** This series of posts is designed to help Super Summer Students transition back into normal life after a glorious week. These posts should be helpful to any Christian wanting to grow and work through basic issues of Christian living. **
How do you pick a passage of Scripture to read in your quiet time? Some people are so stymied by this question that they actually find their quiet times difficult. These folks may get to the place and time of quiet time, but then find themselves stumped by what passage to choose.
The problem here, I would suggest, is that too many of us are given to a desire for mystical leading. We want to hear the voice of God speak to us about which book and chapter and verses to read. But God just is not going to work that way for us. Instead, God has given us a rational, reasonable, logical mind to thoughtfully, and yes prayerfully, decide what to read.
So, here are some tips about choosing a passage to read through and pray over through your quiet time:
· Stay in context. Far too many people try to randomly choose a passage to read from day-to-day. The problem here is that the books of the Bible were written intentionally with an order and flow. If we read random verses or random chapters out of the Bible, we are very likely to miss the big picture of the book that the Author intended us to see. We will do better picking up a passage that we read the day before in order to better understand the author’s point.
· Judge passage length wisely. If you choose to read only 1 or 2 verses, they had better be pretty rich. While sometimes I am greatly blessed by meditating on one verse over and over and over for twenty minutes, this is not always the case. I often find it more helpful to at least read several paragraphs of Scripture. Again, the point here is to catch the big picture flow of the passage as well as the smaller sections.
· Focus on what stands out. Once you have read a paragraph or two or twelve, then you can allow your mind to focus on one key point for meditation. For example, you might read the entirety of Matthew 22 in one sitting, but then pray through verses 11-14 asking God to reveal to you whether or not you are rightly dressed in the grace of Christ.
· Use a plan. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you are going to wisely read through the Scriptures, I would implore you to find a plan that will work for you and stick to it. I use this plan from Discipleship Journal, because it helps me to read passages from 4 parts of Scripture each day. It will allow me to read through the Bible in 1 year, and it only has 25 readings per month, thus allowing for catch-up days when I miss for some reason. You might like my plan, or you might want to check out this article which will show you several other plans. Pick a Bible-in-a-year, do it on-line or off-line, read several sections or just the NT—honestly, do whatever you need to do, just pick a plan and follow it logically. (I would personally not recommend students start at Genesis and try to read straight through the Bible, as this will keep them out of the New Testament for too long and will often bog them down at Leviticus, Numbers, or for sure by 1 Chronicles.)
· Read aware of the kind of book you are reading. If you take just a moment to look at a Bible dictionary or a study Bible’s introduction to the biblical book you are studying, you will find out valuable information about the book that will help you to better understand it. For example, you might learn that Haggai was written after the Jews returned from their Babylonian captivity, which will make all that language about rebuilding the temple make sense. Such introductions as well as the helpful charts and study notes is why I am so fond of the ESV Study Bible.
· Read with accountability. If you can find someone else who is committed to reading Scripture daily, perhaps you can use the same plan. Knowing that a friend or family member is reading what you are reading will encourage you to be more faithful and more thoughtful in your reading. Plan to talk with each other about the readings, and you will find that you are more apt not to blow a day off.
By the way, most of the devotionals that I write on my blog are my own thoughts from my daily reading. If you choose the plan that I proposed above for your daily reading (or even part of that plan), you will find that I am often writing about something you will be reading. If that helps you to read more regularly, great.
Again, comments here would be welcome. How do you choose your passages of Scripture for daily reading? Any helpful ideas for others?