As a young teenager I made a promise to God that I would never go to bed at night before I had read a least one chapter in my Bible. I was pretty diligent in fulfilling my commitment, but honestly, I didn’t usually glean much from my reading.
It usually went down like this:
I would dart through the door with one second to spare before curfew, run upstairs, turn off the lights and collapse in bed exhausted after a long day and full-throttle night out with the young people from the church. Just before drifting off to sleep I would suddenly remember my commitment to read my Bible. I would sit up, turn the light back on and blitz through a chapter in Psalms before falling back asleep. My commitment was admirable, but my retention and absorption of God’s Word was minimal.
Our Goal for Bible study should not be how much we read at a setting, but how much we retain. Our objective is not to check off a spiritual to-do list, but rather to be transformed by the Word. That comes through diligent study. Bible reading is not the same as Bible study. It’s easy to read 5 or 10 chapters of a novel at one setting, but real Bible study is different. I’ve learned that less is more.
Our Goal for Bible study should not be how much we read at a setting, but how much we retain.
I’ve learned through experience that the best way to study is to slow down, study fewer verses at one setting and really dig deep into the message that God is speaking. When we speed-read through a large portion of scripture, we are missing out on the true impact of God’s Word.
Here are some suggestions for adopting a “less-is-more” approach:
- Don’t allow yourself to feel bad for only studying a few verses at a setting. We are not in competition with others. Studying less at a time doesn’t make us less of a student of God’s Word.
- Focus on 5-10 verses in your daily study time, especially if you are studying the New Testament. You may be able to tackle a few more verses at a time if you are studying a story in the Old Testament.
- Slowly read over the entire selection a few times. Get a feel for the overall theme. Then go back and read each verse, slowly and several times.
- Focus what each verse is saying. Utilize other Bible versions, commentaries or cross-references to further shed light on the message of each verse.
- Ask probing questions of each verse that you are studying. Employ the “W” questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
- God will speak to you as you study. Make sure to write down your thoughts so you don’t forget what God is revealing to you.
By slowing down and doing a more in-depth study of a smaller portion of scripture at a time, you will greatly increase what you are retaining from God’s Word. When it comes to effective Bible study, less is more!