Suggestions for Reading the Scripture by George Guthrie

Suggestions for Reading the Scripture by George Guthrie

We want to approach our reading of the Bible in a way that will lead to a fulfilling, faithful, and fruitful pattern of life. Below are a dozen suggestions to make your Bible reading more effective and fulfilling.

1. Read the Bible prayerfully: Engaging the Bible regularly is a spiritual exercise, and you need spiritual power and discernment to do it well. As you begin your Bible reading, ask God for a receptive and disciplined heart, ask Him to speak to you through the Word, and use the passages you read as providing you with thoughts and words you can use as you pray to God.

2. Read expectantly and joyfully: As you pray over your Bible reading, also read it expecting to hear from God, being joyful and thankful for what you find in the Scriptures. Allow the “music” of the Word to give you joy in your walk with God.

3. Meditate on what you are reading: To meditate means to mentally “chew” on what we are reading, to think about what the passage means as well as its implications for belief and practice. Just as food chewed and swallowed too quickly gives indigestion, so we will not be able to digest our Bible readings unless we slow down and consider the “meat” we find there.

4. Read for transformation: The Bible is not meant merely to inform—it is meant to transform us in accordance with God’s truth (Rm 12:1-2). Therefore, read with expectation that you will hear from the Lord. Be thinking about ways to apply God’s truth to your life as you read.

5. Read with perseverance: Commit yourself to being consistent for the next 10 to 12 weeks, which is about how long it takes to form a long-term habit. As you are faithful with your Bible reading and begin to see it make a difference in your life, you will begin to hunger for your time in the Word.

6. Be realistic about the goals you set, and have a good plan: If you take just 20 to 30 minutes per day, you can read through the whole Bible in a year. In just 10 to 15 minutes per day, you can read through the whole Bible in two years. The key is not volume but consistency and a clear plan.

7. Set aside a consistent time and place to read and study the Bible: Make it a time and place that guards you from distractions and allows you to be consistent, missing no more than a handful of times per month. When you do miss a day, just pick back up the next day.

8. Read with a few good tools at hand: Along with this study Bible, have a good Bible dictionary on hand. These typically provide outlines and message summaries of each book of the Bible, plus quick entries on theological, historical, and cultural elements.

9. Read with a pen in hand: Underline key passages and make notes in the margins as you read. As the saying goes, the lightest ink is stronger than the strongest memory. If you prefer a keyboard to an ink pen, store your notes on your computer.

10. Read in light of the immediate context: Not only do we need the “big picture” of the Bible’s overarching story, we also need the “little picture” of the immediate context. So read with an awareness of where you are in the development of a particular book.

11. Do your Bible reading and study as part of a community: It helps if you have family or friends who also are reading the Bible, for they can encourage you and discuss the Bible with you. Become part of a community of Christians, a church, so you can have a place to celebrate what you are learning, to pose questions that come up in your study, and to use your spiritual gifts in ministering to others.

12. Read in light of the overarching story of the Bible: Reading the Bible is much more meaningful if you read it in light of its overarching story. As you read, notice great interwoven themes such as how creation in Genesis 1-2 relates to creation themes in Psalm 8, Isaiah 65:17-25, John 1, Romans 8:19-22, and Revelation 21. Read book introductions in your study Bible, noting where each book fits in the overall development of God’s story.

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