When I first became a Christian, I had a hard time understanding the concept of God’s Word as “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12). Sure, I wanted to read the Bible and absorb all I could about God’s love. I was blown away that God would give His only son for someone like me! I wanted to know more. But alive and active? I couldn’t fathom what that would even mean.
Over time as I lingered in the truth of Scripture, God revealed the meaning of Hebrews 4:12 in my life in a powerful way, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Maybe you, too, recall the moment God first spoke to you though reading His Word. That warm feeling, knowing He was right there with you. His tangible presence made known.
But the truth is, in our spiritual walk with the Lord, there will be times when we read the Bible and don’t feel His presence. In fact, our Bible reading time can get stale. Like we’re in a rut and need something to revive it. Because even though God’s Word is the living key to our spiritual growth, it takes consistent effort to stay connected to it.
When we hit that reading rut and want to revive our quiet time with the Lord, we can rest assured. We’re not alone! It happens to all of us sooner or later. One thing we can do is discover new ways to connect with Scripture throughout our day. Such a simple thing can spark renewed interest and bring about big change.
I can recall several steps I’ve taken through the years to reignite a spark in my own Bible reading. Tips picked up from friends and other trusted sources on different ways to read the Bible that ultimately changed my life. Here are a few suggestions you may find helpful as well. Implementing one or more of these may be just the change you need to bring you out of a stale place as you “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16).
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Pray before You Read and Ask God to Reveal Things through His Word
One of the first things I wanted to do when I started reading the Bible was to finish the entire thing. I adopted a solid reading plan, complete with notifications to help me stay on track. After a few weeks, it became part of my morning routine. I’d wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and open my Bible plan. Routines can be a good thing, but some days the routine felt more like a reading rut.
2 Timothy 3:16 teaches us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
If we’re reading without seeking God first, we may be missing the inspiration that comes through Scripture. By praying a simple prayer right before we read, we open the door for God to speak to our hearts. Our prayer doesn’t need to be long or profound to get God’s attention. He is pleased when we pray and express our desire to know Him more.
Watch for the Ways the Books of the Bible Connect
Have you ever been right in the middle of a passage and thought, “Didn’t I read about this somewhere else?” It’s like a sense that you’ve been there before, immersed in a story or chapter.
One of the most amazing things about the Bible is how it is all connected. The story of our Savior Jesus is woven throughout both the New and Old Testaments. What a treasure to be able to find glimpses of the hope of Christ in each book! By looking for ways the books of the Bible are connected, we can gain new knowledge about the promises of God.
So how is this possible? How are pieces of Jesus’ life and story found in pages and pages of historical writings? Jesus himself is the Word. John 1:14 reveals this truth, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
As you read the Bible, watch for the ways the books connect. Study a timeline of its contents. See how our Savior is the living, breathing Word of God.
Related Resource: Listen to our podcast, Teach Us to Pray with Christina Patterson. You can find all the episodes at LifeAudio.com. Listen to Episode 1 here:
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Add a Psalm a Day
I love beginning a new reading plan each January that will take me through the Bible in a year. There are a variety of plans to choose from — everything from reading an Old and New Testament chapter each day to reading in chronological order. But my favorite is adding one Psalm to each day’s passage.
In our longing to learn more about God, we will eventually stumble across a chapter or passage that is, shall we say, a little harder to get through than others. We don’t need to condemn ourselves for struggling through certain parts of Scripture. But there are things we can do to help us dig in when we come to those less-than-desirable portions. Reading a chapter of Psalms a day can bring a fresh dose of joy to an otherwise dry season.
Anytime I’m feeling down, I turn to Psalms. There’s no other book that lifts my spirits quite like it. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
Read a Passage as a Personal Letter from God
I’ve heard it said that the Bible is God’s love letter to us. Yet as often as I’ve seen the familiar saying on memes floating around social media, I can’t help but think of stories that don’t sound all that loving. David chopping off Goliath’s head? Jael driving a tent stake through Sisera’s temple? Some of these stories don’t scream love, if you know what I mean.
God’s Word holds great purpose for each of us, to strengthen us for the path He prepared for us. God loves us so much that He wants us to grow and mature in how we live our lives.
The Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah saying, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
Sometimes as parents, we will have to talk to our kids about hard things. Unpleasant things. But we know it is for their good, so they’ll be prepared for the road ahead. Like a loving parent, God has to guide us through a few tough conversations. By reading a passage or story as a letter to me from God, I will sense Him protecting, teaching, and loving me.
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Listen to the Bible Read Aloud
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
It was one of the darkest times in my life. I lay in bed unable to move. Anxious thoughts taunted me. What’s the use? This treatment will never work. You might as well give up. I didn’t have the strength to get out of bed, much less fight off these feelings of helplessness as my body struggled to fight disease. I needed something to soothe my spirit and remind me of God’s truth.
A quick search on my phone for “soothing hymns” led me to a series of audio recordings of Bible passages with soft piano accompaniment. This discovery was just what I needed when I couldn’t sit up to read the Bible on my own. I listened. And that one act changed my life forever.
Listening is a lost skill in our world today. Distractions pull at us from every direction. Our phones beg for our attention and steal much of our time. Pausing to listen to God’s Truth calmed my heart, allowing my body to rest. Listening to the spoken Word of God is another creative way to let our Heavenly Father speak to our needs.
What a gift we have in God’s Word! It is always available to us. Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.”
Whether listening, following a reading plan, or focusing on one verse at a time, reading the Bible is life-changing. It’s spending precious time in conversation with our Savior. He is with us: alive, active, and ready to meet every need.
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Originally published Monday, 17 May 2021.