Don't Gulp the Word

Don't Gulp the Word

Parents everywhere teach their children to eat meals slowly, savoring them. Hopefully Christian parents also teach this same lesson about studying scripture. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy when He tells Satan that along with food, God’s Word is also our sustenance.

But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD.'"- Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

Many of us can fall into the trap of deciding we are going to read a certain quota, like a chapter per day. Soon we become determined to read that chapter no matter what - even if we have to read it so fast we have no idea what it said.

I recently realized that I was doing this. There were some afternoons I couldn’t have told you what book of the Bible I had read from in my morning devotional time. I thought and prayed for help to improve in this area. I want to share the changes I’ve made to my daily Bible reading in hopes that it will spark some ideas which will enrich yours as well.

First, I decided my priority was to read the Bible to comprehend, not to meet a goal. This applies even if I must focus on only one sentence during my entire reading time. Then I added two things to my daily Bible study: note taking and a pop quiz. Each day I choose one segment of my reading which I want to think about more deeply, want to memorize, or that I admire. I copy that segment into a journal and add my impressions, bits of commentary, or plans for how I will apply this to my life. This ensures that I’m really thinking about what I’m reading. Now I approach each day’s reading with the expectation that I will find at least one gem worthy of writing down and thinking about more fully.

The pop quiz part works best if you have a friend or loved one to help you. I gave my husband permission to ask me at any time during the day what I’d read about in my morning Bible reading. He rarely does this. However, just knowing that he might ask helps me to remain alert as I read. If no one else will quiz you, test yourself! Knowing you will be asked to recall the information later will really help it sink into your memory.

Other ideas include reading several alternate versions of the same passages each day, reading one or more commentaries, or asking questions about the text. An example of asking questions would be, “Why was this word chosen and not a similar word? How is the meaning different because this was the word used here?” Each of these things will help you slow down as you read the Bible and savor each juicy morsel. There is more than enough here to sustain us all for eternity.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! - Psalms 34:8 (NKJV)