Monday, November 13, 2017

The relationship between reading your scriptures and the power to fight sin

I've wondered for quite some time what the relationship is between reading your scriptures and fighting against sin. I'm not an expert, and I only have my experience to share with you.

I've felt a sense of urgency about my scripture reading habits lately. I was really struggling with negative thoughts not too long ago. I had thoughts that convinced me I was terrible, or thoughts dwelling excessively on all the things wrong with my life. And I sure did listen to those thoughts! The battle to keep such thoughts at bay seemed insurmountable and relentless. I was talking through it with Ben, and as we discussed some things that might help, we talked about obedience. Ben reminded me that blessings are given dependent upon your obedience. After he said that, a thought entered my mind-- I could be doing better with my scripture reading. I don't often go a day without cracking open my scriptures and reading a verse or two, even if the day is crazy. But was I "feasting upon the word"? Was I reading with "full purpose of heart"? That was something I could do better.

What is it about scripture reading that can help you fight your battles?

It says in Alma 31:5 that the scriptures have more power than the sword. In other words, by reading the scriptures with faith you will have more motivation to do what is right than by doing anything else.

I have thought in the past that the scriptures somehow "magically" bring this to pass. That reading the scriptures made you, unbeknownst to you, make better choices and have better attitudes. In my own life, I've come to find I have way more choices than I realized, and all of those choices begin in the mind. While the scriptures have not "made me" have a better day, or "given me" a better attitude, reading my scriptures fills my mind with truth, which then in turn provides me with greater courage and strength to choose good choices, if I so desire. I have seen that studying my scriptures can give me even more power than simply reading my scriptures, because I'm are engaging on an even deeper level with Truth.

I've redoubled my efforts to study the scriptures everyday for 30 minutes by getting up 30 minutes earlier. I was really inspired by Elder Bednar's challenge to "spiritually create" your day before you begin your day. That and something Elder Ballard said (that morning prayer is actually more important than evening prayer) made me realize that I am not starting out my days the way I should be. So I'm trying to be better about getting up early, which is not easy for me because I love my sleep! But I have noticed a marked difference in my thoughts. Scripture reading, morning prayer, combined with drastically cutting back on my social media has given me a much clearer mind, it comes more easily for me to focus on the things that matter most.

This clearer mind is the armor I needed to fight my personal battle against sin, which for me is a war waged mostly within my own mind. I don't win every battle, but as I put my trust in a Truth bigger than me, given by God and written in his Holy Scriptures, I know I will win the war.