The first method in Bible study is observation. In order to develop this step, you need to hone your reading skills. In order to improve your reading, you need to learn to read thoughtfully.
In his insightful work on studying the Bible Howard Hendricks writes, “Thoughtful reading involves study. Not boredom. Far from it. When you come to the Bible, put your thinking cap on. Don’t throw your mind into neutral. Apply the same mental discipline that you would to any subject in which you take a vital interest” (77).
We are all capable of reading thoughtfully, but many choose not to discipline themselves to become thoughtful readers. Rarely do we spend time reading with care unless the material is of utmost importance (i.e. sports section of the newspaper or an IRS audit). How much more important is it to thoughtfully read the Word of God which holds truths for our daily lives?
People who read and think thoughtfully are those who realize that how one lives is directly connected to how one thinks. If you truly believe that the Bible possesses wisdom for daily living, then it will show in your vigilant study in the Word. Remember what Peter said to Jesus in John 6:68 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Don’t rush through a passage. Take your time. Set aside some time to engage with the Word and seriously think about what the passage is saying. A couple of weeks ago, we spent some time looking at the questions that you should ask when you come to the Bible (Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?). You will not read thoughtfully unless you ask and answer these questions when you come to a text in the Bible.