From The Very Rev. Kristina Maulden
In every church that I have ever attended, I have heard the people say that the church should be offering Bible Study. And, that is something that I believe as well. There should be opportunities for members of a congregation to come together and study the Word of God together. I have attended and led many wonderful group study courses. But, in the midst of very busy lives, that is not always practical for everyone. So, the question is, how can Christians engage in Bible Study on their own? I know some congregations have taken on reading the Bible from cover to cover over a period of a year. There are resources like the Great Courses that have video presentations that anyone can watch at home. But, on an individual level, how do we go deeper if we are left to our own devices?
One way is to follow the outline of one method of delving into Scripture, called Lectio Divina. This term simply refers to reading Scripture with God in mind. This method also works very well in groups, as it is based on the ancient monastic practices of reading in community. Sometimes it is hard to know where to start in the Bible. Often we refer to it as one book, when in reality it is a compilation of 66 books. These books have different genres: some are poetry, some are letters, some are history, etc. If you have not done any form of biblical study, you may want to start with a Gospel. Mark is the shortest. John is the most theological. Or, if you have a favorite book, like Genesis or Psalms, you may want to start there. Before I begin to study any part of scripture, I pray. I ask that God’s wisdom would guide me as I read. I also ask that the Holy Spirit cause the words to come alive in my heart.
Then the steps you may follow are these:
- Read the passage of Scripture aloud
- Take some time to think about what you read, silently
- Read the passage aloud again.
- Think about a word or phrase that struck you as important. Ask yourself what it is about that word or phrase that speaks to you, in that moment.
- Read the passage again.
- Reflect on any questions that passage may have raised for you. It may be helpful to write down your thoughts in a journal, so that you can come back and reflect again.
To go further, you may want to have a commentary on the particular book of the Bible you are reading. Many commentaries will fill in cultural references or explore difficult words or themes. An inexpensive way to push in further is through the internet. You can Google the passage and see what reflections there may be online. BibleGateway.com is one of many sites that offer a wide range of translations of the Bible, that make it easier to compare how passages were translated from Hebrew or Greek.
One thing to keep in mind, “Scripture is like a river… broad and deep, shallow enough for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim.” -Gregory the Great
So whether you are new to scripture or have been immersed there for many years, it is good to continue the practice.