As I speak with believers it is evident that many of them are not doing well spiritually. From young to old I hear about their spiritual lives being “stuck.” In other words, there is no life in their spiritual life. And, almost every time they comment that their Bible reading is adding nothing to their walk with God and, at best, is seriously boring.
As I spoke with them at length and thought about their comments I realized that there are a number of mistakes we make when reading the Bible. Often these mistakes are “life-threatening” and the result of people not being taught when first saved about how to read the Word of God and use it in their lives. Much could be said but let’s start with a few points…
1> Reading the Bible without prayer
The Bible is a spiritual book given to us (inspired) by God Himself. So, it is a mistake to read it like any other book. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers to record the words that now make up our Bible and so the illumination of the Holy Spirit is needed to accurately understand it, and to accurately apply it. Consequently, prayer before and/or after Bible reading is very important. And it is something that we should be reminded about.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
2 Peter 1:21 “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
2> Getting confused or bogged down by the things you don’t understand
While you are reading the Bible, it is very common to come across passages or verses that you just don’t understand. It is a mistake to focus on those things because you lose the flow of the Scripture that you are reading and it bogs you down in the fine details of the passage.It is better to just move on and continue to read past the verse or verses that you don’t currently fully understand and come back to them later.
When you have the time, you can then study the passage or verse that you are wondering about, consult a commentary or two (there are good ones on-line that are reasonably priced or free) and see what others have to say about the passage. A lot of the mysteries in Scripture are resolved when we understand the historical and cultural contexts and there are many resources that will help you to do just that. Or, we discover what the original languages are saying.
So, don’t get tripped up, don’t stop, don’t get stuck. Just move on, continue to read the passage, continue to read the parts that you do understand, and then go back later to those texts that you do not understand.
3> Reading too fast, as if you are reading a novel or other fictional writing.
Again, the Bible is unlike any other book. You can not read it like you would read a novel. The best way to read and apprehend the Scriptures is to read very slowly. And, I would encourage you to read a passage more than one – at the same sitting. And, even read it from a different version or translation during the same devotional time.
But reading slowly is important to grasp the Scriptures. Remember, you are reading for both mental understanding as well as embracing the truths in your spirit.
More next time…