Recently I posted a few ideas about how to study your Bible. I hope the post was encouraging as you think about how you will study God’s Word. This week my goal is not encouragement, but warning. I want to warn you about three wrong ways to read your Bible.
- Use a devotion book in place of your Bible. It’s shocking to me that one of the most common questions I am asked as a pastor is this: “Can you recommend a good devotion book?” My response usually involves a combination of biting my tongue, encouraging people to read the Bible itself, and recommending a few trustworthy resources. Unfortunately, many people bypass the Treasure itself and settle for another person’s description of the Treasure. Many people settle for a discussion about God’s Word when they could have God’s Word. My advice: don’t settle. Devotion books are fine, and there are some trustworthy resources available. Nevertheless, don’t let a devotion book take the place of God’s Word.
- Randomly open to a different passage each day. I doubt many people set out to read the Bible with this being their stated plan. However, from talking to church members over the years, I know many folks don’t have a plan at all. The result? They just sort of flip and drift around the Bible, reading verses here and verses there, never making connections to the overarching story of the Bible. Here’s the bottom line. No plan is a bad plan because your reading will become random and directionless.
- Read the Bible faithfully, but don’t spend time in prayer … OR … Spend all your devotion time praying, but don’t read the Bible. A few months back Rainer Publishing released my first published book, Pray Better (Pray Better has been rereleased under the Regular Pastor imprint). In that book I focus on prayer, but time and time again I talk about the importance of reading the Bible. That emphasis on Bible reading in no way minimizes the importance of prayer. It does, however, serve as a reminder that God speaks to us in the Bible and we respond through prayer. You know as well as I do that one sided conversations aren’t real conversations. So if you’re going to spend time alone with God, don’t do all the talking, and don’t just sit silently. Allow God to speak to you in his Word, then respond appropriately in prayer.
These are three mistakes I’ve seen people make when it comes to reading the Bible. What other mistakes have you seen? What other mistakes have you made? I’d love to hear from you.
Originally published December 21, 2015 on landoncoleman.com.