Have you ever read the Bible in a year? I did along with my hubby a couple years ago. It was a great experience and broadened my understanding of the Word. The problem was that it became very tempting to just read quickly through the passages so that I could check them off my list. There! I read my Bible for the day. Done! Is that really how God wants us to read the Bible? As fast as possible so we can cross it off our to do list? I don’t think so.
There are quite a few places in the Bible where it actually talks about how the book should be read. I had heard several of them, but had never made the connection that this picture was mentioned so much before my pastor at Crossway Church talked about it yesterday. The Bible says that we should eat it. Eat God’s word.
Revelation 10:9 “So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, ‘Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.'”
Ezekiel 3:1-3 “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.’ So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.’ So I ate it and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.”
Jeremiah 15:16 “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.”
In Psalm 1:2, the Hebrew word for “meditate” is actually the same one used to describe a lion gnawing on its prey. We are to gnaw on the Bible like a dog gnaws on a bone.
The New Testament also calls Jesus the Bread of Life (John 6:35) and He is the Word (John 1:1). The Bible is also compared to meat and milk (1 Cor. 3:2). It’s great to read the Bible, but we need to slow down and really gnaw on it.
How does that work? Once you have prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to teach you, here are some ideas on how to eat the book:
1. Use your senses: When learning or studying anything, the more senses you use, the more likely you are to remember it and understand it. Write it down, look at it and say it out loud.
2. Keep it with you: Write it down on a 3×5 note card that you can keep with you. As you learn more verses, you can punch holes in them and put them in a small binder or put rings through them to keep them all together. Take your cards with you as you go about your day and pull them out when you have a minute of down time to think about them.
3. Be creative: If you’re an artistic person, try drawing out the verse in pictures to help it sink in. Or, if you’re more musical, make it into a song. I don’t know much sign language, but sometimes I will add hand motions when I teach my youngest child verses. Works for us big people, too. It helps me to really think about what the verse says.
4. Write it out: Try writing the verse or verses out a few times. If the verse includes a list of things, write them as a list. For example, you could write 1 Peter 2:9 this way:
“But you are
a chosen people
a holy nation
a people belonging to God
that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”
I like words and grammar and such, so I like taking those long, complex sentences that the Apostle Paul writes and breaking them by phrases.
5. Think it over: What does the verse mean? How does it apply to you? The point isn’t to just say the right words, but to understand it and really know it. Ask questions about it. Say you’re working on Ephesians 1:3. “Praise be to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” What does it really mean to be blessed? Where are the heavenly realms? What are some of the spiritual blessings the author is talking about? What does it mean to be blessed “in Christ”? Pray about things that don’t make sense and don’t be afraid to talk to someone else to help you understand a verse.
What about you? What helps you really absorb God’s word into your life?