How to Read the Bible for Growth

Don’t make this too hard. For many years, I idolized reading my Bible cover-to-cover every year. Don’t do this. In fact, even if this is a habit for you, ask yourself why you’re doing it.

There is nothing in the Bible that even suggests or hints that reading it through in a year is profitable. It’s an arbitrary goal that was set many years ago and has been popularized in contemporary Christianity. It’s neither good nor bad, but for many, it creates a false sense of spirituality when completed or guilt when not completed.

When we read the Bible, we want to connect with God and learn about God’s character, values, and desires for the world. Pick a reading schedule that focuses on these things.

Something as simple as this will work: “God, Creator of the universe, open my heart and my mind to learn about you. Help me to grow into your image.”

The point of this prayer is to settle your mind, focus your thoughts, and get you grounded in your connection with God.

On the first reading, read the passage through for familiarity, asking God what you need to see or understand in the passage. Pay attention to a word, detail, image, or phrase that God uses to get your attention.

Example: In Psalm 1, God might draw your attention to the chaff that blows in the wind and contrasts with the firmly rooted tree. God may be using this image to teach you that your connection with God is not as strong as you thought it was.

On the second reading, ask God what you need to do about what you are seeing or learning.

Example: God may be using the image of the chaff to teach you to refocus on prayer and spirituality practices to strengthen your connection to God.

Finally, on the third reading, ask God how you need to respond to what you learned.

Example: God may lead you to commit to a renewed time of prayer each morning, or to more Bible reading, as a way to strengthen your connection with God.

It’s good to write down your thoughts, even if they are just a sentence or two. The act of writing helps you fix your thoughts in your mind and take action. It isn’t important whether you write two sentences or two paragraphs, only that you do something to remember what you learned from this reading exercise.

Prayer helps us strengthen our connection with God. By praying through what God taught us in the Bible, we are yielding ourselves to God, and growing into God’s will. Prayer helps us to do all this.

Tomorrow, I’ll teach you three simple steps to praying more effectively.

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