By: Katie Stone
Only a few days into my Bible-school course a discouraging thought entered my mind. I had already read over sixty chapters of the Bible since arriving on campus, yet I couldn’t think of a single thing I’d learned.
This realization really bothered me. Was I wasting my time? Why should I continue to read scripture if I wasn’t seeing any benefit after sixty chapters?
I’ve discovered that it’s really easy to turn off my brain and read the Bible mindlessly. Instead of reading to know Jesus, I can slip into just reading to cross chapters off my plan. But I’ve also discovered that there are some very simple things I can do when I read the Bible to help keep my mind engaged so my time in God’s word is not wasted.
At some point, all of us have probably found ourselves routinely reading God’s word without getting anything out of it. Let’s talk about how we can change that.
1. Read Prayerfully
As soon as I realized what I had done (read sixty chapters filled with God’s Words mindlessly) I stopped reading mid-verse.
I looked up and stared blankly at the wall on the other side of the room while I told God about the whole situation. Then I prayed, “Please, may this time in Your Word not be wasted. Please show me Your character, show me the lessons You want me to learn.”
Do you know what happened? God answered that prayer.
Since then, I always begin my time in the Bible by asking God to help me understand His word, to show me His character, and to give me a greater love for Christ as a result.
The truth is, I need God to help me understand and learn from scripture. After all, He is the author of this book, Who (incredibly enough) hasn’t left us to figure His book out on our own. The Author has actually come to live in us. Even more than you want to understand scripture, God wants you to understand the Bible and love it.
Next time you open your Bible, start with prayer. Ask for understanding and insight. As you read, talk to God about what you are reading. Ask Him about confusing parts, thank Him for His promises, praise Him for who He is, and laugh with Him about all the absolutely crazy things people did.
2. Read to Know God
Often we approach the Bible as a sort of instruction manual (especially when reading Deuteronomy or the Sermon on the Mount). But the real purpose of the Bible is to show us who God is, how unlike God we are, and how we can enter into a relationship with Him.
So when you read the Bible, don’t look for answers to your problems or rules to live by. Instead, look for expressions of God’s character, reminders of His power, and assurance of His promises. Read to know God.
3. Read Expectantly
When I turn to a story that I know well, I’m guilty of assuming God won’t teach me anything new. I’m also guilty of assuming that the priestly sacrifices and traditions in Leviticus are too confusing for me to understand. But over and over again, God proves me wrong.
Often I find that the more times I read a story, the more layers it has, and the more in awe I am of who God is in that story.
Recently I read through Leviticus. Even though I didn’t understand a lot of it, I was surprised at how many notes I did take and how much I did understand.
Come to the Bible expectantly. Ready to find the value and treasure that is hidden in every chapter. Expect that God desires to show you new and deeper truth every time you open it.
4. Read to Remember
When I get ready to spend time in God’s word, I’ve found it helpful to pull out my pen and Quiet Time Companion (or other notebook) along with my Bible. These simple tools remind me to expect God to teach me through His Word and help keep my mind engaged. As I read each chapter I look for verses or notes that I want to remember and I write these down.
I’ve noticed that when I write something out, I’m far more likely to remember it later than if I only make a mental note of it.
We don’t have to settle with spending hours in God’s word without reaping any harvest. God has promised that His word is fruitful, abundant, life-giving, and leads us to JESUS! As Christians, we have the right and the privilege to ask the Author to explain and guide us through His word. We have His very Spirit living within us, ready and willing to turn His word into a well of living water in our lives.
So next time you open your Bible, ask. Ask Jesus for understanding and a love of scripture. Then expectantly look for His goodness on every page.
Believer, do you truly believe that God wants you to know and love Him? Do you believe He will reveal Himself through His word as He has promised?
He does and He will.
Katie lives in a big city near the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Which means she loves a trendy coffee shop as much as the smell of campfire and pine. She currently works as a graphic designer/social media manager/content creator but is most happy while leading worship and discipling younger girls. At 16, Jesus transformed her quiet time from 10 minutes of duty into her favorite part of the day and ever since, Katie has had a passion to encourage and equip others to get into God’s word for the purpose and joy of knowing Jesus.