You've been there before. You are sitting down in the morning, coffee in hand, with your Bible in front of you. As you open the pages you turn to the Psalms and begin to read. As you read through the Psalm you are comforted, encouraged, convicted, or maybe challenged. After a short time you close your Bible, get ready for the day, and feel a little discouraged because if you're honest with yourself, you can't remember hardly anything you just read.
If that describes you, you suffer from what many readers in general have known as non-digestive reading. Non-digestive reading means you read (newspaper, Bible, book, etc.) without digesting what you've read. So many times I have started to read a book, get 40 pages into it, and sit back and think 'what did I just read?' I fear this is all too common among Christians with their Bibles. They are faithful in opening their Bibles and reading, but sadly it is just non-digestive reading. What they read doesn't consume their mind and thoughts throughout the day. This stunts growth in Christ and ultimately leaves them discouraged. Sound like where you are at? Don't be discouraged. I want to help by sharing with you a few things I learned from Howard Hendricks. Dr. Hendricks was a long time professor at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, TX. He is the author of a book titled Living By The Book. In the book, he walks the reader in a step by step process in how they can get the most out of their Bible reading. In the book he gives three things every Christian should do in order to saturate their minds with God's Word. Here are the Three R's:
This sounds simple, but as Hendricks explains, this is often where we fail, "This may seem obvious. Yet too many "readers" are nothing but browsers. They turn pages the way they flip through channels on a TV set, looking for something to catch their interest. The Word doesn't lend itself to that sort of approach. It requires conscious, concentrated effort. So read portions of Scripture over and over. The more you read them, the more clear they will become."
"Keep a record of your insights and questions. I don't know how many times someone has said to me, 'Prof, what I have to write down is not very good.' Yet the fact is, you can't build on something you don't have. So start where you are, even with very elementary things. Everyone starts at the same place." Buy a small journal and bring it with you wherever you read your Bible. Write down things you see, things you have questions about, and ways God has challenged you through what you have read.
This is vital. Hendricks says, "Take some time to think about what you've seen. Ask yourself: What's going on in this passage? What is it telling me about God? About myself? What do I need to do on the basis of what I'm reading here? Reflection is vital to understanding God's Word."
I challenge you to follow Hendricks' Three R's when reading your Bible. They have been important for me and incredibly important for many believers who want their Bible reading to 'stick'. Do you have a method you use when reading the Bible? Comment and let us know!
I am a Husband to Clarissa, Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church, reader of many books, and tweeter at @brad_merchant.