“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” – John 5:39.
The Bible is truly an incredible book.
No matter how often you read the Bible, or what book or passage you are reading, you will encounter truth, some wisdom, some life lesson that is still relevant to us today over 2,000 years later. It is full of interesting characters, equally interesting stories, plot twists, enough to satisfy any novel reader. The Bible has been the inspiration for people throughout the centuries. A case in point, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream,” speech contains numerous references to Bible passages. One is Amos 5:24, “Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” Dr. King talked about dreams when he quoted Isaiah 40:4-5, saying, “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (NIV)
The Bible is a rich book. But how do you remember or retain what you read? It seems that too often you forget what you have read as the tasks and activities of life reenter the picture. How do you keep from merely scanning the page or checking out as the mind wanders to that project that is due at work, or that paper that is due at school. If that is you, you are not the only one. If that is you, you may want to consider the following when reading a passage or teaching that you want to retain:
Read and re-read the same passage over and over again. Read it as many times that is needed to understand what the passage is telling you and to remember it going forward. First read-through: Read as you normally would. Second read-through: Read out loud. Read the passage once more, picturing yourself in the scene. What do you imagine the scene is like? What do you see around you? How do you feel? In the last read through, use a pen or pencil to mark the passage. Underline anything that stands out, and feel free to write down any observations that come to mind.
Yes, this does seem like a lot of time and effort to go through. The reality is most passages won’t take you longer than 15 minutes for all 5 steps. And you’ll find that the more you engage with a passage, the more you’ll notice the details and nuances you didn’t see before.
Remember the goal isn’t to earn extra credit or to impress God with our efforts, but rather to grow deeper in knowledge and love for God. You can do that just as well through studying a handful of verses as you would reading chapters upon chapters at a time.
- What system do you use if you want to retain a passage of scripture? Does it work?
- What are the advantages of having a deeper knowledge of scripture in your day-to-day walk with God?