Bible Reading: Helpful Tool #2
It is important to remember that the Spiritual Discipline of Bible Reading is not just about reading words on a page but about consciously engaging with God. Begin by acknowledging His presence and asking Him to meet with you. Ask Him to open your eyes and speak to your heart. Then read with a desire, not just to learn, but to listen to God. Our motivations and intention for reading the Bible make a big difference to our approach.
When it comes to actually reading the Bible one the of the big questions is how much should I read and how do I choose what to read. Should I just read a verse for each day? Should I read large chunks? Is it just a matter of random passages or is there a particular structure?
St. Augustine offers some wisdom regarding quantity of Bible reading. In a chapter entitled “How we should proceed in studying Scripture” he suggests that we need to have a broad overview and familiarity with the Bible as a whole before we can hope to properly understand the smaller and complex portions. Then we can slowly steep deeper and deeper into the increasingly complex portions of the Bible. His primary point is that we can’t properly understand the obscure parts if we don’t grasp the context or the more familiar parts. [On Christian Doctrine, Book 2, Chapter 9]
Augustine’s advice is helpful when it comes to what we read. Both large and small portions are important. Large portions help us to gain a bigger perspective and context for what we are reading – but it can be hard to memorize and meditate on large portions. Smaller portions are helpful for day to day engagement. Therefore, my point is, read larger chunks of Scripture so that you take care to consider context [and so you aren’t still reading through Jude six months later], but engage with smaller portions throughout the day.
This is where reading plans can be of immense help. They give some intention and structure to what you read. I highly recommend the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan. It generally provides 5 passages a day; a few chapters from the OT, a chapter from a NT epistle, a reading from one of the Gospels, and a Psalm. Reading from a variety of passages each day helps to connect all of the Bible together and offers a number of literary styles to meditate on. This particular plan also includes five or six rest days each month, so you don’t fall behind if you miss some of the readings.
The YouVersion app, mentioned in yesterday’s helpful hint, has an immense range of reading plans. Some of them last a few days, some of them are plans for an entire year. Some of these plans simply link you to the daily reading, while others also include helpful devotional thoughts or videos. Along with the “Discipleship Journal Reading Plan” YouVersion also includes a year long ‘Reformation Reading Plan’, which I found beneficial.
Though these are practical suggestions, what is of most importance is that you seek to meet with God through the reading of His words.