We know reading Scripture is important—Spurgeon says its essential. We may even have a few ideas on how to create a Bible reading plan. But what do we do while we read the Bible?
Do we merely read the words or is there a strategy behind how to read?
The concept of Saturation Bible Study has greatly changed my life and as such, each year I teach hundreds of people how to study the Word of God. One aspect I share of good Bible study is having a plan to read the Word.
Recently I was reading a book by Howard and William Hendricks called Living By The Book. In it, they outlined 10 ways we should read Scripture. Though this section spans ten entire chapters, here is a summary of 10 ways I encourage you to read the Bible.
10 Ways to Read Scripture
1. Read the Bible Thoughtfully
Don’t merely read the words, think about what you’re reading.
2. Read the Bible Repeatedly
Don’t just read a passage once. Read it often and read it many times. I have found that the more I read a passage, the more I understand it and can make better observations. Here are a few suggestions on how you can read the Bible repeatedly:
- Read entire books in one sitting
- Start at the beginning of the book (helps you understand context)
- Use difference translations
- Listen to Scripture
- Read the Bible out loud
- Have a schedule
3. Read the Bible Patiently
Don’t rush! Go slow and realize that study takes time. Be patience with the text and be patient with yourself. As Hendricks said, “fruit takes time to ripen.”
4. Read the Bible Selectively
Don’t be passive in your reading, actively engage the text and ask the right questions, such as:
- Wherefore? – so what? (what difference does this make in my life?)
5. Read the Bible Prayerfully
Turn your reading into opportunities to pray through Scripture. Countless passages are great for this, but if you want to start easy, begin with a Psalm.
6. Read the Bible Imaginatively
This may be one of my favorites! I love reading the Bible, allowing the text to come alive in my imagination.
Put yourself in the shoes of different characters—for example, in the story when Christ is born, what would it have been like to be Mary delivering Jesus, or Joseph trying to help, or one of the sheep watching from the side? See the story from different angles—it often gives you greater insight into the text.
Here are some other suggestions:
- Use different translations
- Rewrite the text in your own paraphrase
- Read in a different language
- Listen to Scripture
- Vary your setting (example: read Psalm 23 while watching sheep)
7. Read the Bible Meditatively
Many Psalms tells us to meditate and reflect upon God’s Word “day and night.” This is not some new age technique of emptying our minds; rather this is a Biblical concept of filling up our minds with Truth. Take time to ponder Scripture and remember that this is not a 20 minute activity.
8. Read the Bible Purposefully
We must remember that nothing in Scripture is there by accident. When you read look for the aim and purpose of what the author was saying to his original audience.
9. Read the Bible Acquisitively
Don’t let your mind grow numb reading words and don’t merely read just to receive more information. Read God’s Word with a purposeful interest to retain and possess it.
10. Read the Bible Telescopically
Many of us flip our Bibles open and point to a passage, read a few lines, close the cover and call it good. But understanding context is critical while reading Scripture. We must remember that all the pieces make up a whole. To read telescopically means we need to view the parts in light of the whole and remember that often the whole is more important than its individual parts (another reason why context is important).
The next time you read Scripture, remember not to passively read the text but to be actively engaged and use the 10 ideas above to help deepen your reading and understanding of God’s Word.
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