Reading the Bible S L O W L Y

Michael Acidri (one of my favorite Calvinists–not that ‘Calvinist’ matters at all here) says:
Largely forgotten today, George Whitefield was probably the most famous religious figure of the eighteenth century. Newspapers called him the “marvel of the age.” He preached with clarity and with tenacity. When George Whitefield, a Calvinist studied the Bible…

“here he is at five in the morning . . . on his knees with his English Bible, his Greek New Testament and Henry’s Commentary spread out before him. He reads a portion in the English, gains a fuller insight into it as he studies words and tenses in the Greek and then considers Matthew Henry’s explanation of it all. Finally, there comes the unique practice that he has developed: that of ‘praying over every line and word’ of both the English and the Greek till the passage, in its essential message, has veritably become part of his own soul.”

–Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield, I:82-83.

Apart from the Greek, and five in the morning, this is what I’ve been doing. I decided to spend some time reading very slowly and carefully, using Henry and Calvin if necessary, starting in 1 Thessalonians–no reason why I started there. You could say the Spirit led me if you’d like. After I re-read this quote (thinking it was Spurgeon), I decided to pray about everything I read. I started this in Hebrews 11 and I’m in 1 Peter right now. I’ve been having a great time doing this, partly because this portion of Scripture has something obvious to pray about in every verse.

I read somewhere out there that if you’re doing this, it’s good to read at least a chapter somewhere else in the Bible in order to keep up with familiarization of it, so I decided to read in Hosea and will go on in order from there.

Next year I may do a reading plan for reading the Bible in less than a year, or reading at least parts of it more than once and probably not do as much of the slow type of thing, although always meditating when I think of it during the day.

I’ve been learning about the purposes of the various reading and studying styles. It’s OK to read a lot of the Bible and not work hard to understand it because being familiar with the big picture and reading the whole thing is important. And it’s OK to not cover a lot but spend a large portion of time on a small passage.

Do you have a specific way of covering the different styles? Do you stick with one? I make sure that I read the whole thing at least every few years and cover the Psalms, Proverbs and NT regularly. Otherwise I just do what I feel like.

One method I tried a while ago was reading through a book (James) 20 times. For me, it was a miserable failure. For some reason I didn’t retain it any better than reading it twice, as I just found out.

2 Responses to “Reading the Bible S L O W L Y”

  1. 1 Angel

    I like to read in the Bible while it is read aloud – I use the YouVersion free Apple application to do this, which makes available a wide variety of both text & audio versions/translations. I can usually only digest a chapter at a time and that is only after I read/listen to it 2-4 times. I also like to use Kay Arthur’s Precepts methods (reading while looking for & marking specific words/themes) when going verse by verse. I am trying to wean myself off the commentaries (other than for historical context) because I have come to view them as “milk” and I am at a point where I need to be “eating” more “meat.”

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    I never thought about hearing the Bible unless I were to lose my hearing. It would have to be a voice I really like. I’ve done Kay Arthur’s inductive method and would use it only for more major themes. She seemed to have us mark every little thing, although I admit it not a style I get a lot out of. My wife loves it. (A girl thing?) I only use commentaries when I’m really stuck and have struggled with it on my own for a time. I don’t use a study Bible so that I’m not looking at the notes. They have been teaching me how to look for things and sometimes before I go to them, I try to imagine what they might say and actually figure it out on my own. Maybe that should be a post.

    Thanks for the comment and ideas.

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