Once upon a time, two little girls invited Mimi for story hour. A library had been created and books had been selected for reading. An audience of baby dolls and stuffed animals had been chosen and carefully placed on bean-bag chairs. Even the family pet was expected to sit still and enjoy the magical stories read by the cutest librarians I have ever known.
All was well until it was not.
Halfway in, the once enthusiastic librarians lost interest as the family dog darted around the room. The frustrated librarians began to read a little faster and then started skipping entire pages. The hard words were ignored as the pages were turned in haste. Though the overlooked passages altered the storyline, no one seemed to care.
My thoughts traveled from my grands skipping through Dr. Seuss to my skipping through God's word. Sometimes, I want to overlook Leviticus and read from Psalms. It is easy to read the encouraging books without looking at the Bible as a whole. Often I am distracted by what is around me, causing the reading process to accelerate. Occasionally, I'm tempted to skim the challenging calls for self-sacrifice.
Can you relate?
Jen Wilkin's book entitled Women of the Word gives five guidelines when reading God's word. They are great reminders when I want to skip difficult passages or read quickly. I encourage you to grab Women of the Word and apply it to your Bible study. However, here is the cliff-note version.
Study with Purpose
Try to understand where the text fits into the Big Story of the Bible. What part does it play in the creation-fall-redemption-restoration storyline? How does it point to the reign and rule of God?
Study with Perspective
Use a study Bible or trusted commentary, or both! Answer the below questions, and this will set the stage as you begin to read the passage.
1) Who wrote it? 2) When was it written? 3) To whom was it written? 4) In what style was it written?
5) Why was it written?
Study with Patience
Resolve not to hurry. Set realistic expectations for your study, and focus on the long-term commitment. There is no need to rush the process, instead, study with patience as you linger in God's word.
Study with a Process
Begin methodically reading for comprehension, interpretation, and application. Use the following guide:
Comprehension – What does it say? Interpretation – What does it mean? Application – How should It change me?
Study with Prayer
Ask your Abba Father to help before, during, and after your study time. Pray over the Scripture, seeking God to speak into your heart and life. Include a prayer time as you study.
Friends, I don't know about you, but I want to embrace it all instead of skipping the complex parts or hard principles of God's word. When I open the Bible, I open the mouth of God. I invite you to study God's word with the reverence it deserves. Use the five steps from Jen Wilkin and dig deep.
You may not have time to use it daily, but you can begin applying one or two principles slowly. You will be blessed because God's word is a love letter to you and me. It is the most incredible read of all. - Even better than Dr. Seuss with the cutest librarians that ever lived.