Introduction To Bible Reading!

Many individuals struggle with reading the Bible. Some focus on studying at the expense of devotion, while others reduce the Bible to an old, dead historical text, removing any living and active communication from the scriptures. Here, I will describe a four-stage process of reading the Bible that will help you glean from it all that it truly is.

Step 1: Read

During the reading step, you should read a short passage from the sacred text slowly, attentively, and regularly. The goal is not to rush through the text, but to immerse yourself in it. Also, read regularly. The Bible is breathed out by God; it is a spiritual book that is only understood spiritually. It can be compared to learning a different language. Language learning only takes place through immersion, and if we want to be good students of scripture, we must immerse ourselves in the Bible.
You might read the passage multiple times in different translations to allow the meaning of the words to sink in. I would encourage you to read a word-for-word translation like the KJV and NASB, alongside a thought-for-thought or dynamic equivalency translation like the NIV, ESV, or NLT.

Step 2: Study

When studying, you want to dig deeper into the scripture’s text. Good students ask good questions. Here are some questions to jumpstart your study process: When and where was this text written? Who was the author of the text? To whom was the text originally addressed? What was happening in society during that time? What is the literary genre of the text? Is this a narrative, poetry, prophecy, letter, parable, or another hybrid genre? How is the text structured? Is the author repeating phrases or words throughout the passage? Are there any figures of speech or rhetorical devices used? Are there any textual variations or ambiguities in our manuscripts? As you ask these questions, you should be looking for the historical-grammatical context of the text. Often, you will need study materials and resources to answer some of these questions. Since most of us do not have a library of commentaries, I recommend some of these resources. and both offer free commentaries and study tools. Also, I highly recommend a Scribd subscription. For around $10 a month, you have access to all of Scribd’s audiobooks and digital books. I often use Scribd’s systematic theologies, biblical theologies, and commentaries during my study process.

Step 3: Meditate

After the initial reading and study of scripture, you should meditate on the key themes, words, and phrases that stood out to you. As you read the Bible more and more, the meditation step will help you recognize the repeated themes and cyclical patterns that biblical authors use. I encourage readers to engage their imagination in the meditation process to absorb the images communicated in prophetic and poetic literature. For example, imagine yourself at the birth of Jesus with the shepherd boys. Imagine yourself at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion scene. Imagine yourself with John, seeing Jesus in His glory. You should not let your imagination run wild beyond the text. Instead, you should engage your imagination within the direction of the biblical text. This is a reflective step where you consider the meaning of the text and how it might apply to your life.

Step 4: Prayer

In this step, you turn your meditations into a dialogue with God. You respond to the text through prayer, sharing your thoughts, feelings, and questions with a sense of openness and vulnerability. Perhaps the text has exposed a shortcoming in your life, reminded you of God’s goodness, or challenged your faith. Take this moment to repent, worship, or ask for wisdom and guidance.

I trust that these 4 steps will encourage, guide, and strengthen your reading of the Holy Scripture as much as they have mine.