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Ways to Approach the Bible, Part 2: Reading One Book at a Time

Another approach to Bible reading is to choose a book and focus on that one book for while. You could start with one of the shorter books like Ruth, Esther, 1 Peter, or James. First read the book in one sitting without any analytical thinking on your part at all. Just let the words and thoughts of the text settle into your heart and mind. Then look up the background to the book in a study Bible or Bible commentary. Notice who the author is, when it was written, why it was written, and look at an outline of the book. Then reread the book slowly, watching for repeating phrases and the main points the author is making. You might want to write down any verses that seem to jump out at you as you are reading. You can go back to these verses later to review what they are teaching you.

You might consider keeping a running journal of what you notice as you read, and when you are done, read through your notes again. See if there are any recurring themes. Then you might read through the book slowly again and write your own paraphrase as you read it. This will help you process what you are reading. You will be amazed at how the story or train of thought comes alive in your mind as you read, then process, then write what you see there.

After you have written your own paraphrase of the book, reread all the verses on your list of those that jumped out at you. You might start committing those verses to memory. They will mean more to you once they are in your memory, and you will be able to use them and help others use them since now you know and understand them in their context. Then, to really help you make your study of Scripture come alive, choose a family member or friend to tell one of your favorite verses to. As you speak to that person, explain why that verse or section of Scripture has become so important to you. As you share the verse with him or her, it will become a lasting treasure in your life.

If you are studying the Bible book by book, it might be advisable to alternate between books from the Old and New Testaments. That way you will stay current in your understanding of the all the writings before and after Christ.

From Bible Basics, by Donald W. Patterson © 2010 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.