The Bible can be intimidating, can’t it? With 66 separate books inside and over ¾-million words, that’s a lot to read. And where do you start? Because, unlike most books, this is the kind of book where jumping around and reading different sections is completely acceptable. Yes, the beginning is awesome. (God created the world just by speaking? Amazing!) But if you have only just heard about this man named Jesus and want to learn more about who he is and what he did for you personally, I wouldn’t wade through Lamentations. And how much should you read—a page, a chapter, a whole book?
The beautiful answer is that you get to choose. So many people encourage you to read the Bible (and I agree), and that’s why plenty of plans exist to help you read the Bible in one year or three years. I’d rather you follow King David’s advice in Psalm 143:5, “I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.”
Instead of just reading the Bible, which could lead to just skimming the Bible, here are three plans to focus your thoughts so you will find yourself meditating on what you just read.
Scripture: Read a portion of the Bible. You decide if it’s a little or a lot. Pick a psalm or start with the book of Luke. Maybe begin with Genesis (the first book in the Bible).
Observation: Write down a thought, passage, or truth that jumped out at you. Was there a new facet of God or a story you never heard before that gave you new insight?
Application: How can you apply that thought to your life today? How do you live in response to what you just read? How does it give you joy or trust? Is there a spot where you get uncomfortable because of how God is calling you to live?
Prayer: Write a prayer about this truth, and ask God for the strength to live it out.
Adoration: What in this passage makes you adore God? Is it his vastness or how he is in the miniscule details? Is it his compassion, his truth, his gentleness, his love, his power? Simply list his awesome characteristics and why you adore him.
Confession: What in here makes you aware of your sins? God already knows that you did them, but it is good for you to admit to the big ones and share the little ones—and apologize for the ones you don’t even know you did.
Thanksgiving: What things in this reading make you grateful? These might sound a little like adoration, and that’s okay. It’s like the difference between telling someone you love that she is kind (adoration) and thanking her for the specific acts of kindness she does for you (thanksgiving).
Supplication: Supplication is a churchy word, probably because the person that came up with this acronym needed an S for it to make sense. Anyway, this is where, based on this passage, you ask God to supply everything you and the people you love and the strangers around the world need—for faith and for life.
Thanksgiving: Being thankful for what God is telling you in his Word is always a great place to start. Write it down.
Repentance: Seeing the judgmental nature of the Pharisees or the lack of faith of the disciples or the actions of those who claimed to follow God helps us see our own sins and weaknesses. And we need to repent.
Intercession: Is there anything in the section you read that makes you want to pray for other people? Talk to him about their health, faith, problems, relationships.
Petition: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). God loves giving you both physical and spiritual blessings. Ask him to pour them out in your life in his way.
What ways have you found to meditate on the Bible? Please share them in the comments!
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. She started meditating on the book of Luke at the end of 2015 and is only on chapter 12. She reads one section at a time—however much is covered under one heading whether it’s 3 sentences or 30. Then she writes a prayer based on that reading.