So here’s a very short explanation of how I approach Bible study. I’ve done some version of this since about 1985. Obviously, I’ve put it to the test. It works for me. It may not for you. And yes, I constantly am tweaking it and no, not worrying if I deviate from it. It serves me; I don’t serve it.
This is essentially my own version of Lectio Divina, which I wrote about yesterday.
1. I decide on a plan. There are many, many reading plans available. Hundreds and Hundreds… All the way from reading through the Bible in one year (You really have to march to do this) to reading as little as one verse a day. My current plan has me always reading through one of the Gospels (because it’s important for me to be reading and meditating on the words of Jesus), along with something from the Psalms, Proverbs or other books from the Old and New Testament. … My advice: Start with something small, something you think you’d like and at which you have a chance of success. Still, you do have to decide and jump in the water.
2. I write down in my journal the date and the passage I will read. Then I proceed to read, sometmes aloud, especially when reading from the Gospels, and when I am alone (of course). These days I almost always read from the Biblegateway site on my laptop computer, not from a Bible on my bookshelf. I like Biblegateway because I can add several different parallel readings on the screen at the same time. I mostly read from the New International Verson (NIV) [which I cut my teeth on as a young believer] and the English Standard Version (ESV) [which I have grown to really like in the last 8 or 9 years]. I like to have them side by side when I am reading. Sometimes I will check out The Message or the New Living Translations, too. So I’ll have 4 parallel translations on my screen all at once. Normally I put up just the NIV and the ESV.
3. After I’ve read the passage, I simply write down in my journal what I think the passage means. I write this heading: What does this mean? Pretty complicated, huh? I then write very simple, short sentences with what I think it means: a._______, b._________, c._______ I write whatever pops into my mind about the passage.
4. Next I skip a space in my journal and write this heading: What is God saying? Again, I write very simple short sentences. What I think the passage is saying and what God may be saying to me from the passage are sometimes very different. I take a few minutes here, thinking, mulling the text, even waiting quietly, perhaps just looking at the text on my screen, breathing slowly, pondering and wondering. Often before I actually write anything I will actually set my watch for 2 minutes and sit back in my chair with my hands on my lap turned with my palms facing up. I sit, think and meditate about what I’ve read for 2 minutes, wondering what God may be saying. I want to be in a posture where I am ready to receive. Here is where you might say, “I let the Bible read me.” Occasionally this 2 minutes will go much longer. Then I write down what I think I am hearing from God.
5. When I feel I’ve written, as best I can, what it is I think God is saying, I skip a line in my journal and write this heading: What do I think about what God said? In other words, do I agree with what I feel God said and how I am I going to live today with that knowledge?
Them is the basics… 🙂