How to Read Your Bible
A few weeks ago, I shared some thoughts on the importance of reading the Bible. Click Here if you missed it. The main point was that Grace Church truly aims at being disciples verse by verse. In order to be a church who are disciples verse by verse, we all need to invest verse by verse! I still frequently stress the importance of daily Bible reading to our Youth Group. But I realized while I am constantly on them about reading their Bibles, I should equally be teaching them HOW to read their Bibles.
How many of us do this regularly? We tell our friends, our kids, our co-workers, "Read your Bibles," but we don't adequately equip them with how to read the book. Telling people to read their Bible and then not showing them how is like telling your son to ride their bike without teaching or showing him how. The excited son might try a handful of times but eventually give up because they are not really experiencing what that bike offers. Why? Because no one has shown this boy how to ride it. Let's not just tell people to read their Bibles, but teach/show how to read in a way that is honoring to God and beneficial to the reader.
Let's all be honest. Reading the Bible can sometimes be boring, frustrating, intense, and confusing. These are some of the reasons that cause people (maybe even you) to set this book down. To only bring it to church on Sundays and Wednesdays and never open it in-between those days. What if there were methods and tools that we could approach the Holy Scriptures with to help us understand, comprehend, and enjoy what it's saying?
So, piggybacking off my last article, I want to share a few of my favorite Bible reading/studying methods I've found to be very helpful! These aren't complicated, but simple. You can try these out personally and share them with those people in your life who need some help.
INDUCTIVE BIBLE STUDY:
This is probably one of the most used and shared methods of studying any text in the Bible. (It's the one I start with when I'm preaching.) Here is a very simple version. Many resources and books offer more in-depth ways to go through this method.
Pick a section of Scripture and take it through the following filters.
Observation: What does it say?
Keywords: What words are most repeated? Any other important words you notice?
Details: Are there any comparisons, contrasts, lists, emphasis, repetition, emotion, or figures of speech?
Core Questions: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY?
Interpretation: What does it mean?
Re-read each verse, and write the meaning of what the author is saying in your own words.
Check the context. Do the passages before and after support your understanding of the meaning?
Cross-References Do any verses elsewhere in the Bible support or contradict your interpretation?
Application: What do I do?
Is there a sin to avoid, forsake or confess?
Is there a promise to claim with conditions to meet?
Is there an attitude to change?
Is there a command to obey?
Is there an example to follow?
Is there a prayer to sincerely repeat?
Is there a doctrinal error to avoid?
Is there a truth to meditate on or memorize?
Is there something to thank God for?
CHAPTER OVERVIEW METHOD:
A method from "Learn to Study the Bible" by Andy Deane.
If you're like me, I like to read around one chapter a day. This is a great method for those who take it chapter by chapter! After you've read the chapter, go back through it with these insightful questions.
Call It: What would you call the chapter? Give the chapter a title, be descriptive and creative.
Compact the Story: Summarize, outline, or paraphrase the entire chapter.
What is Cryptic: What questions or problems do you have with understanding the meaning? Can you find answers?
Cross-References: What other passages in the Bible help you to understand this chapter?
Considerable People: Who are the notable characters in the chapter? Why are they included? What is significant about them?
Compelling Words: Do you notice any key or repeated words or phrases?
Critical Verse: What is your favorite verse, and why do you like it so much?
Christ Sightings: Is Jesus mentioned in the chapter? If not, does anything in the text remind you of Him? Look carefully—He is there!
Central Lesson: What is the main point of this chapter? What idea weaves it together?
Create an Application: What has God shown you in this chapter? What is your response to the knowledge you have gained?
DAILY BREAD METHOD:
Another method from "Learn to Study the Bible" by Andy Deane.
Step 1: Choose a passage, paragraph, or chapter to study.
Step 2: Pray—Ask God to meet with you.
Step 3: Think about the passage you are studying.
Picture It: Visualize the scene. Imagine how you would react if you were there. How would you have felt to be a part of what was going on? Is there anything in your life today that you can compare to this situation?
Pronounce It: Read the verse around several times, placing emphasis on a different word each time.
Paraphrase It: Restating the passage in your own words helps you to understand it better. Using contemporary language to express timeless biblical truths helps you bridge the gap between the past and present.
Personalize It: Put your name in place of the nouns and pronouns used in the Scripture and read it aloud.
Pray It: Make the verse a prayer. The best way to express faith in God is by taking the promises and truths found in His Word and praying them back to Him.
Step 4: Plan one application. Write down one application based on the insights you have discovered through your study of the text.
Step 5: Carry your favorite verse with you. Keep a notecard in your pocket, or make the verse your screensaver!