Four Simple Tweaks to Move from Reading the Bible to Engaging the Bible

Four Simple Tweaks to Move from Reading the Bible to Engaging the Bible

This Post is Part of Our Bible Engagement Series

Why can it be so difficult to get engaged in reading the Bible?  The stories are incredible, the potent strands of truth that bind God’s Word to our hearts are rampant. We know that these are words of life. We know that we find peace and direction in its pages. Yet, we do not read. And if we do read, we rarely engage. Often, it feels like I am reading the Bible but not engaging. This is a challenge for each of us and it is worth the effort to understand how to move past this and truly engage in the Word of God. After being a Christ follower for over two and a half decades (I’m a very slow learner), I discovered a way to approach Bible reading more effectively. A way to engage with the Word and not just read it. Here are four simple tweaks any believer can make to ensure they are engaging the Bible and not just reading it.

Journaling

There is no way around it. If you truly want to engage with God’s Word you must begin to take notes. Your journaling doesn’t have to be extensive. It does not have to be a detailed diary of everything you think of and learn as you read. But it needs to happen. You must write down what God is showing you. This is far simpler than many make it out to be. Just write the passage reference and then jot down some insights. Some great questions you can ask and answer in your journaling are:

  1. Is this passage giving me a promise to claim?
  2. Is this passage teaching me a principle?
  3. What audience was this passage written to?
  4. Who wrote the passage? What was their context?
  5. What will I do with what I have read?

Regardless of how you journal, or how much you journal, the key is that you are journaling. I rarely write more than a few sentences when I’m journaling, but they have transformed my time in the Word.

Accountability

One of the key reasons our Bible reading doesn’t matter much in our lives is because we have no accountability with others regarding this discipline. The general question, “are you reading your Bible?”, is often asked but rarely are we held to account. We must go beyond asking and move into an accountable relationship with key people in our life regarding our Bible engagement. The number one way to do this is to be on the same plan with someone else. If you are reading in the same places as others, each of you has the ability to discuss and go deeper on the content than just, “have you read?” Find a person or small group of people who will be on this journey with you and discuss your reading regularly. I find this happens best in a discipleship group, but the main goal is to have accountability in place no matter how you navigate the details of who and when.

One of the key reasons our Bible reading doesn’t matter much in our lives is because we have no accountability with others regarding this discipline. Click To Tweet

Memorization

I have always been told to memorize Scripture. Hiding the Word in your heart is a basic tenet of the Christian faith. Sadly, until recently, this has been a lost art for me. I have used the excuse that I am terrible at memorization (which I am), or that I always have access to the Word through technology (which I do). But the reality is that memorizing the Word is about more than just recalling it for others in a time of need. It is about more than being able to show others how great you are at the discipline. I have found that memorizing the Word greatly impacts my understanding of it. It also helps me in spiritual warfare as I recall verses in the face of difficult times. Additionally, memorizing the Word fills my mind with God’s heart. With so much of the world getting in my brain, making sure God’s Word is consistently taken in and prioritized has revolutionized my Bible reading. For others, the simple goal of memorization increases their engagement with the Word. Regardless, memorizing the Word is another key tweak that will help you make your Bible reading matter.

With so much of the world getting in my brain, making sure God’s Word is consistently taken in and prioritized has revolutionized my Bible reading. Click To Tweet

Responding

Responding to what we read in the Word may seem like a foregone conclusion but the reality is we are excellent at reading and not applying. We must implement what we have read for it to make any difference in our life. The key difference between reading and engaging in God’s Word is the application. We want God to transform us with His Word, not just gain more information. If most of us only applied the little we know, we would see an incredible difference in our lives as the Holy Spirit works through us. But, too often, we would prefer a talking point than a basic action step. We get so excited about a new truth to share, or insight to astound others with, that we don’t live out what we know we should in response to God’s Word. Whatever you read in the Word, determine what God would have you do in response and then take that first step of obedience.

Responding to what we read in the Word may seem like a foregone conclusion but the reality is we are excellent at reading and not applying. Click To Tweet

There is a big difference in reading and engaging in the Bible. By implementing these four simple tweaks, I have seen my Bible engagement skyrocket. I hope you will find them helpful as well. If you have some helpful ways to help engage the Word, share them in the comments.

Chris Swain currently serves at Long Hollow Baptist Church as the Executive Director of Replicate Ministries. After fours years of service in the United States Marine Corps, Chris served in full-time ministry for 14 years in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and Georgia, leading ministries ranging from Students, to Collegiate, to Spiritual Formation. Most recently, Chris served as the Director of Student Ministry Publishing at Lifeway Christian Resources serving the Church in its mission of making disciples. Chris’s heart is to expand the Gospel through disciple-making in the local church.