It is vital that we hear from Jesus every day. His word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and we need to feed on it each day as we navigate through the ups and downs of life. Lately I’ve had the joy of getting to know a few new believers and have been able to help them get started with reading the Bible. It’s really made me reflect on how I read the Bible and so I thought I’d share the simple “method” (for lack of a better word – it ebs and flows, but there is a process of sorts in my head) I’ve come to use over the years:
1. Determine a time and location and make it regular. Having a regular time and place will ensure that you read at all. I think it’s whatever works best for you. I know people who do it in the morning, after work, or before bed. Morning is best for me and I like Psalm 5:3 where we see David mentioning that he makes his requests to God and waits in expectation all day (Scripture reading flows easily into prayer as we’ll discuss below). However, there’s no “rule” about when you have to read.
2. Determine the passage you are going to read. Often times when we fail at reading it’s because we don’t know where to start, or where to go after we finish a book of the Bible. If you’re new at this, try James, the gospel of John, or some Psalms or Proverbs. I recommend a chapter a day – the goal is quality over quantity. However, you’ll learn in time what your dietary needs are. Sometimes less is more, or sometimes you sense you just need to read a lot.
3. Pray. Hebrews 4:12 says the word is living and active – so, if you’ve accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit within you will prompt you as you read God’s word. So, before you start reading, pray something like, “Jesus, I want to be more like you. Please speak to me through your word – show me exactly what you want me to see today.”
4. Read the passage. Read the passage prayerfully, sometimes more than once.
5. Journal. Write down what stands out to you. Specifically, look for three C’s: conviction, comfort, and conjunctions. God will often convict us through his word – write those things down. Contrastly, God will also comfort us through His word – look for those things as well. And lastly, look for conjunctions – words like “therefore,” “but,” etc. mean there’s something coming based on what was just said. Certainly, God can speak beyond these three C’s; these are just common ways I’ve found Him speaking in my experience.
6. Action/Prayer. Look over what you’ve written down – is there anything Jesus is telling you to do? Sometimes you may feel led to go do something – take a meal to a widow, or visit someone in prison for example. Or, sometimes, it’s not so much of a “go do,” but more of a “trust in God instead of worrying,” or “be humble,” or “God loves you so much.” In these situations, pray for that truth to be cemented deep in your soul and for God to change you from the inside out – don’t underestimate the power of prayer.
So, there’s my thoughts. They are certainly not meant to be exhaustive, but in some ways I think we over complicate Bible reading. People have read God’s word and it has spoken to them long before the days of commentaries, seminaries, and so on. Ask God to speak, read the word, and respond. God will speak to you and change you through His word.
Read it, and learn to treasure what it brings you, for “the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple…they are more precious than gold” (Psalm 19:7, 10).