Christians all over the world are blessed to have complete accessibility to the Bible. Even if you cannot afford to go to a bookstore and buy one, there are numerous places to obtain Bibles for free. Not to mention, most of us keep a smartphone in our pocket that can look up verses at the touch of a screen.
With such wide accessibility to the Bible, many of us sometimes forget what a blessing it is to be able to read Scripture at any time.
Possession of Bible would result in persecution in numerous other countries around the world, but we have the freedom to open up Scripture and hear God’s Word. Obviously, we should take this opportunity and read the Bible, something that far too few of us actually do in our daily lives. But what if I told you that reading the Bible is only the beginning of where God’s Word can lead on your faith journey?
Pastor and author David Mathis writes for Desiring God that Christians are to make the most of the Bible. Yes, it starts with reading. But because the Bible is “no ordinary book,” our study should take us beyond just reading the words on the pages.
Mathis suggests that we enjoy the Bible in the following ways:
1. Ask questions about it.
What good is reading if you do not understand it? When you encounter a difficult or confusing passage, ask about the meaning. You can do this in one of two ways: Ask God in prayer for comprehension, or ask another person (such as a pastor) to help you understand the meaning of the text.
Mathis writes, “Don’t be afraid to pause and pose questions — the simplest kind and the very hardest — and then expect to find answers. And be ready to do what it takes to pursue them. We call this Bible study. And it can be time-consuming, and greatly rewarding. Perhaps the main obstacle that keeps us from doing it well today isn’t that we’re not smart enough, but that we’re too lazy to put in the energy to ask the hard questions, and the time it takes to really pursue the answers.”
2. Meditate on it.
The Bible is not for speed-reading. Instead, slow down and ponder what you’re reading. When you come across a verse that you find meaningful to your life, meditate on it. Read the passage multiple times, and allow it to speak into your situation.
We know that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). But we cannot fully grasp the Bible’s valuable teaching when we blast through Scripture like an out of control tornado. Slow down and think.
Mathis says, “Meditation funnels our Bible intake to the heart. It takes the mental work of reading (and study) and presses it down into our emotions to better feel the weight of the meaning. Meditation also pairs well with Bible memory, and the most fruitful memorization, I’ve found, is a rigorous form of meditation.”
3. Use it to pray.
Do you just get the Bible off the shelf and read? Or do you pray over your time in Bible study, asking the Lord to point you to the passages he wishes you to see? And your prayers should not stop there!
Mathis suggests, “You might want to pray back to God the precise words of the biblical text, quoting back to him exactly what he’s saying to us. But another way to ‘pray the Bible’ is to take in his words, meditate on them, press them to our hearts and make them our own, and then pray back to God, in our own words, in view of what we’ve heard from him in his speaking to us.”
“We haven’t yet learned the fullness of what to do with a Bible if it’s not inspiring and guiding our prayers.”
4. Obey what you read.
“He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” (Luke 11:28)
If you know that the law says do not steal, and you do it anyway, you should not be surprised when you go to jail. In the same way, it does not make sense to read the Bible, and disobey its teaching.
“When we open the Bible, we come into contact with the King of kings. Through Christ, we approach his throne of grace. Hearing his words, and not obeying them, is a ticking time bomb. He is patient and kind (Romans 2:4). He makes his sun to rise on the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). He is patient toward us, not wanting any to perish (2 Peter 3:9). But he will not always suffer our disobedience,” writes Mathis.
5. Share it with others.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
How many times have we heard these verses, and yet, many of us struggle with this part of Bible study. But we are told not to hide our light from from others (Matthew 5:15-16). We have this light because of our faith. We do not glorify God when we keep it to ourselves.
Strange though it may seem at first, Mathis suggests we try the following:
“Invite a neighbor, co-worker, or friend to sit down with you and read a brief passage together, perhaps from the Gospels, and discuss for a few minutes. Taking God’s very words in the Bible as the catalyst for interaction is powerful. One-on-one Bible reading may be the single most effective step you can take to bring a nonbeliever to faith.”
If you are find yourself struggling to read the Bible, ask yourself why. Is it due to time constraints? Boredom? A feeling of separation from God? There may be stretches during your faith walk that reading the Bible may seem like a burden, but friends, it is not.
Crosswalk.com contributing writer Amy Green says, “Whenever the Bible talks about spending time with God through reading the Word, it’s never in the context of a burden. Just take a look at Romans 15:4, ‘For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.’ I don’t know about you, but I could use more hope in my life.