I haven’t always read the Bible. When I was younger, it was the book that I was “supposed” to read but usually did not. Years later, I went through a period of time when I read many books about the Bible but rarely read the Bible itself. Finally, I began reading the Bible on a regular basis.
Now I read the Bible in two different ways:
1. I read the Bible for daily nourishment. Typically, I do this kind of reading in the mornings. Over the past few months, I have read through Genesis and now Exodus. I am not trying to hurry through the Bible. Nor am I trying to accomplish anything as I read. Rather, this is a part of just being with the Lord and reading Scripture and praying. Sometimes I will read several paragraphs or even several chapters. On other days, I might read a much smaller portion. Some days, I feel nourished and encouraged after I read. On other days, I don’t have these feelings. Still I believe that God will bless this time in the Bible whether I feel anything at the moment or not.
2. I read the Bible slowly, like cooking a meal in a crock pot. Most anything cooked in a crock pot takes a long time. This kind of reading needs time. No quick meal here. Turn the crock pot on low and just let it simmer.
I am simply trying to listen to God’s message through whatever book of the Bible I happen to be reading. When classes or messages from the book are weeks or months away, it is much easier to slow down and simply listen.
At the moment there are eight large sheets (approximately 18 inches across and 13 inches from top to bottom) of paper in front of me. Copied on these large sheets of paper is the book of 2 Corinthians. I have read this book at one sitting on about six different occasions. I find that reading the book through at one sitting helps me hear the message of the book. If you were to look at this paper with me, you would see much underlining in a variety of colors. For example, one day I will read the book with a yellow highlighter underlining every mention of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit. I will also underline whatever characteristic or action is noted about them. The next day I will read with a different colored highlighter. On this day, for example, I highlighted every reference to ministry. Now, every mention of Paul’s difficulties or suffering in ministry is highlighted in green.
For this project I used the New Revised Standard Version. I normally read from the New International Version but wanted to use something with language that would not be as familiar. Reading from a translation that I don’t normally use allows me to hear words that I am not used to hearing from the more familiar NIV.
By the way, I love the comment Max Mclean made the other day regarding books and reading. He listed a number of authors, books, and newspapers that he reads regularly. In the course of making this comment he said that he reads the Bible “mostly out loud.” Now I have read through the Psalms and James out loud several times but not any other books. This could be a very helpful practice and I am considering doing this with 2 Corinthians.
What brings you the greatest joy in your Bible reading?
What do you do practically in your Bible reading that others might find very helpful?