We all know we should read our Bibles, but doing it seems a real challenge. How to start? Where to start? Reading straight through has long been a problem for me because I get bogged down in Numbers or Deuteronomy. Trying to read the whole thing in a year doesn’t work for me, either. I get distracted, and then I’m behind, and I never seem to catch back up. Devotionals are fine, but they don’t get deep enough into the meat and context of the Bible. So what is a person to do?
I have landed on a method that works for me. (Well, two, actually, but I’m going to focus on one here.) This method is nothing new, but it’s surprising to me how few people know about it, or if they do, few of them do it. If motivation is the issue, maybe a quick read of 1 Corinthians 9 and Paul’s discussion of his determination will help. Combine that with Nehemiah 4 and the people’s wall-building effort, and I think you’ll realize, as I did, that what we need is a spiritual work ethic.
Please don’t infer from my words that I’m perfect and never miss a day of Bible study. I do. But just as with my eating and fitness lifestyle, when I fail, I always start again.
What is this method, and how does it work?
- Choose a book in the Bible to read. Take that book in sections. It can be a chapter a day, or smaller segments. Choose what you think you will do, not what you think you should do.
- Ask a series of questions about the section for the day.
- Who? Who wrote it, who was it written to, who are the characters in it, if any?
- What? What takes place, what is the main theme, what is it about?
- When? When was it written, when do the events described take place?
- Where? Where does it happen?
- Why? What is the purpose of this passage, what is the message I should take away from it?
- How? How does this passage affect me and my life?
The final two questions are pivotal. Another way to phrase them might be:
What does it say, what does it mean, and what does it mean to me?
I use a journal to write down the answers to these questions. If I don’t know the answers, I look them up. BibleGateway is a great on-line resource. I also like the Bible Knowledge Commentary.
Spending half an hour a day listening in this way to the voice of God through His word is, I think, about the least we can do to grow in our spiritual lives. As writers, it also keeps us grounded in the truth.