It’s good for people to read the Bible. The obvious needs to be stated when when the majority of Christians don’t read the Bible.
I’ve been thinking about how I’ll read the Bible this year, and Donald Whitney’s “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” has been very helpful. Like Paul Tripp, Whitney has some wonderful insights and a great way of asking probing questions.
J.I. Packer recommends this book – in fact, he wrote the introduction:
“If, then, as a Christian you want to be really real with your God, moving beyond the stage of playing games with yourself and Him, this book provides practical help. A century and a half ago the Scottish professor “Rabbi” Dundan sent his students off to read John Owen, the Puritan, on indwelling sin with the admonition, “But gentlemen, prepare for the knife.” As I pass you over to Don Whitney, I would say to you, “Now friend, prepare for the workout”.
I’d recommend this book for its wisdom on Scripture reading, but the sections on other disciples are equally helpful.
“Discipline without direction is drudgery. But the Spiritual Disciplines are never drudgery as long as we practice them with the goal of Godliness in mind.”
I’ve tried different strategies in the past, and I’ve found that when I’ve tried to read large chunks, I’ve been so focused on getting through the chunks that I haven’t spent time meditating on what I’ve read, and praying for it.
Too often, I’ve forgotten what I’ve read within 5 minutes of reading it. I want to read, remember and do. As James 1 reminds us:
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Inspired and encouraged by Whitney’s book, and with a desire to live James 1, here’s my plan of attack for 2013.
- Read small chunks of Scripture, systematically working through books. I’m starting in Colossians.
- Summarise what I’ve read in just one sentence. This paraphrasing is already helping me to focus on what I’ve read, and what God wants to teach me.
- Write out prayer points based on what I’ve read, including prayers where I’m asking for God’s help to change.
It’s relatively simple, but the aim is to remember, meditate and change – with God’s help. In terms of tools, since the end of last year, I’ve been using the Day One App as a journal, and have been recording what I’m reading and praying for here.
How will you be reading the Bible in 2013?