The Holy Bible is our roadmap in life written by saints, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and known to be authentic and miraculous by the one, holy, universal, and apostolic Church. As Heart of God, King David tells us, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” With this belief, we search this book undoubtedly for the way to everlasting life.
So, how should we proceed to read and understand the Holy Bible? You may be a first-timer or a life-long reader, either way, these 9 tips can help elevate your spiritual journey.
There is no one way to do so, but we can help provide some tips to consider reading the Word of God:
- Read with Reverence. Before even starting we must consider the Bible holy and read it with reverence. Handle it with care. In it you will find a way to lead your life, you will find words of comfort and guidance. To our fathers, the prophets and apostles, our Lord often taught by His voice and by revelation and while this may be the case for us as well, we must consider this our main way of hearing His word and revelation.
- Pray for Guidance. Try to pray before and after reading the Bible that God may guide you every step of the way. Remember it is not just any book. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
- Accept it as Truth. Along with that, we must aim to be obedient as it is God’s word. Before even reading it we should accept it as Truth. Even though it may seem to be difficult sometimes, with an open and accepting heart the guidance of the Holy Spirit will enlighten the scripture you read. Even if you do not understand, don’t give up. Pray about what you read and give yourself time to digest the words on the pages. Always ask, what is God teaching me through this passage?
- Be consistent. Aim to have a consistent reading schedule for holy scripture. Show your commitment to the word of God by the amount of time you invest in it. Do not be like those that, "fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away..." when you read the Word of God. For the Word of God is sweet but we must not think it is enough to read it once in a while, we must create a relationship of great depth with it. To know ourselves as Christians, we must read God’s manual on how to be so. Reading the Bible is just as important as a prayer to your spiritual life, in prayer you talk to God and through the Bible, God talks back. (Among other ways, of course.)
- Read it in its entirety. When reading the Bible, don’t read it in an isolated fashion. Aim to get the big picture as well as the meaning of singular verses. Looking at only the context of a singular verse leads to misinterpretation. Try to read a book or a chapter in the Bible from the beginning and finish it as it was written (and meant to be read).
- Discover its history. Research the context of the book you are reading. (ie who wrote it, why, where, to whom, when?) Knowing the history behind the books that we read can prove to be extremely beneficial in understanding the big picture.
- Use a guiding question. Also, you may find it helpful to use a guiding question to motivate your reading if you find yourself needing an impetus to read. An example may be: “What does the Holy Bible say about Christian virtues?”
- Resources. Utilize resources to help you understand. These may include online Bible studies that can be found on http://suscopts.org/diocese/bishop/bible-study/, http://www.orthodoxsermons.org/,https://www.youtube.com/user/franthonymesseh, simply searching the book which you wish to read. It is always a great option to also reach out to clergy, deacons, and servants at your Church to seek further guidance. It’s important not to rely on none Orthodox resources especially online if you do not feel strong enough to decipher heretical teachings if you come across them.
- Get a Reading Buddy. Find a reading buddy to keep you accountable and to discuss scripture with. “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” Ecc 4:9-12
Though these guidelines are not exhaustive, they serve as a basis to move forward with reverence and intentionally. As they say, you are what you read, watch, and listen too...how blessed would it be to ooze scripture! May God help us to be faithful in our pursuit of Him and His life-giving word.
Reminder: *When we have questions, always seek further guidance from clergy, deacons, and fathers.*
Glory to God,