By Leah Candland
As a child, I remember studying from the scriptures each morning before school with my family. At first, I didn’t recognize the significance this would have in my life. Some days my siblings and I listened and other days we made it more difficult for my parents to remain faithful in their efforts. We sometimes argued with each other, whined, or with a moan, asked, “are we almost done?” However, my parents remained committed to their efforts, and overtime I began enjoying our scripture studies more and came to understand the scriptures more fully and gained a powerful testimony for myself.
Why is it important for our children to gain a testimony of the scriptures?
Elder Heber C. Kimball once said, “To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves… The time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within himself. If you do not have it, how can you stand?” (Handbook for Families, 1989).
For a time, our children will “endure on borrowed light” from us, but it is crucial that we help them find and develop a light for themselves! But how do we do this? While all of our children are different and learn in different ways, ponder how the following may be adapted to best helping your children in their spiritual journey.
Here are Five Meaningful Ways to Help Your Child Gain a Testimony of the Scriptures:
Regularly study from the scriptures with your kids. One of the best things my parents did for my siblings and I was studying the scriptures together as a family. We’d gather to study for about 10 or so minutes a day, sometimes going through a whole chapter, while other times focusing on just one event within a chapter. This showed me how important the scriptures were to them and how important it was to partake of “daily manna.” Overtime the scriptures became truly important to me as well.
As we frequently study the scriptures with our children, we not only showing the importance of God’s word, but help establish good habits that will help them draw closer to God’s love and gain a testimony. President Howard W. Hunter provided the following council: “It is certain that one who studies the scriptures every day accomplishes far more than one who devotes considerable time one day and then lets days go by before continuing” (1979).
Help them to understand the scriptures. Beyond just reading the scriptures, engage your children in a discussion about specific principles, historical background, context of certain verses, etc. to help them better understand the principle being taught. When I was a child, my parents would frequently pause and reiterate what was being taught, and ask questions in order to help me understand.
Sister Julie B. Beck once related learning to understand the scriptures to learning how to bake rolls: it’s not always successful, and it takes time to improve and become easier. From her experience she shared that “for both pursuits [she] needed to learn proper techniques and gain an understanding of the ingredients. The key was starting and doing it again and again” (2004).
Teach them to “liken” the scriptures to themselves. Sister Beck found one of the best ways to understand the scriptures was to “liken” them unto herself (2004). Help your kids see that all of us will face trials just like Nephi, Paul, and Moroni. And each of us will doubt our abilities like Moses and Enoch, but the scriptures provide answers to our questions and help us see our strengths and abilities. Help them to see themselves in the stories. This can be a simple as substituting their name into the scripture being read, or sharing a relevant scripture when they face specific trials.
It is also important to tailor the scriptures to our kids’ learning styles if possible. There are a variety of ways we can liken the scriptures unto ourselves. For example, some may find it more helpful to study by topic, such as turning to “faith” in the Topical Guide and reading from the list of scriptures provided there. For others, it may be more effective to start from the beginning of the scriptures and search for specific themes and lessons as they read. As a parent, you have the ability to receive guidance and inspiration from our Heavenly Father in knowing how to best help each of your children.
Teach them to pray about the scriptures. Just as you are prayerful in your own scripture study, it is important to teach your children to be prayerful while studying scriptures as well. During our family scripture studies, my parents always had us open and close with a prayer. They taught me to do the same in my personal scripture study, which helped to invite the Spirit. With the Spirit present, I was able to feel the truth of what was being taught. President Hunter shared that “there is nothing more helpful than prayer to open our understanding of the scriptures. Through prayer we can attune our minds to seek the answers to our searchings” (1979).
Teach and provide them opportunities to share their testimony of the scriptures. At the end of our family scripture studies, my mother would often bear simple testimony about something we learned from the scriptures that day, or simply that she knew the scriptures were true. Over time, she gave my siblings and I opportunities to share truths we learned and knew as well. Testimonies are a way in which we can share truth to others. As we provide opportunities for our kids to share their testimonies, their testimonies will be strengthened. In the words of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “If we have to work hard to obtain a testimony, it will make us and our testimony even stronger. And if we share our testimony, it will grow (2006).”
The scriptures are an essential part of our gospel learning, and in developing a relationship with our Father in Heaven. They teach us gospel truths, provide guidance and comfort, and invite the Spirit into our lives. As we help our children gain a testimony of the scriptures, Heavenly Father will assist and bless us in our endeavors.
For more help and great ideas for teaching kids about hearing and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and gaining a testimony, check out our latest book, This is the Spirit of Revelation. Available on Amazon. And best of all, all profits go to LDS charities!
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Leah Candland is a wife and mother. She has a Bachelor of Science in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University – Idaho. She has served in various callings, including in the Relief Society and Primary, and has a passion for children and family advocacy. She loves spending time with her family and has a strong desire to help parents in building strong, healthy relationships with one another and their children.
Beck, J. B. (2004, April) My Soul Delighteth in the Scriptures. Retrieved from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2004/04/my-soul-delighteth-in-the-scriptures?lang=eng
Hunter, H. W. (1979, October) Reading the Scriptures. Retrieved from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1979/10/reading-the-scriptures?lang=eng¶=p5#p5
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1989, December). How to Help Our Children Gain a Testimony. Handbook for Families. Retrieved from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1989/12/how-to-help-our-children-gain-a-testimony?lang=eng
Uchtdorf, D. F. (2006, October) The Power of a Personal Testimony. Retrieved from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2006/10/the-power-of-a-personal-testimony?lang=eng
What is a Testimony?
A testimony is the “abiding, living, [and] moving conviction of the truths revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ”–Marion G. Romney