Saturday, January 30, 2010

Two Essential Secrets to Bible Reading

One of the reasons that many people view Bible reading as a chore is that we often go about it the wrong way. First, we do it just like we would do homework or preparing a report for work: we try to just sit down and do it. But the Bible is not simply a book. It is a message from the Living God. The Bible even says that its words are "living and active" (Hebrews 4:12). There is something spiritual going on here. We can't experience the Bible meaningfully apart from experiencing God. So we need to pray and invite God to act as we read. Here's a promise I love: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." (James 1:5). My habit now is to ask God for help and understanding every time I sit down to read the Bible.

So don't try to go about Bible reading mechanically, like digesting a math assignment. It's a spiritual thing, and you need to go about it in a spiritual way. Pray for God's help, pray about what you read, and listen to the words to see if God stirs anything in your heart. When you hit something that really moves you, stop and spend some time thinking about it and asking God to show you what He wants you to do with that.

A second problem with our Bible reading is that most of us do it because we think we're supposed to. That's like saying we have to eat because we're supposed to. Yes, we are supposed to eat. Life doesn't function well if we don't. But are we stuck eating dirt and grass? No - we have an incredible variety to choose from, and we can usually eat what we enjoy! The same thing is true of Bible reading. Reading your Bible is a gift - it's something God has given to you in order to help you find the life He created you to enjoy. So approach it expecting something good to happen. Don't do it in the hope that if you stick with it for the rest of your life, God will approve of you. That's not how faith works.

God approves of those who trust in Him and pursue a relationship with Him in the heart. He doesn't keep score of your obedience to see if you've made the cut. He pays attention to whether you have the right attitude about Him and really want to know Him. He looks to see if you want to experience what He has prepared for you. So don't read your Bible as if you can earn God's blessings by doing your homework faithfully. Read your Bible with hope, trusting God that if you spend time with Him in the words He has given you, something wonderful will happen. In other words, do it because you are trusting Him that you will find satisfaction if you seek it through Him.

No comments: