Here are five things you need to be doing when reading your Bible.
Pray for the Spirit’s Guidance
The Holy Spirit can help us make more sense of the Scriptures if we pray for His imparting to us what God’s Word is saying. Ask the Spirit to show you why God is saying this in His Word, what He is saying to you, where this is applicable in your life, and so forth. As Jesus told the disciples, so He tells believers today that “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).
Pray for Application
I touched on this in the previous paragraph, but the Bible is God speaking to us. Many people say that “God spoke to me about … .” But I always ask, does it match what God’s Word says? We want to know how certain Scriptures apply to our everyday lives. For example, Jesus said to “go into all the world and making disciples of all nations,” even if it’s next door (Matthew 28:19-20). Was Jesus just speaking to the disciples, or was Christ saying to be His witnesses? Surely, He was speaking to us all.
Have a Plan
I love the advice of many Bible teachers and scholars who advise us to have a daily reading plan so that we can gain wisdom from the Scriptures. I read some out of the Old Testament and then some from the New Testament. As hard as it is to do with my schedule, I must take time and make time for this very important reading. Don’t worry so much about how much you read as much as you are reading it daily. We don’t eat one meal on Sunday expecting it to last us all week, do we? So we must have a daily intake of the Word to sustain us through the difficult trials, temptations, and tests that come to every believer during the week. Have a plan and try to stick to it.
Meditate on the Word
It is one thing to read the Word; it is altogether another thing to contemplate what we read. I would rather read only a few lines of Scripture and meditate on these than read a whole book and not remember most of it. When we take time to reflect, ponder, and meditate on His Word, the Word penetrates deep into our minds, which allows us to internalize it to see just how awesome is our God.
I love to mark my Bible. The paper is not holy–God’s Word is. I highlight certain passages that are very important to me. When I see certain verses, I write them out or highlight them so that I can memorize them. Second Corinthians 5:21 and 1 John 1:9 are very important to me because these are essential to every believer. When we read something, then highlight it, and then write it out, we give our mind three ways in which the Word can sink deep down into our minds, and we can recall them when they are needed.
Find a Quite Place
If you have a place to read that’s quite, you’ll absorb more. My prayer closet, so to speak, is the same place I read my Bible. It’s in the corner of the basement, and it’s a bit further from the everyday distractions from traffic noise, lawnmowers, jets, and people! To me, I need it more quite, because I have a harder time concentrating when the TV’s on, the phone rings, and trucks drive by our house.
Commentaries and Concordances
Occasionally, I come across something in my Bible that I don’t fully understand, and when I do, I find my concordance and try to find out, or if I still don’t get it, I might read one of my Study Bible’s or a Bible Commentary, like one by Matthew Henry. These are valuable resources for when you hit a bump in the road in reading through the Bible, but we must remember that commentaries might be inspiring, but they are not inspirited by God like His Word is.
I find myself reading my Bible just because I know I need to, but that takes away what God’s trying to tell me when I read His Word. I have learned to slow down and savor the words, ponder their meaning, and not move to quickly in reading Scripture. If I do, I’m going to miss some valuable gem that I passed right over. Sometimes I even repeat a verse, but reading at a slower pace will let the words soak into our minds more easily.
Highlight and Mark
I love to use a yellow highlighter when reading Scripture. The reason I do is when I come across a certain verse that just grabs my attention, I can highlight it in yellow and find it later when I want to reference it. I also use a pen to put asterisks on verses that I want to memorize. I have highlighted, and now committed to memory, 2nd Corinthians 5:21, 1 John 1:9, John 10:27-29, and several others, because I want to quote them when I need them when I share the gospel with people.
If you have an idea about studying the Bible, please let us know. I’d love to hear it, and I’m sure the readers would, but we must remember that the Holy Spirit can work with the Word of God to open our understanding, and so praying for the Spirit’s help before Bible reading, might be the most important thing to remember when reading your Bible.