One of my life goals is to live with my Bible. I want it to be a more intimate and ever-present reality than my phone, my tablet, my television, my PS4. I want a life soaked in Scripture – so soaked, in fact, that it helps form and articulate my every thought.
Here, I’d like to revisit some older ideas I’ve talked about in other venues about how that might happen.
1. READ THE BIBLE
The first thing that needs to happen is I need to read my Bible. By that, I mean I need to regularly treat the Bible like a story. That requires me reading chapters at a time without stopping. Over time, this helps me know the story better. It helps me make connections and develop themes I might otherwise miss if I only read a few verses at a time.
2. STUDY THE BIBLE
The second thing that needs to happen is I need to study my Bible. If reading helps me see the forrest for the trees, studying is stopping to look at the trees. This can happen in a lot of ways. You might pick a book and study through it one passage at a time, asking the hard questions about context, ancient words, audience, and modern application. Or, you might read your Bible with a notebook, jotting questions or developing themes, or observations down as you read, and go back and work through those in your study times. The possibilities are endless.
3. MEDITATE ON THE BIBLE
The third thing that needs to happen is I need to meditate on Scripture. This is where I pause over a particular passage and just sit with it and pray with it for a while. Turn it around in your head. Don’t get in a rush to move past it. You might sit in alternating periods of silence and prayer with it. You might practice the ancient discipline of lectio divina.
As you might imagine, all three things work together to provide a fuller experience with God’s word than any one of them might on their own. Familiarity with the biblical story, which is gained from reading your Bible, will help you locate the text you are studying in a proper context. It will allow you to see how your text fits into larger themes. Similarly, your study will help bring the larger story into sharper focus. It will define the shape and detail of those themes you pick up on while reading.
And meditation, of course, is about that long, difficult journey from head to heart. It is where you invite God into your life and ask him to put his word to work in it. This both feeds off of reading and study and energizes those endeavors.