I read my Bible a lot differently than I did when I first became a Christian decades ago. Back then, I just read it. I mean, I’d open it up, usually somewhere in the Gospels, and then just read. As a new Christian, God so blessed me by having things just highlight off the page – it was as if the Holy Spirit took a yellow highlighter pen and said, “This is for YOU! Pay attention to it.” Those days were awesome, and my love of the Word grew because of it.
As the time went by, however, things changed. I noticed my old, reliable method of just simply reading the Bible wasn’t producing the results I wanted as frequently. The “highlighter pen” wasn’t working! So, I began to pray this verse before I read the Bible:
“Open my eyes, Lord, that I may behold wonderful things in your law (Word).”Psalm 119:18
This prayer is still what I pray today before reading His Word.
The Bible is a spiritual book and must be read as such. Without the Spirit of God working within the reader, one can read the Bible and not see the hand of the Creator, as He divinely inspired the authors of the Bible. Without an open heart to see the truth, a person can study the Bible and yet never know God. I personally know people who have done that, and I know of others, not personally but online, who study the Bible without having a connection to the Spirit to know its Author. Instead, they criticize it, tearing it apart.
This is why I believe that without a humble, seeking heart, with the Spirit of God leading, reading the Bible may not produce any “ah-ha!” moments in a person’s life. We must be open to truth and have a humble heart. The arrogant intellect won’t receive the spiritual truths written in the Bible, but the one who seeks with a soft heart will be changed by it. What a contrast!
As we mature in the Lord, He asks us to grow in our ways with Him, and this includes our reading His Word. As a young believer, there were days that I would play what I jokingly refer to as “Bible roulette,” when I would seek an answer to a prayer by randomly opening up my Bible and wherever my finger landed, I would read the verse for an answer. (C’mon, I know some of you have done that, too!) And surprisingly, God did answer some prayers that way – but rarely. Again, as a new Christian, I think God allows that kind of thing to happen because, just like a parent to a newly-walking toddler, He is there to catch us when we fall and help us learn to walk confidently. But once we learn to walk in confidence of His love for us, like a good parent, He then wants us to grow in our new abilities. Our ways need to mature.
I think what happens to some Christians is that they stop at the toddler stage. What once worked with Bible reading will always work for them, they say. And yeah, I guess that could be the case for some. But not for me.
Instead, over the years, God has challenged me to dig deeper, using resources like commentaries and theologian’s writings that expound on concepts that are not always easily discerned, like the Doctrine of the Trinity, for example. Literally thousands of years of amazing Christian thought has been laid out before us on tough concepts that are grappled with by Christian thinkers today. Why not learn from some of them?
So when I read my Bible today, I don’t just read it. I pray before I read it, and then I study it. I’ve tried those daily Bibles so many times, but I ‘epic fail’ at keeping up with them simply because I get stuck on a concept that I want to dig deeper into, like certain word usages or concepts that appear new to me. Instead of just getting through the daily reading, I spend a certain amount of allotted time, say 30 minutes, wherever I want to learn more and delve into a fuller meaning.
How I Spend Time in the Word
I was reading in a daily Bible (yes, I do use them but I just don’t sweat it if I can’t keep up) in the Book of Psalms. My eyes stopped a Psalm 8:8, on a concept I just had to investigate! It says this:
“…the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.”Psalm 8:8
What struck me was this: “the paths of the seas.” Wait… what? This Psalm of David was estimated to have been written in 1015 B.C. — three THOUSAND years ago? How could David have known that there are indeed paths in the oceans? David could not have known this without the inspiration of the Spirit of God; once again, showing that the Bible is truly divine.
This just amazes me and makes me love the Word of God even more! This way of reading the Bible never gets boring! When I simply ‘pray and stay’ in a place or phrase that intrigue me, I take the time to look things up, and I always learn something new.
Tools You Can Use
Some of my favorite Bibles are: CSB Apologetic Study Bible, The Daily Bible (in chronological order), and the NET Bible. Some of my favorite online commentaries are: Bible Hub, Bible Study Tools, and the Blue Letter Bible.
If you don’t like to read much, you can always find an audible version or a podcast (for free!) that reads the bible to you. Even Amazon’s “Alexa” device will read the Bible to you (that’s the way my 17-year old son likes to go through the Bible.)
Find Your Own Path
It’s important to remember that not everyone is wired the same. For some, the Daily Bible readings are awesome and people are content with that study. For others, reading is not even a thing; instead, they listen to the Word on an audible version. For me, a geeky nerd, I like to study it, to discover the treasure trove of wisdom in nuggets, as I camp out in certain areas of the Bible for longer periods of time. Whatever is your best way learning, choose that path and as you grow, let God lead you down other, interesting pathways of discovery.
God’s Word is a Spiritual love-letter to all of humanity, if we only take the time to see the wonders He’s laid out before us in the holy books of the Bible. And remember, God calls the more mature to learn differently and to grow in our knowledge.
Do you read the Bible in any unique ways? I’d love to hear your answers below. Thanks for stopping by!