Five Chapters Per Day

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Just over a month ago I thought that I needed to start reading more of the Book of Mormon each day. Reading quickly (or in my case, listening and reading) isn’t studying the scriptures but I believe there is a benefit to such immersion. Going through quickly can lead to insights about major themes and characters that are not as obvious when going through as a slower pace.

As a full-time missionary I read the Book of Mormon 11.5 times (because of transfers timings I served for 23 months). I also read the other books of scripture and a number of gospel-related books and articles. Depending on what mission a missionary is in (i.e., learning a new language or what a particular expected schedule is), there is a minimum of one hour to study and read. I typically averaged 2-3 hours per day. This is shared only as an example of how much time full-time missionaries have to read and study the scriptures. Currently, I don’t have as much time available to read and study but I knew I could spend more time than I was spending.

So over a month ago I decided to get through five chapters of the Book of Mormon per day. Why five? It was arbitrary. It worked out, however, to be a good number of chapters to listen to during my commutes to work each weekday. I can get through five chapters listening at 1.5 speed within the span on my commute (sometimes including time while walking from the parking lot to my office). When there are shorter chapters (such as the first chapters of Moroni) I listen to or read more but I always try to get through at least five chapters (there were a couple days when I read fewer than five chapters but I made sure I caught up to the 15 chapters by the end of the third day).

How long does it take to read or listen to five chapters in the scriptures per day? Since I typically listen to the chapters at 1.5 speed, I usually get through five chapters in 20-35 minutes. At a slower pace five chapters would take 30-53 minutes of time per day (these are rough estimates based on my  recent experience with the Book of Mormon).

The Book of Mormon has 239 chapters. At five chapters per day, it take 48 days to finish the book (47.8 days to be precise). At this rate, one can go through the Book of Mormon seven times completely and be 63% through it for the 8th time.

What if someone wanted to read through all the LDS Standard Works? Based on the current English versions of the texts that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use, there are 929 chapters in the Old Testament, 260 chapters in the New Testament, 239 chapters in the Book of Mormon, 140 ‘chapters’ in the Doctrine and Covenants (including the two official declarations), and 19 chapters in the Pearl of Great Price. This is a total of 1587 chapters. At 5 chapters per day, one will finish the entire standard works in 318 (317.4) days.

Additionally, there have been an average of 36.75 talks given per General Conference over the past four General Conferences. We’ll round that up to 74 Conference talks per year (this includes the General Women’s Session and the General Priesthood Session). Reading or listening to two General Conference talks per day would allow someone to finish the standard works and all conference talks in just under one year.

The problem with reading and listening at this rate is that it does not count as in-depth study so other time could be spent reading topically or more slowly. I’ll certainly modify my reading pattern over time but five chapters of the Book of Mormon per day has been a wonderful experience.

The example of a 7-year-old

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With the start of a new year, the year in which my daughter turns eight and is eligible to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my wife and I talked about how we could help her prepare for this wonderful ordinance. My wife thought it would be great for our daughter to read the Book of Mormon before she turns eight. We both felt this was a good goal but did not say anything to her because we wanted her to set her own goal, whatever it might be.

Then out of the blue a couple Sundays ago our daughter was sitting in church when she told my wife that she thought she should read the Book of Mormon this year before she turns eight! My wife acknowledged to our daughter that that was a prompting from the Holy Ghost. We were both pleased to see our daughter listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Because of my daughter’s example, I decided that I should re-read the Book of Mormon this year as well. A number of years ago I had switched from serial readings of the scriptures to topical readings (in part to have posts for this website). It’s been a while since I’ve read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover; I’ve read it in its entirety countless times in the past, including 10+ times as a missionary but I’ve become so ensconced in my topical studies that I have neglected the larger picture that comes from reading the whole book with consistency.

My daughter is already in 2 Nephi; I’m not quite that far along yet. I’m always struck by 1 Nephi. It’s a remarkable book; Nephi was a remarkable individual. I have a post or two I want to write about what struck me this time through 1 Nephi so look for those in the coming days.

I’m grateful to my daughter for serving as a good example to me and inspiring me to return to serial reading of the scriptures in addition to topical reading of them.