There’s no question that reading the Bible is a fundamental part of our faith. It’s intended to be our go-to when things get tough or when our faith is low, or whenever we’re just downright confused. The funny thing is, out of all of the many questions that the Bible answers, someone, somewhere, forgot to include instructions on how to read the thing. Do we read it from cover to cover? Do we read passages as we feel inspired? This was something that I struggled with for a long time. A good friend of mine mentioned just the other day that people who have been Christians for more than 20 years are still struggling with this. There are tons of resources out there now and finding a solid reading plan is as simple as picking up your smartphone or tablet. Even then, there’s still the question of how do we retain what we read. And, how do we make it practical? Because if we’re being honest, building the Ark of the Covenant isn’t exactly on anyone’s agenda. I want to give you my three step method to getting the most out of your Bible study but first, there are a few things that you’ll need:
- A Study Bible in the version that best suits your reading preference and learning style (I love NIV and I prefer a life application Bible that has commentary for each verse).
- A quiet space
- A journal and something to write with
- An open heart
Step One: Pray
Before you read anything, it’s always a good practice to pray. The whole idea behind studying the Bible is that you’re reading to hear from God and to get a clear understanding of what He wants from you. Starting your Bible study with a prayer is the difference between reading to think in your own limited ability and reading to seek revelation from God. You want to pray that He removes distractions, that you hear from Him clearly, and that you are able to receive everything that He needs for you to receive in the Word today.Within the past couple of months, I’ve taken the advice of Christian author, Beth Moore, and I’ve started praying that the Word will attach to my heart and become a part of who I am. That is such a powerful prayer! Remember, the Word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12).It’s great to have understanding but the ultimate goal is to understand and apply the principles in the Bible to our lifestyle. To have God’s desires become a part of your heart, a part of your makeup, is just…amazing.
Step Two: Read your passage at least twice
I know a lot of people use the ‘Bible in One Year’ plans and some of them require several chapters in your study. For some, this may be ideal, but for me, I prefer to only read one chapter at a time—sometimes two. I like to compare Bible study to our daily meal intake. Small frequent meals are better for digestion just like short, effective readings are great for understanding and spiritual growth. I read over the chapter(s) a couple of times, I read the commentary, and when I’m ready to close my Bible, I never feel overwhelmed with information nor do I feel like I rushed through anything. But this is just my personal preference! If you prefer to read more and you feel completely fulfilled after your study, keep doing what works for you; neither way is right or wrong.
Step Three: Write about it
This is my favorite part! Not just because I love to write but because this is where the entire purpose of Bible study becomes real for me. I like to jot down two things: my favorite verse and my takeaways. I always choose at least one verse that really stands out while I’m reading because most of the time, that verse is the one that God is speaking to me about. Then, I write down any lessons, new revelations, and thoughts about the passage. This is where God really speaks. As I’m writing, my understanding grows deeper and I’m able to see things from different perspectives that I may have missed while reading. This is why journaling is so important when you’re reading the Word! It doesn’t have to be two pages long; length is not indicative of understanding. What God puts on your heart is what will transfer to the paper. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 2 sentences or two paragraphs.
That’s it! Reading my Bible has become a simple pleasure because I have kept it simple. We don’t need much to experience God through reading His word because He is already there waiting to speak to you. If you’re not exactly into reading your Bible and you’re looking for a few good reasons to start, here’s a post on how reading my Bible changed my life. Oh! And here’s a pretty good reading plan that only requires two chapters a day. Happy Reading!
What is your Bible reading strategy?