It’s been about eight years since I first picked up a Bible and read it out of pure desire and intrigue. I’ve had access to a Bible most of my life, but the reality is that it spent most of its being collecting dust on a shelf in my room. Every once in a while, it would get dusted off only to be used as an accessory while attending the yearly Christmas Eve and/or Easter morning church services.
For much of my life, the Bible was nothing more to me than a book, but it wasn’t until I dropped my pride and opened up my eyes that I realized this was no book; it was a lifeline, a safety net, a second chance and an answer to the vast amount of questions I had about my life. I was hooked. My love for Bible did not come easy, but the more and more I spent time in God’s Word, the more I realized how much I truly needed its presence in my life.
1. Take notes.
It’s been said that individuals are three times more likely to remember something when they have written it down or noted it on some type of mobile device. Not only will taking notes help you in your remembrance of what you have just read, but it will also give you content to review and look back on over the course of your spiritual journey.
2. Ask a ton of questions.
There is nothing wrong with asking a lot of questions. In fact, I would encourage you to ask any question that comes to your mind. The more that you initially ask, the better understanding you’ll have of the text you are reading and the purpose in which it was written. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you don’t quite understand everything you see on each page. It’s OK! Everybody has to start somewhere, and the best thing you can do while studying the Bible is ask questions about situations you don’t understand instead of simply assuming and moving forward. Find clarity by questioning what you are reading. God can handle any question you throw at him.
3. Read through the lens of a learner.
Each time I open up my Bible, I act as if it is the first time I’ve ever taken notice of it. In doing this I allow my heart and soul to flow wide open, digesting everything that may come toward me. You will see passages you’ve read a hundred times in a new light, illustrations in a new fashion and stories of faith with a new perspective. Don’t allow yourself to assume that you’ve already learned everything you can from a certain story or passage. Instead, read through the lens of a learner, ready to discover something new that you never noticed the day before.
4. Throw away any preconceived ideas or opinions.
Before you jump into the beauty that is the Bible, I would encourage you to throw away any preconceived ideas or opinions that you may have had prior. Starting with a clean state of thinking will help open your heart and soul to the reality of what God is trying to teach you through each and every word.
5. Visualize the text in an illustrative and poetic way.
Instead of reading the Bible like your everyday textbook, I would persuade one to instead read the Word of God as a piece of poetic art and a story that comes to life page after page. Maybe it’s just the creative in me, but for my personal studies, it helps a ton. In doing this, one can replace the thoughts of the mundane that come along with studying a textbook, and instead, gain a rejuvenated view that sparks the imagination and creates excitement within the soul. The Bible is hands down the most beautiful piece of art this world has ever encountered, and acknowledging this while gazing upon each word will bring to light the story that is The Gospel of Jesus and stimulate continuous desire to read more.
6. Take time to pause and reflect on what you have read.
Without proper meditation and reflection, one can miss out on many things that God could be trying to convey. It’s a healthy practice to take breaks in between sections of reading in order to fully digest and comprehend what one has just read. The Bible was never meant to be rushed through, but instead patiently considered and absorbed.
7. Compare and contrast with at least one other translation.
The beauty of having different types of Bible translations is that one can view the scriptures from many different angles to come up with one’s personal viewpoint and/or understanding. I always encourage individuals to pick at least translations that they can read side-by-side in order to compare and contrast during their journey through biblical text. I’d encourage one to choose a primary version that stays very close to the original Greek writings, and a companion that brings to life the words in a more modern and understandable tone. The contrast between the two will help your knowledge and understanding of the Bible grow both deeper and wider.
8. Take the time to research words and/or illustrations you don’t understand.
Every piece of the Bible has a purpose and not a single word is without waste. Take the time needed to research words and/or illustrations you may not quite understand, all in order to get a better understanding of what is taking place and the reason it was written. Applications like Logos Bible Software or even something as simple as a Key-Word Study Bible will help take your studies to the next level by dissecting words and phrases you may not completely understand at face value.
9. Discuss your thoughts and questions with others around you.
Reading the Bible becomes that much more exciting when one chooses to spend time discussing and meditating with others. Community is such a vital part of the Christ life, and I believe sharing with others what God is teaching you through the Bible plays an important role as it pertains to building a strong and immovable foundation of faith.