Attitude when reading Bible

Discussion in 'The Pilgrims Progress' started by LeeJUk, May 8, 2009.

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  1. LeeJUk

    LeeJUk Puritan Board Junior

    Hey well I feel like I'm starting to read the bible like it's a textbook and I don't really have the Spirit illuminate the scriptures much like it used to be.

    So I have a few questions. I feel like I'm learning a lot about God instead of knowing him personally and it's been destroying my passion steadily since conversion.

    So How do we come to say a chapter or passage of text and find the food for our spirits in it, instead of just some intellectual knowledge?

    I mean I can read a chapter of scripture, grasp all the information but that doesn't pass for knowing God in a personal relationship better and see where it fits into a particular doctrine but that's often it.

    How do you guys do this?
    What attitude to do come to the scriptures with, how do you come to know God personally through a chapter/passage instead of knowing dead facts about him?

    and do you have any kind of processes whilst reading?
    Do you ask each chapter 5 questions or something?
  2. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    It is always difficult to maintain the correct attitude when reading the bible. When the bible is new there are things to read for the first time or things to read and to reflect upon them and learn manythings. After a while however we short circuit things and can read without really reading becasue we know the stories and become familiar with them.

    If you are involved in preaching/teaching sometimes devotions ammount to nothing more than a search for sermon material. Sometimes we read academically thinking more of the cultural and historical background etc. Sometimes we read just to gather facts or find ammo to bash the cults with or to use to sin arguments and debates. Sometimes we read thinking more about how those verses are understood by theologians

    I fall back on the saying of John Bradford who said that whenever he engaged in any devotional exercise he did not give up until he felt his heart had entered into it. He went onto say something to the effect "I pray until I have prayed. I read until I have read. I sing until I have sung"

    There is a time to read the bible in order to find out facts. But whatever we read and learn we should use that as fuel in our praying and worship of God.

    If I am reading a psalm I would try and pray the Psalm into whatever is happening at the time. If Iam reading historical or prophetical passages I would think of the underlying principles and how they would apply to life. Similarly with the epistles, try and think of the principles the writer is laying down and how that applies to your own life.

    Rudyard Kipling in his story 'the Elephants Child' from his Just So series says this:

    I keep six honest serving men
    They taught me all I knew.
    Their names are What and Why and When
    and Where and How and Who.

    Even asking these questions of a passage can bring its own reward.
  3. TaylorOtwell

    TaylorOtwell Puritan Board Junior

    What about reading a section of Matthew Henry or J.C. Ryle with your reading? I find that to be really encouraging.
  4. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I think it is very important not to try to force yourself to feel a certain way, or to conclude that something was unproductive if you weren't overcome with emotion. There certainly are times when our hearts become blessedly engaged with God's word; but demanding that that happen is unhelpful - God may not give it. The weak child is oftener in the lap than the healthy one.

    But we should try to profit from what we've read. Scripture, of course, is packed with profitability on a variety of levels, and it is extremely important to see Scripture in its manifold connections (historic and dogmatic), and how it culminates in Christ. Of course that means that there are many questions you could ask of the text. But here are two that come to my mind. 1. What does this text give me to be grateful for? 2. What does this text call upon me to do?
  5. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    Pray. Read. Pray again. That way, you have intimacy with Him sandwiched between knowledge of Him.

  6. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    Most of us have been there, or are still there. You're not alone. Don't fear, or become distraught. Rather, do what you just did; ask for help with humility. Seek God, for He is the giver of wisdom and works in us to will and to do. One correction - there are no such things as "dead facts" about God. Banish that from your mind and never let it return. Any fact about God is marvelous and gracious for God to reveal. I know what you meant by your statement, but trust me. Squash it like a cockroach at your daughter's wedding.

    Don't expect to change overnight. This didn't happen overnight, and unless God does a mighty instantaneous work in you, He will do a mighty and well fought for work in you, which takes time.

