Thursday, February 23, 2012

In Defense of Slow Bible Reading

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night

- Psalms 1:2

Bible Reading

We all know about "Read Your Bible in a Year" plans. And there are also six month plans. And even a 90 day plan!

These aren't bad things. I've read my Bible in a year and in that year, marvelled at the connections between Old and New Testament as I saw God's covenant and plan pass from age to age.

However, reading on the fast track isn't the only way. We learn different things from God in all the many ways we study and experience Him. And this year, even as I am surrounded by the convenience of one-year Bible reading challenges, I have decided on something a little different.

I'm reading my Bible slowly. Very slowly. I don't know how quickly I'll get from end to end because this time I'm focusing on the journey rather than that last page of Revelation which is arguably the destination. I know it will take more than a year, though.

My plan is obviously not a regimented plan, and I don't have a set schedule to go with it. I suppose in a world of planners, I might be rebelling just a little bit. I just get up in the mornings, read the selection for my group Bible study, and then flip to Genesis (why yes, it's February and I'm still in Genesis) and see how much God wants me to read. My one commitment is that I will read and study every day.

And as I read over the text, often more than once, the patterns of word and phrase jump out at me. With no deadline on reaching the end of the Book, I am set free to research meanings of words, differences between translations, I can chase cross-references all through Scripture and it's making me see God differently.

I read through the Bible quickly last year and was blessed by getting some small glimpse of the big picture. And now, for the next few years, I will get to read more closely. As I read Genesis, I feel so much closer to God. As Christians, we tend to focus more closely on Jesus as shown to us in the Gospels, but as I study now, I can feel a sense of excitement about Jesus as I see this great plan of salvation taking shape. We are instructed in Isaiah 34:16 to "Search from the Book of the Lord and read," and as I do this, I find myself loving God and loving Christ more each day.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Colossians 3:16

So, tell me. Am I the only rebellious slow reader out there? How does God speak to you through His word?

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And I'm linking up at Faith Barista today:

15 comments:

  1. I have tried reading the Bible in the year and it just didn't click to me. I love reading the Bible slowly. Letting God speak to me through his words. One day he will have me in the book of Romans and the next Isaiah. For a period of time I spent months soaking up the book of Proverbs because that is where God wanted me to be. I look at it as reading the Bible in a life time. I'd rather be on God's schedual than the wrolds!

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    1. Me too, Candy. This time around, I'm going through in order but I've done things your way also, and "being on God's schedule" is such a good way to think about it.

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  2. I have tried reading the Bible via a schedule also, but it doesn't work for me. Now I'm reading the Bible as often as possible, starting with Genesis. I even have a small one containing only the new Testament. This one is for when I am travelling and feeling insecure. (I can put it in the pocket of my jeans and read it in the toilet or so).

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  3. I started the chronological plan last summer because I'd never read the Bible through. I like seeing the connections, too. But I'm finding myself wanting to slow down. When I finish in June, I want to start again and read slowly. I'm so goal-oriented at times, that I'm afraid I might be missing something in my speed...

    Thanks for your post today! You've given me encouragement in the right direction!

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    1. Glad to encourage! And I know God will bless your time in the Word.

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  4. I've read through the whole Bible before. After finishing the course Great Bible Adventure, we learned the parts of the Bible with the narrative story, and the other parts that are connected to it in the timeline. It becomes more interesting to read the prophets in relation to the narrative. What I also like doing is after reading the Bible, and meditating, and drawing (I'm a visual person and it helps me remember!), is looking for meditations on the web to add more meaning to what I've read. It's very rewarding!

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    1. I've never tried that approach, but that does sound like that would be interesting as well as giving one perspective on God's plan unfolding over time.

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  5. Hey Amy,

    I really couldn't read the Bible in a year and have it sink in. Maybe I'm a slow learner *blush*, but I'd forget tonnes if I went too quickly. I find reading the hard books like Isaiah really difficult to read in themselves and so have to go over them slowly. Nice defence!

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    1. Thank you! And I agree with you on some of the more difficult books. There are some portions of the Bible that just have so much packed into them that the reading goes much more slowly.

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  6. I've tried to read the Bible in a year, and it is a hard task. It feels like you are just flipping pages. I love your approach, slow and meditative. Much better.

    -Bob

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  7. I have only been able to follow a reading plan one time. And that was because I did it in a group and once a week one of us wrote up a re-cap and reflection. So when I missed the reading I still received a little bit of the gist and usually was inspired to go back and catch up. Thanks for sharing your story. Joy

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  8. HI, Amy! This is my first time here. I really love this post. I took two courses on the Bible and have always loved Genesis the most. I've tried reading the Bible in a year but I linger too long on passages and get really far behind. I guess that's just where God wants me. :)

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  9. Yes, I've done all the above - it doesn't matter what or how much we do as long as we 'let the word of God dwell richly' in our hearts.

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  10. I think Mama Mpira is right. It doesn't actually matter how, as long as we do and with the right heart. I am actually a proponent of the "read through the Bible in a year" club. Until this year I have tried to read through the Bible every year for about the last fifteen years. Some years I have managed it and other years I haven't made it all the way. The reason I have persisted is that I have a pretty poor memory and I feel like if I don't read over all of it regularly I will forget bits of it. And I have noticed that in persisting with this way of reading the Bible, it has become richer and richer with each passing year. So it can work - but I have to say that it has taken all these years to make it work really well. So if you are up for a long term project... :-)

    This year however I have decided to spend twelve months working harder on one section - the Prophets - which is the least familiar part to me. It's great taking things a bit more slowly to do the intensive work on what is a bit of black hole for me. Wonderful to be soaking in the riches of this section of the Bible.

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  11. Hello Amy,

    I personally feel that reading the Bible slowly is the most beneficial. I recently received the Holy Spirit and he is slowly guiding me through the Gospel of John. I have never read the Bible before, so I was torn over whether I should read it quickly first and then go back and read it more slowly. Or, if I should read it slowly over the course of the rest of my life. I was inspired to go with the latter.
    I also have been researching the meaning of words that I come across in my religious studies and I purchased a new notebook just for this purpose. My favorite words learned so far: Contrition and Iniquity.
    I realize I have a long way to go and a lot to learn. However, I am excited every day when I wake up to learn something new, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to others, and I am so grateful.
    Thank you for writing this article and I hope it inspires others to read the Word of God more slowly too.
    I love God. I love Jesus. I love the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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