Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Understanding How To Study the Bible: Make It About Quality, Not Quantity

The biggest problem most people make when trying to plan out their daily devotions is that they take on too much at once.  It seems that there's an expectation declaring that the more of the Bible a person reads each day, the closer to God that person will become.  That's not necessarily the case.  If you have the time and attention span to conquer five, six or even ten chapters of the Bible each day, go for it.  I, personally, do not have that much time, nor do I have that kind of attention span.

I've been taught how important it is to read the Bible through in a year, and there are many people who do that, and I commend them for it.  But here's what happens to me when I try to read that much in a single session:  I skim and scan.  Yep, my mind gets overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to read five or six chapters, and I feel the pressure to get it done as quickly as possible because there are five hundred other things that need to be done.  So, I "read" the five or six chapters and walk away without having any idea what I just read.  I didn't comprehend it.  It didn't stick with me.  And because it didn't stick, I wasn't learning or growing.  (Again, let me stress that this is me.  I know of others who read multiple chapters each day and understand fully what they're reading.  God bless them, but I am not among them!)

Several years ago, the Lord began dealing with me about my daily time with Him.  Though I was consistent with my Bible reading, I knew that the way I was approaching the Scriptures was wrong.  So, I began focusing on the quality of my reading rather than the quantity.  Sometimes that meant I read three chapters instead of six.  Other times, I only read a verse or two.  The Lord impressed on my heart that it didn't matter how much of His Word I was reading if I wasn't paying attention to what I read.

As a result, my daily time with God changed drastically.  Instead of rushing to get through because there was just so much, I found myself actually relaxing in God's presence.  I read through the verses purposefully and attentively, stopping to reread anything that didn't make sense to me the first time through.  I stopped to look up words I didn't know and gained a better understanding of what I was reading.  I meditated on verses that spoke to me and allowed God to show me how they applied to my life.  And to this day, this is my method for studying the Bible.  I love it!  It's no longer a dread but a delight.

Please don't let anyone dictate to you how much of the Bible you should or shouldn't be reading each day.  Frankly, it's none of their business.  God has made each of us to be different individuals, and because of those differences, we will often find that the same methods don't work for everyone.  In other words, "how to read the Bible" is not a one-size-fits-all method.  Don't worry about trying to impress others or to follow the instructions of some religious leader when it comes to the amount of Bible reading you do per day.  That is between you and God.  Pray and ask Him to help you discover what method will work best for you and will give you the greatest appreciation of the joyous love letter the Lord has given us.  If He impresses on you to read and meditate on a single verse, then that's what you should do.  After all, it's better to meditate on a single verse and allow that verse to get ahold of you than to read several chapters and walk away unchanged.

Think quality, not quantity!

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! - Psalm 119:103

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