What is devotional Bible reading? Should we do it and if so, how do we do it?
Devotional Bible reading focuses on your personal relationship with God. The primary goal is not to gain biblical knowledge – though that will happen too. It’s not for the purpose of preparing to teach others – although you will become more prepared. The main purpose of devotional Bible reading is your “spiritual edification.” This time of devotion is for you to hear from God with the help of His Holy Spirit.
Why should I read the Bible devotionally?
“Spiritual edification” is a really churchy phrase, but it carries a lot of meaning. Here’s a quick rundown of the goals and benefits of reading our Bible to be “built up” spiritually:
- To express our sincere devotion to God
- To give God an opportunity to reveal His presence
- To heighten our affection for God and build deeper intimacy
- To find guidance, encouragement, wisdom, peace, and renewal
- To align our thoughts, our will, our actions with God’s
- To encourage continued spiritual growth
Ah! We want to encounter the living God through His living Word. And through that encounter, to allow God to continue to conform us to the image of Christ.
How do I read the Bible devotionally?
Since in-depth Bible study is very active, you may think devotional reading is more passive. But it is in fact, quite active. The devotional style combines reading, prayer, listening, and response. While the only must-have is your Bible, there are a few other tools that will benefit your devotional time:
- Pen, highlighters, and or colored pencils
- Wide-margin Bible, journaling Bible, notebook, or journal
- Bible reading plan
- Read with intent – First, don’t read haphazardly. Don’t just open the Bible and drop your finger on a verse. Have a plan. For instance, use a Bible reading plan or work through a Bible book from beginning to end. Second, don’t just read the words. Pray before, during, and after. Expect to hear from God and actively listen for Him to speak to you through the Scripture and through the quiet prompting of His Spirit.
- Meditate on the passage – Meditation is not emptying your mind. It is deep thinking on spiritual truths. As you read, linger over verses that impact you. Allow God to apply these truths to your life. Use your journal to record insights and impressions. Or use colored pencils to creatively illustrate truths in the margins of your Bible or in a journal.
- Ask God questions and “listen” for His answers – Below are examples of questions you can use to interact with the Scriptures you read:
- Does this passage present some truth that should change what you believe or the way you think about God?
- Does this passage prompt you to praise God, thank God for something specific, or trust God in a situation?
- Is there something in this passage you should pray for yourself or for someone else?
- Does this passage bring to mind a sin you need to confess?
- Is God using this passage to move you to a particular act of obedience or to make a decision?
- Respond to God’s leading – The Word of God has the power to search our minds and penetrate our hearts. God will use it as both a balm to our souls and a scalpel to our hearts (Hebrews 4:12-13). He knows exactly what we need. We need to respond. We may need to repent from a specific sin. We may need to step out to heal a relationship. We may need to change the way we think about a particular issue. Or we may need to simply sit in the comforting, healing presence of our Savior. However God leads, let us respond.
What has been your experience with devotional Bible reading? Any helps or tips?
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