How many times have you opened your Bible and hoped for a new thought, new revelation, or something you could apply today? And how many times have you finished no more enlightened than before you started?
It’s extremely frustrating. I can’t count the number of times this has happened to me and frankly still does. But one simple practice made those days much less common. This one concept, this one word, has transformed my Bible reading.
The word why.
Becoming inquisitive in your study of Scripture is key to further understanding. How do you do this?
- Read slowly. Don’t be in a rush to get through a passage or a chapter. If you’re in a rush to cross “Read the Bible” off your to-do list, you won’t catch these “why” opportunities.
- Don’t skip over parts that don’t make sense at first. There is no way any of us will understand everything in the Bible, but some things will become more clear if we’re alert and…
- Pause over the parts that don’t make sense or seem out of the ordinary. Take mental note when you read something you don’t understand or when something is different than what you’ve seen in prior reading.
- Ask, “Why?” This should be a key prayer. You’re not questioning God; you’re inquiring of him. You’re showing him you seek a deeper understanding of the text. Many times by meditating over this question in prayer, the answer will become clear to you, but other times you may be prompted to…
- Do simple research. There has never been a better time to study the Bible than in the 21st century! So many answers to our questions are one Google search away! I’m going to give you an example of this below, but I’ll also be sharing my favorite tools in future posts.
- Journal your discovery. If you find an answer to your “why” either by prayer or doing more research – both of which can be primary methods of the Holy Spirit to speak truth to your heart – it’s notable! Make notes of how this may apply to your life. Even if you’re not the journaling type, just a few sentences will do.
Of course, not every “why” question will be answered. Just today I read a passage that completely perplexed me. I followed all of the steps above and am no closer to an answer. And that’s ok. Maybe I’ll get deeper insight through a sermon, a conversation, or a book someday. I need to trust that God will reveal what I need at the right time. But many times we miss this revelation by simply neglecting to ask “why.”
Need an example? Follow my journey as I read a passage in Mark last week:
- I read Mark 8:22-26 where Jesus healed the blind man at Bethsaida.
- I didn’t skip over these few verses to get to the next ones where Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ.
- I paused over verses 23 and 26, where Jesus not only made a point to both take the blind man out of the village of Bethsaida before he healed him, but he also commanded him not to enter Bethsaida after he healed him. I knew this wasn’t customary based on some of his other healings I had read previously in my reading of Mark.
- I asked, “Why was Jesus so intent about keeping this man away from the village of Bethsaida? What were characteristics of this village?”
- I did some simple research on Bethsaida at the time. I enlisted the help of Google by searching, “New Testament Scriptures in Bethsaida.” Interestingly enough, Wikipedia pointed me to the following Scriptures where Jesus spoke, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Matthew 11:21 and Luke 10:13) I also found in my Google search that the Feeding of the 5,000 likely took place on the Plain of Bethsaida. (source) So from two simple sites I learned that Bethsaida had seen many mighty works of God, including the Feeding of the 5,000, and still refused to repent of their sin.
- I journaled my discovery. I discovered that Jesus wanted this man away from those who refused to repent. Perhaps he didn’t want this man with newfound faith and purpose in life to be influenced by those who lacked faith, didn’t repent, and subsequently rejected Christ. How did this apply to me? Again, I knew from prior reading that this way of doing things wasn’t customary of Jesus and his healings. Just three chapters prior, Jesus told the man he healed from demon-possession to go back to his village (Mark 5:1-20). By seeing these different ways of handling situations, I saw that Jesus handled every person and situation individually according to their needs. And in the case of this man, he sought to protect him from faithless influence. My takeaway: I need to be vigilant with those under my care (my children particularly but also young believers in my influence) and perhaps take steps to shield them from faithless influences, particularly until they’ve had a chance to mature.
I hope this example helped to shed some light on how simply asking “Why” can transform your Bible study. How many of us would delight if our children came to us asking why we do the things we do in a way that is genuinely seeking wisdom? In the same way, God delights in his children seeking to know him better. Developing an inquisitive mind in your Bible study is a great place to start.
Did you enjoy this post? I’d love to hear from you! You might also like 5 Books of the Bible to Begin Your Scripture Reading Routine.