“I try to read my Bible, and I do fine for a little while. Then I get to all those laws about sacrifices and I lose interest. Do you have any suggestions for how to study that will help me get more out of it?” a friend recently asked.
I have been reading and studying the Bible for almost 40 years. During that time I have tried a number of methods that have worked for a while and then have become more like a rut than a journey with Jesus. But isn’t that human nature? We need variety in our lives to stay healthy physically and mentally. Why would it be any different spiritually?
I see great advantage to shaking things up a bit from time to time. It keeps God’s Word fresh and creates opportunities for the Holy Spirit to speak. So here are a few techniques I have found effective in gleaning more from God’s Word:
Journibles: A Journible is simply a notebook in which we write out our very own copy of Scripture. Before reading a passage, ask God to speak to your heart through it. Prayerfully rewrite the Bible text on the left hand page. On the right hand page, journal what you sensed God saying to you through it. How does this passage make me feel—comforted? Corrected? Blah? How might the principles behind these verses apply to a challenge I am facing right now? What action is God prompting me to take, if any? How does my thinking need re-shaped, according to this passage?
Bible Study Books and Guides: There are lots of Bible studies available both online and in bookstores. In their books, Bible teachers like Beth Moore, Lysa TerKeurst, Francis Chan, and Max Lucado provide probing questions and insights to keep us motivated. Christianity Today offers an article on the Top 10 Studies on Books of the Bible. I personally like the LifeGuide Bible Study series available from Amazon.com. These booklets offer both topical and whole book studies.
One, Two, or Three Year Reading Plans: BibleGateway.com and BibleStudyTools.com both offer numerous Bible reading plans. When followed faithfully, the readings cover the entire Bible in the specified time frame. These plans usually have a few “catch-up” days built in, which are great for those times when our crazy lives don’t follow “The Plan”.
Devotional Helps: The Upper Room, The Secret Place, SacredSpace.ie, Crosswalk.com and Walk Thru the Bible are just a few of the resources available for our daily quiet time with Jesus. Each of these publications suggests a reading, prayers, and soul-searching meditations to strengthen our connection with God.
How we go about reading God’s Word isn’t as important as the life-changing truths we glean from it. But, if we are honest, we all can use a little motivation and guidance along the way. What works for you? I would love to share your ideas with my friend!