Every Friday we have a Bible Study at our house. My pastor comes with his family as well as a few other people. A few Fridays ago we were talking about something that really interested me, the different ways to read the Bible. When people talk about reading the Bible a lot of terms are thrown around like "meditation" and "study", things like that. What is the correct way to approach your Bible? We broke it down into 3 sections and then compared it all to mining for gold.
1. Basic Reading
The title describes it all-you sitting down and just plain reading the Word. You don't have any particular motive other than to just absorb what you can. This method is is effective at covering a lot a ground and picking things up here and there. Great for memorization and getting into the habit of thinking like a Christian. Sort of like walking along the ground and finding pieces of gold, you don't find much but it's simple and effective.
What my pastor describes as "ripping apart Scripture and then putting it back together again". You are reading the words, but with the distinct intent of trying to figure something out. This where we get out doctrine and theology. You don't just start and chapter 1 and and read to chapter 2, you hop around comparing different verses, taking into account audience, speaker, time line, context, etc. This is like going deep into the darkest parts of the earth and searching for a vein of gold. It takes a lot of work and time, but what you find is valuable and deep.
Eastern religions have made us hyper sensitive to this word. Meditation is not the emptying of your mind but the filling of it. You take a single verse or a few verses and mull it over in your mind. It takes time and it teaches you the meaning of verses that maybe you've heard a million times before. You stop, think about each word and it's meaning and contemplate it as if you've never heard it before. You already have your gold here, but now you're refining it. Heating it, pounding it, weighing it and forming it.
All three of these ways to read Scripture are needed, we need to be strong in all these areas or something about the way we interpret the Bible will be off balance.
Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4:13-16 NKJV