Reading the Bible is not the same as studying the Bible, and the difference is important. I know there is a difference because I’ve lived it. In my own life, I can tell when I’ve been taking shortcuts and just reading the Bible, and when I’m actually investing in my relationship with God. The two ways of approaching the Bible have many similarities, but they look different.
What Reading Looks Like
- Of course, it’s easier to just decode the words and move on, glossing over things I don’t understand, over things that challenge my misconceptions. Just reading the words is a lot easier.
- Similarly, reading doesn’t take much time. A quick read-through is just something to check off a list, it’s not spending time with God.
- Reading doesn’t invite me to talk to God about what I’m encountering in the scriptures, or about my thoughts regarding what I’d read.
- When I’ve simply read my Bible, I tend to forget the content, and any application I’d briefly thought of. And what good does that do?
- When I go through the motions, I drift from God. I think about Him less, depend on Him less, and gradually invest even less in our relationship.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. A few simple changes and I’m noticing God again in my quiet time.
What Studying Looks Like
- Studying takes more time because it’s more than a once-over of the chapter or passage I’m reading. I pray. I reread. I think about other passages that say similar things. I ask God to teach me. I journal, and more.
- Studying involves praying through what I’m reading, “talking it out” with God. This goes for things I don’t understand, maybe don’t like, or things I’m simply trying to process.
- Studying involves recognizing something about myself or about God. Likely it’s something God wants to change my mind or actions about, or at least remind me about.
It is a stark difference, and a transformational one. When we meet with God regularly like this, studying His word and talking with Him in prayer, He will mold us into the image of Jesus that much quicker!
Now, I need some help from you! When you study the Bible, what tools do you use? How have you noticed studying and reading differing for you in your own quiet time? Let me know in the comments below. Please and thank you!
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