    Slow down when you pray. Stop and contemplate the incredible privilege you have in coming directly to the One true Creator of all that exists. Strive to be overwhelmed with the immensity of that. As Stuart's excellent post stated, "Pray until you've prayed." We often talk "at" God. Slow down and come to Him in humility and awe, talking directly to Him. Force your mind and will to come to grips with the reality that you are actually and truly talking directly to God. This is not something you deserve, but something made possible by God the Son, imputing you with righteousness so that God the Father can look upon you with satisfaction rather than loathing. Remember the sacrifice that made this possible and never, ever, take it for granted or approach it with any sense of apathy or with too much familiarity. You don't deserve it.

    Force yourself to pray when you first wake up. Don't do it as a box to check off, but rather as an effort to remind yourself of the privilege and to orient your mind toward God. It doesn't have to be a long drawn out prayer, unless you prefer to. It needs to be a fervent and ardent desire to know God better and walk more closely to Christ. Do the same when you go to bed. Make it a point to make Christ your last focused thought every night and your first one every morning. If you wake up in the middle of the night, consider it a divine appointment to pray. Keep a prayer list in your Bible. I use a 5x8 card and write different categories in each corner, front and back. Then, if my prayer bogs down, I have a quick reference to things I know I must pray about. A prayer journal is a good idea too.

    As has been said, learn how to pray the Scriptures. The Psalms are sometimes easier for people, but any Scripture can be prayed. Even the genealogies of 1 Chronicles can be prayed, if one slows down and contemplates the wondrous treasure we have in God's Word. Or, do we take that for granted too? Do we think portions are superfluous? Every word, jot and tittle is precious and to be treasured.

    Do devotions with someone. If you're married, do them with your wife every day. If not, find someone; even if you have to do it by phone. In person is better, but do it. The reason you do them with someone is to help one another with application. You should be able to grow in self-application by praying through Scripture. But when you do devotions together with someone it helps make it personal, lends credibility and brings accountability to your walk. Find someone to sharpen you.

    Pray before and after everything you do. I don't mean just before meals and bed time. Pray before you walk out the door. Pray before you write something. Pray before you interact with someone. Pray before you drive. Make it a habit to pray without ceasing and for every occasion. We fail to do this, in essence stating that there are aspects to our lives that we have under control. Or, we may not want to bother God with the "small things." In reality, such a statement is foolish in light of the fact that with God there are no "big things." God does all things for our good and no single action on the part of God is any more difficult than any other. He never expends energy. So, simply put, take it all to Him and squash any pride that might be lurking in any sense of self-sufficiency.

    Again, pray after everything. We often pray before, but fail to acknowledge God afterward. Pray after reading Scripture. Pray after a meeting. Pray when you get to work safely. Pray when you get in an accident. Pray when things are great. Pray when things stink - they're still good (Rom 8:28). Pray after you eat. Pray when you get home. Again, pray until you've prayed.

    Read of great men of the faith. Often the best to read in times like this are men who spent themselves as missionaries. Mueller would be good as well. These guys help us grow in faith because of their faithfulness.

    Serve in your church. Make sure you are a slave of Christ, serving Him and His children selflessly. This will give hands and feet to what you're learning about God. If you're not putting action to your doctrine and walk then you're spinning your wheels. One of the ways we grow most in Christ is in doing what He did - helping and serving others.

    Jesus is precious. If you cannot see Him as such now, pursue Him first and foremost as your overwhelming treasure. Know Him. Love Him. Serve Him.

    All of these, together, will conspire to help you love God's Word like you never have before. May God grant you greater love for Him and a closer walk with the precious Lamb of God.
    Last edited: May 9, 2009
  7. LeeJUk

    LeeJUk Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks a lot for the replies especially that long reply wannabe I will really start trying to incorporate these things into my devotions and prayer life.

  8. Nebrexan

    Nebrexan Puritan Board Freshman

    I've often had the same thoughts as you, and what has helped me was to remember to think about applying what I've read.
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