Would you like to get more out of your daily Bible reading? We all find ourselves at times going through the motions but missing the meaning. Routines very easily become ruts. Vance Havner used to say that “a rut is just a grave with both ends knocked out of it!”
Here are 5 practical ways to breath new life into your devotional reading of Scripture…
- Pray your way through. If you want to get more out of your reading of Scripture, don’t just read it! Turn each verse to prayer – talk to God about what He is talking to you about. Because each passage is unique you will find that the prayers that grow out of them will vary – confession, praise, intercession, petition, thanksgiving, worship – but, as you pray the spiritual application of the passage will begin to open to you. Here is a prayer you can pray in every passage: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18).
- Change it up. Systematic reading plans are helpful, but there are times to vary your reading of Scripture. Recently I sensed a need to take a detour from my “plan” and spend some time in the Psalms. Sometimes we need to slow down and read it again…and again…and again. Schedules are not as important as spiritual health. Don’t be afraid to pitch your tent in a passage and camp there for awhile. “Selah.” Be sensitive to divine promptings. Dr. Frank Sells used to say regarding devotional habits that we should not be a slave to anything but Jesus! Do not feel guilty for varying time, place, length of reading, or any other detail. Remember the goal is God.
- Read out loud. Philip came upon the Ethiopian eunuch as he sat in his chariot reading Isaiah 53. “And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?” (Acts 8:30) The ancient custom was to read aloud. I personally have found great profit in this. When you read out loud your eyes, mouth, ears, and mind are all working together! It aids in concentration and helps to minimize distraction.
- Write it out. Effective reading and effective writing are always connected. It is true that your mind works as your pen moves. In our day of voice texting and abbreviated messaging the discipline of writing is being lost. Have you ever considered the profit of writing out portions of Scripture? I do this periodically in my journal with key verses and am considering doing so with more extensive portions of Scripture. The kings of Israel were commanded to write out their own copy of the law. “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites” (Deuteronomy 17:18). In addition to keeping it before us, the time it takes to write out the text encourages observation (what it says), reflection (what it means), and application (what we should do with it).
- Pass it on. I am convinced that this is one of the untapped secrets of Bible study. God intends that as we study we begin to teach…and as we teach we come to understand even more! This principle is true in all of God’s dealings: give what you have and God will keep giving. “Give, and it shall be given unto you…” (Luke 6:38). “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance…” (Matthew 13:12). Take what you are reading and bring it into every day conversation. The Holy Spirit will work on both ends, ministering to others and enlarging your own understanding.
May God bless you this week as you “give attendance to reading” (1 Timothy 4:13).