Welcome to 2020! New year, new decade, new you!
This is your chance to make a fresh start on your workout and diet plans, your mental health, your grades, your business, and practically anything else about you!
In the midst of making (and hopefully beginning to keep!) all these resolutions, put this among the top of your goals: improving your Come, Follow Me study.
I’ve heard many friends, family members, and acquaintances express the same sentiments: “I started out Come, Follow Me last year with such great intentions! I was so excited to do it! But a few months later, I realized my studies had lost vigor and petered out. By the end of the year, I felt so behind I went weeks or months without even opening it up.”
My own Come, Follow Me studies became less intentional, too. I continued to do it all year, but my studies became increasingly sporadic. I regret to say I barely wrote anything down from my personal studies, despite my intentions to record my thoughts.
This is your year
Don’t spend another minute feeling guilty about a less-than-satisfactory year of Come, Follow Me! Repent now and start fresh. God will take you how you are and help you become more!
This first week, I have already found it easier to devote more time and intention to Come, Follow Me. Last year, I felt my study time was torn between studying the Book of Mormon daily (as we should) and studying the New Testament as guided by the Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: New Testament 2019 manual. This year, I love getting to put all that time together for one deep, unrushed study.
I consider this year’s Come, Follow Me curriculum a blessing to all of us to fulfill both charges of study at once. I also consider it a great opportunity to learn from the Book of Mormon more deeply than ever before.
“… I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions.”President Russell M. Nelson, October 2017 General Conference
7 Ways to Improve Your Personal Come, Follow Me Study in 2020
Whether you have consistently held personal studies of the Come, Follow Me curriculum all last year or didn’t even touch it once, each of us can seek to improve our studies.
I find there is value in changing up my approaches to scripture study. There is no one perfect way to study, but there may be ways that will help you get more out of it, even if just for a day, week, month, or year. I encourage you to try one or more of these ideas and observe any changes in how you feel or what you learn.
As always, pray for the Spirit of Discernment; ask the Lord to help you choose which of these things—or what other thing(s)—you should do.
#1 – Incorporate Prayer
“Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”Prayer, Bible Dictionary
Among the many blessings that come from prayer, praying will enhance your scripture study experience.
Ask the Lord to help you understand what you are reading, find answers to your questions, know how to make important decisions in your life, feel His love, and/or have a greater focus and desire to learn as you read. Thank Him for the things you learn.
If you already hold a personal prayer along with your personal scripture study, try to improve your prayer experience. For example, consider offering a vocal rather than mental prayer. This could help you focus on the words you say rather than repeating a rote prayer.
If you don’t already incorporate prayer in your Come, Follow Me studies, begin now! Begin your studies with a prayer, finish them with a prayer, or do both. You might even choose to hold a prayer in the middle of your studies!
However you do it, incorporating prayer in your personal studies (or reincorporating it in a new way) can help you focus your studies, invite the Spirit and personal revelation, and learn from the scriptures.
#2 – Use a study journal
“Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it.”Elder Richard G. Scott, October 1993 General Conference
The Come, Follow Me manual frequently suggests journal-writing prompts, and many Church leaders have encouraged us to record our spiritual experiences and impressions. Writing impressions as you study shows the Lord that you are listening for revelation and want to remember it when it comes. It can also lead you to further revelation and insights.
If you don’t regularly use a study journal, set a goal to do so. Make that goal your own! My current goal is to write at least one take-away every day directly in the manual. You might choose to write in a separate journal, use the Gospel Library app to record your entries and study notes, or record your impressions another way.
If you already write in a study journal, ponder how you might improve your journal method. Pray for revelation on how you could use it better.
#3 – Scavenger hunt
Give yourself a goal for your studies. This goal might stay the same all year, or it might change day to day or week to week.
Making a “scavenger hunt” out of your studies may help you mentally engage in your studies, especially if you struggle holding your focus. If you choose, it may also be a way for you to answer any doctrine- or faith-related questions you have and/or strengthen your testimony in an area in which you don’t currently feel confident.
This might look like searching for and marking a favorite verse or line each day or week that you study. You could also choose a theme to look for or a question to try to answer every time you read.
#4 – Purchase a study book
God doesn’t require us to spend a minimum amount of money to successfully study the scriptures. However, there are many study helps available to enhance your studies. If you have the means and feel so prompted, even a small purchase could help you to feel more committed to your scripture study.
