Scripture study and family prayer were central to the Arnesen family culture that my dad and mom established. The day started early in our home. Dad was always up at 5 am. He cooked breakfast for us every day and then rousted us out of bed for family scripture study. It was always dark outside when he got us up. Some days it was cold. My dad had small children or teenagers at home for 33 years. With 7 children and teenagers at home, you can imagine how scripture study went at 5:30 in the morning! Almost every morning there was someone that was either cranky about being there, sleeping on their scriptures, struggling to read their verses, not paying attention, etc. I’m sure that many mornings Dad wondered if any of us were getting anything out of our scripture reading.
To the outside observer, our morning study may not have seemed perfect. But it was perfect because Dad was consistent. That consistency, it turns out, was the most important thing. I never questioned if the scriptures were important to Dad. I knew they were because of his daily commitment to scriptures study.
In our family today, Sarah and I also hold daily family scripture study and family prayer. We have had this habit in our home from very early in our marriage. Every night we gather the kids around and read from the scriptures. The kids start to “read” as soon as they can make their first words. As they learn to speak, they repeat after us the words of the verses. When they start to read on their own, we help them work through a verse or two. The strong readers read two or more verses on their own. Often we have questions like “what does ‘travail’ mean?” Sometimes we get deeper questions like “What does it mean to have hope?”
Because we have made this a consistent pattern in our home, the kids now help us to make it a priority. Sometimes when we’re coming home late in the night the kids will sleepily remind us, “We haven’t read scriptures yet.” Then we pull out a few verses and read them together before they fall asleep.
We have found that this pattern has helped our children love the scriptures even at a young age. It definitely takes effort, but the habit and the spiritual strength are worth it!
We have found this quote to be true,
I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion (churchofjesuschrist.org)