time with a different topic in mind?
-Have you, as President Kimball, Lehi, and many others have suggested, read through the standard works cover to cover time and again?
-Have you found scriptures coming easily to mind when you ponder about your days business and relationships and the status of affairs?
-Do you trust the Lord to reveal to you the aspects of his mind and will which apply to your life? Are you fluent in the language of the spirit in which he communicates, which is taught in the scriptures?
-When you’re troubled, do passages of scripture come to your mind to instruct and comfort you, or do you wallow in frustrations both day and night?
-Are your dreams full of terror, or can the Lord teach you therein frequently?
-Do you know your spiritual gifts, and have excellency in wielding them?
-Could you tell the Lord today that you know the current scripture well enough to he qualified for the sealed scriptures if the book of Mormon and the other 12 tribes scripture which we urgently have no access to because if our ignorance and idolatry?
-Have you taken time to be holy, or when it comes to spiritual knowledge and compass are you in spiritual poverty and even debt? Have you been diligent in your seminary studies, taking them as seriously as our brethren of other Christian faiths, or of the Jewish faith, or of the Islamic faith, and so forth? In other words, is your religion the foundation of your identity, or simply a branch of it?
-Have you been able to, though the holy spirit of God as guided by the foundation of the scriptures, detect the secret combinations of our time as prophesied by the Book of Mormon prophets? These are, well, secret, and are not know of by and large.
-Are you qualified to fit the description in the scripture which declares that the children of the Lord will not be taken as a thief in the night regarding the general sense of surprise which the population will have at large concerning the coming of the Lord?
-Can you say to God that you have taught your children the law of the Lord by day, by night, at meals, and throughout the day, as commanded in the book of Deuteronomy, even sufficiently for them to combat the philosophies of the adversary should they so choose? (Deut. 11:19: “And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”)_
-Do your children know that your philosophies are rooted in the scriptures, having evidence that you have drawn them therefrom?
-Do your children know how to make righteous scripture study habits through life from having watched your actions day by day?
-Have you, like Joseph Smith, paused your work often to study and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ?
-Have you, like Joseph Smith, attempted to become familiar with “the word of the Lord in the original” (Hebrew and Greek)?
-Are you, like Joseph Smith, willing to invest time which could be used in seeking monetary gains to rather become more acquainted with the word of the Lord?
-Are you, like Joseph Smith, willing to spend time away from regular family time and other comforts and social roles to take seriously the word of the Lord? Though family time is lacking in our generation, so is time with the Lord. Recall that Jesus Christ often rose early in the morning to go away off and pray, etc. Neither Jesus Christ nor Joseph Smith were free of the burdens of earning money through hard work, yet they found time for the Lord.
For an article on why the morning is the best time for scripture study: http://richardsonstudies.com/2018/01/27/reasons-scripture-study-morning/
For an article with more quotes from the brethren on scripture study: http://richardsonstudies.com/2018/01/27/scripture-study/
For an article with words from the brethren on spending lots of time in the scriptures regularly: http://richardsonstudies.com/2018/05/26/hour-scripture-study-daily-ideal/