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The following was written for LDS Church Magazines by Bethany Bartholomew. To see the post on LDS.org, click here.
How do you study when you’re looking for answers to a spiritual question or even just trying to better understand the scriptures? I mean you—personally. Everyone has different study habits for school, but sometimes we forget that we can individualize our gospel study too. The next time you have a spiritual or doctrinal question, try some of these tips to figure out what might work best for you.
Create a List, Chart, or Map
Sometimes it’s helpful to visually organize your thoughts during gospel study by putting them into a list, chart, or map of some kind. Here is an example of the sort of chart someone could create when studying the epistles of Paul in the New Testament. You can create a list, chart, or map of your own using any format that helps you most. Get creative! Find fun ways to organize your gospel study.
With a companion?
Writing from … ?
Main topics of epistle
Example: 1 Timothy
Laodicea (see note at the end of 1 Timothy 6)
True doctrine, the Savior, prayer, faith and charity, leadership qualities, apostasy, caring for the poor, staying faithful, avoiding worldly riches
Record thoughts and impressions you receive during your scripture study in a study journal and review those thoughts often.
Write down your thoughts and impressions after your prayers, even if the impressions aren’t directly related to the topic you’re studying. See what the Spirit is teaching you over time.
Jot down your questions in a notebook, on your phone, or on a notepad by your bed to remind you and to help you keep thinking about what you’re learning every day.
3. Listen and Discuss
Talk to a parent or trusted leader. Work it out together. It might take a while, but you’ll both grow in the process.
Teach someone else. Take turns sharing what you do know. Discuss what you learned from each other.
Listen to scriptures or other LDS stories and resources out loud.
Search study helps in the scriptures and online (see below for a list of helpful LDS resources).
Search on LDS.org for videos and songs about what you’re studying.
Study context. Research the history or the chapters surrounding the topic or scripture you’re studying.
Let Study Helps Help You
There are a lot of valuable resources available in the scriptures and online to help you as you study important topics. Here’s a list of some of the resources available to you and where to find them:
In the Scriptures
Guide to the Scriptures
Bible Chronology (events from the Old and New Testaments put into chronological order with approximate dates)
Harmony of the Gospels (stories about the Savior from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John organized by events, places, and approximate dates)
Joseph SmithTranslation of the Bible
Maps and photographs
Gospel Topics (topics.lds.org)
Church history (history.lds.org)
Study helps (scriptures.lds.org)
Lessons and teaching resources (lds.org/go/41754a)
LDS Media Library (lds.org/media-library)
Help with challenges (lds.org/go/41754b)
Other Online Resources
Mormon Channel (mormonchannel.org)
Scriptures cited in general conference (scriptures.byu.edu)
Mormon Newsroom (mormonnewsroom.org)
Act out stories from the scriptures or other resources. How does putting yourself in that person’s shoes help you better understand what you’re studying? What would similar situations look like in your life?
Make a scripture chain that connects answers you find in the scriptures. (See below for an example.)
Make a Scripture study Chain
Sometimes it’s helpful to make a note of several scriptures that cover the same topic. Check the Guide to the Scriptures for scriptures that relate to the topic you are studying. Then use footnotes and context to link to scriptures with more information on the same subject. Write the scripture that comes next in the chain in the margin of the previous scripture and so on. You can also search for conference talks about a specific topic to help you in your research (see the topics list at conference.lds.org). The scripture study chain on the topic of hope is an example.
Scripture Study Chain
Scriptures about hope:
Start: Moroni 7:40
Talks about hope:
Bishop Dean M. Davies, “The Blessings of Worship,” Oct. 2016 general conference.
Elder Paul V. Johnson, “And There Shall Be No More Death,” Apr. 2016 general conference.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home,” Apr. 2016 general conference.
Elder L. Whitney Clayton, “Choose to Believe,” Apr. 2015 general conference.
President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015), “The Reason for Our Hope,” Oct. 2014 general conference.
President Henry B. Eyring, “A Priceless Heritage of Hope,” Apr. 2014 general conference.