For example, I set a goal of writing in my Come, Follow Me book every day during my personal studies. To achieve this, I purchased my own personal copy of the book in Spanish. Even though it only cost a couple dollars, I have (at least in these first few days) felt committed to making that investment worth it. I’ve seen huge contrast between this and last year, when I barely touched the physical copy of the Come, Follow Me manual that was given to me for free.
You may choose to purchase one or more of the following:
- Your own copy of the manual
- A cheap copy of the Book of Mormon designated for your study of Come, Follow Me this year
- A journal edition of the Book of Mormon
- Commentary on the Book of Mormon
- Book of Mormon Institute Manual
- A new study journal
- Something else from the Church Online Store
#5 – Switch scripture/manual/journal format
One thing that has made a big difference in maintaining and improving my studies over the years is periodically changing the format of my studies. I mean by this that, when I feel my studies are becoming rote or lacking, switching from paper to digital scriptures or notes, or vice versa, helps me reengage in my studies and benefit in new ways.
Some people would disagree with this method, believing there is just one best way to study. For example, many have strong opinions regarding digital scriptures; some condemn them, and some think they are the only way to get a deep study of the scriptures!
While there really might be a “right way” for some individuals, I believe each has its advantages. For example, for me, digital scriptures have the potential to be more distracting, but I’m more likely to click on the footnotes, search for a term, or write a note on a verse. On the other hand, my physical scriptures may be easier to focus on, but I am unlikely to search for terms or follow any cross-references.
Similarly, I’ve seen switching between a physical and digital study journal has done a lot to change my approach to my note-taking, with pros and cons to both. Either way, the act of switching refreshes my experience of journaling my impressions and helps get me out of a rut in my scripture study.
If you think your Come, Follow Me study could use a little refresh, try switching the format of your scriptures, manual, and/or journal. You can try any combination of these, too. It might look like any of the following:
- Physical scriptures and manual with a text document on your laptop for notes
- Paper journal with digital scriptures and manual
- Audio (digital) scriptures on your phone alongside your physical manual and journal
- Some other combination
#6 – Set a goal to share what you are learning
“Oh, if I could teach you this one principle. A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!”Elder Boyd K. Packer, General Conference 1983
There are a number of reasons sharing what you are learning might help you. I have noticed that setting a precedent to share what I’m learning in my scripture studies helps me feel accountable to focus on finding something worth sharing.
And, of course, sharing what you learn will solidify your understanding and belief in those things. As you hear yourself say what you believe, the Spirit will bear stronger witness to you that it is true.
Prayerfully make your own goal and plan to share what you are learning in your personal Come, Follow Me studies. Here are some ways you might do this:
- Share your thoughts in a personal blog 😉
- Post on social media every day or week, highlighting a verse or line that stood out to you and why
- Make a shared online document or group chat with your family members or other study partner(s) and share what you find in your personal studies – my husband and I have just begun a shared iPhone Note in which we add to a list of verses that add to our Faith in Jesus Christ, based on the recommended personal study activity in the first week’s Come, Follow Me chapter.
- Share your testimony of what you learn from your studies in fast and testimony meeting at church
- Prepare and commit to sharing at least one comment each Sunday School class
#7 – Pick a setting and keep a routine
Choose a consistent, daily setting for your scripture study. Try to pick a place you won’t be interrupted or distracted.
If you already do this, but you think a change of setting would help you refocus, try finding a new place, choosing a different time, or extending the amount of time you study. Commit to being in a certain place every day at the same time for your daily personal Come, Follow Me studies.
These are a few settings I have chosen with at least good success:
- After getting ready in the morning, sitting at the kitchen table as I eat breakfast
- At night, in bed, before reading for fun and going to sleep every night (it worked until I stopped having time for fun reading and became a morning person)
- At a study desk at home after lunch
- At the institute building in a general quiet study area for an hour before going to class (my personal favorite)
- (Not really a setting, but another tip for any other crazy Type As out there: It also helps me to add “scripture study” to my list of to-dos each day in my planner!)
What other tips would you give someone else looking to start or improve their Come, Follow Me personal study? What is your plan to start or improve your Come, Follow Me study in 2020? Comment below!
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