One of the main reasons a lot of us probably have a hard time reading our Bibles with consistency is because it can feel dry or boring to us. We find ourselves falling asleep more than falling in love with the Law, as we see David doing in Psalm 119.
It can be really difficult to stay focused while reading Scripture, let alone get excited about what it tells us about who God is and who we are.
I am thankful that I attended Taylor University for a multitude of reasons, and one of those reasons is that I got to study a bit with a guy by the name of Dr. Phil Collins (no, not that one; the other one). Phil is an incredible professor: he knows his material, he loves his students, he loves his family, and he loves the Word of God.
Phil and Dr. Steven Bird (a master statistician) have been working together for a number of years on a Scripture Engagement project through Taylor University, and have established the Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement. My wife Susie got to help out in some of the early stages of this project on a trip to Singapore, and it has been a joy for me to see Phil’s passion for the Word of God translate into this important ministry.
He recently partnered with Bible Gateway to host a good amount of the practical material on their site. You need to check it out. The vision of the Center for Scripture Engagement is simply this: “to equip people to engage the Scriptures in ways that will drive evangelism, personal discipleship, worldview formation, and church planting.” Maybe you’ll consider partnering with them in some way.
Anyway, most days, I try to engage with Scripture in ways that go beyond simply reading it and putting it down. It helps me understand and think about what I’ve just read if I DO something with what I’ve just read. Maybe it’s the same for you. Here are five easy ways that you can engage with the Bible in such a way that you may get a little more out of your daily devos:
1. Journaling Scripture
This one is definitely my favorite, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best. My brain works in such a way that I might understand something 70% as well as I could when I read about it—I tend to be a pretty distracted reader at times. But usually I feel like if I write about something I read, I get all 100% out of what I read. I think this is why teachers and professors make us write papers about things.
When it comes to the Bible or any other book, really, I might get 70-80% out of it when I just sit and read it. But man, if I can write about it, I’ll really be rockin’-and-rollin’.
What’s journaling Scripture? It’s exactly what it sounds like: writing out questions, reflections, or any other thoughts you may have. A lot of times, I’ll just do a Discovery Bible Study in my journal, which is a great way to get deep into the text.
This is why I started blogging in the first place, long, long ago.
2. Hand Copying Scripture
This is my SECOND favorite way to engage Scripture beyond just reading it. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Instead of reading a passage and putting your Bible away after bumbling through names like Amminadab, Jehoshaphat, and others, take the time to write out the Scripture for yourself.
This might sound really boring and lame, but trust me, you’ll be surprised what you catch when you write it out for yourself.
There is a great tool for doing this, too! They’re called Journibles, and they help you both copy Scripture and engage with it like in the journaling method above. I’ve done the Romans Journible. I highly recommend you check those out.
3. Praying Scripture
This is a popular one that I’ve heard about from a number of friends. What does it really mean to “pray the Scriptures” though? Phil has a helpful explanation:
Praying the Scriptures allows you to use the words and emotions of the Bible to gain more confidence in your prayers. What do we mean when we say to “pray scripture?” Evan Howard (Praying the Scriptures) writes, “To pray the Scriptures is to order one’s time of prayer around a particular text in the Bible.” This can mean either praying the prayers of the Bible word-for-word as your own prayers, personalizing portions of the Scriptures in prayer, or praying through various topics of the Bible.
I need to try this one out more often, to be sure.
4. Memorizing Scripture
This is one method of Scripture Engagement most Christians are familiar with. Many of us grow up in church memorizing Bible verses for candy or stars or something like that.
Honestly, I’ve always been really awful at memorizing Scripture. I think it is because of both 1) a lack of discipline, and 2) a difficulty remembering things. There are some passages I know and will always know (like Psalm 23), but memorizing Scripture is super tough for me, and takes a lot of work for most (some more than others).
Thankfully, there are a number of great tools for memorizing Scripture, especially now with the revolution of the smartphone.
My favorite method of memorizing Scripture is through the Fighter Verses app on my iPhone. Fighter Verses were created by Children Desiring God, an organization I was supremely blessed to intern with one summer. I love the Fighter Verses app. Also, fun fact, I wrote all of the trivia questions for all of the verses!
5. Visualizing Scripture
This is one that I have definitely never done, but would love to at least try sometime. For those of you who are more artsy types, it may be beneficial for you to engage with the Bible by making some sort of art to go along with what you’re reading.
You don’t need to paint the ceiling of your church like you’re Michelangelo or something, but you could do some art in your journal, or paint a picture, or something like that. I am about the least artistic person on the planet, so this is not as appealing to me as some of the other methods, but I might give it a shot sometime!