Abraham Lincoln said, "I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book." We whole-heartily agree with President Lincoln. Daily study of this gift from God has changed the atmosphere in our home.
We are on our third generation of scripture study. Shannon's parents began the tradition. She remembers sleeping through a few 5 a.m. study sessions. Amazingly, she retained a lot of information, while never really gaining consciousness. Erin remembers family prayer daily, and hit-and-miss scripture study that gradually became more hit than miss. Interestingly, Erin, the third generation, wouldn't dream of having a day without it.
There was a moment in Erin's scripture study she remembers well, "The kids were out of control and the noise and stress were too much and I snapped and said, very calmly, 'We are trying to have a spiritual experience here!' OK, she probably yelled. Though this was a long time ago, and she has since had a calmer atmosphere while studying scriptures as a family — still cringing at the memory."
Whether you have small children, or teens, if you are having a hard time during your daily study remember these points:
Smaller children have short attention spans. They may only be able to study for a few minutes. Have them repeat some of the scriptures if they can, and explain as you go. You may only get through one verse.
Older children and teens may roll their eyes and scream boredom, but hang in there, if it becomes a habit, I guarantee they'll miss it when they are away.
You won't have perfectly quiet children all the time. Accept this and move on.
When you take even 15 minutes out of your busy day to sit down as a family and pull out your scriptures, it sends a powerful message to your children. You are putting God first on your schedule, letting nothing get in the way. You also invite the spirit into your home, and each member of the family can take this spirit with them throughout the day.
You catch more flies with honey
Remember a little positive goes a long way. Erin's kids have a paper flower garden on the wall of the office, when they finish a chapter they get to put a petal on a flower. When they finish a book they get a family activity. Star charts and rewards may seem silly to teens, but the right reward can make anything more fun. Track the number of days you study, without missing a day and pick a family activity everyone wants to do together as a reward. You can't lose, positive scripture study and a positive family activity is a winning combination.
As you try to assimilate your family into a pattern of scripture study, you may have moments when you feel you are getting nothing out of it. Remember this, your children absorb a lot, even when they don't seem to be paying attention. It may take three generations, but you will get somewhere.
Make it a routine with something to look forward to
Maybe on the days that you study over breakfast, it is the best breakfast. When you establish regular study times, a positive routine will make it easier to keep the spirit during study and open your family's hearts to the teachings of God.
During study time it can be hard to keep everyone's attention, here are some ideas to help keep yours a spiritual experience.
Use visual aids
Smaller children love these.
Make it exciting
Try telling it as a story, or acting out parts.
Plan ahead as much as possible
Planning and order can invite the spirit into your home and allow you more time to see how everyone is absorbing it.
Take turns reading and following along. Giving older children a chance to read, or having everyone who can read follow along in his or her own scriptures will help keep the peace.
Pick a subject or a story
Come up with a monthly theme and use the index to help you find scriptures or scripture stories that teach the value of the month.
Make it mandatory
Every night or every morning. Set a time and stick to it, no excuses. Ours is before bedtime and after stories. We have formed such a habit that if we are on a late date, our kids will stay awake until we get home just to read.
Make it fun
Have a traditional snack like apples and peanut butter or hot chocolate that you serve only during scripture study. Have special scripture study blankets to snuggle in. Just don't get too comfortable and fall asleep.
Focus on areas of interest
As your children become teens and have questions, struggles and worries, keep a list of their specific interests or needs. Hang a paper on the fridge and let people post questions. Take turns researching the subject in the scriptures. If bullying is an issue read about David and Goliath. Talk about Queen Ester and her courage when someone is nervous.
Establish a no-tech zone
Leave the cell phones tucked away and the computers and TV off.
No matter what scriptures your specific religion uses, or who you pray to, daily study of your scriptures can increase love in your family. We have seen this miracle in our families, and we are better for it. The best place to start is in the beginning, the best time to start, is now.