Reading the Bible with Intentionality
Approaching the Bible can be a difficult task. In my personal experience however, the breakthrough usually comes when I have specific intentionality while I read. Instead of reading out of obligation, I open the Word with earnest expectation and intentionality. Our minds are designed in such a way as to soak in the most data when our learning is connected with authentic interest.
Here are a few suggestions on reading the Bible with intentionality--so that it flows more easily into our everyday life. In all these approaches, underlining, highlighting things, as well as taking notes is very helpful. Praying for God to guide us to the places we should go in our reading is also very good to do.
1. The Relational Intent
There are times in which I open my Bible, because I decided I want to know God more deeply. I don’t look for simple data or facts, I look for where God reveals himself in his actions and his words. I then walk away from the time with my Bible, feeling a stronger connection to God. Good books to read for this intent are the gospels and the historical books, as they show actual interaction with God and humanity.
2. The Apologetic Intent
Sounds like a big word, but what this basically is about is to find new arguments from the Bible that help us defend our faith in light of the doubts of the world. My intent here would be to walk away from my time in the word, feeling like I could more satisfyingly answer tough questions about everyday life, such as “Why would God allow suffering?” or the like. Often times, the question comes before the intent, meaning I am faced with a question and then start “digging”.
3. The Discipleship Intent
This is the time when we read our Bible, because we want to encourage and equip others in their own ministry and relationship with Jesus. With this intent, I open my Bible and prayerfully think about the people in my life, the circle of people that I have direct influence on, and I am trying to find the things that will strengthen them in their walk with Jesus or help them to start trusting Jesus for the first time. In other words, I try to apply the gospel to real flesh and blood people.
There are more examples and the Holy Spirit usually leads us to the intent that brings us to the Bible before we start reading. The important thing is to be open to the promptings and to acknowledge the fact that the Bible is our source of truth, to which we will be lead by God.Hopefully this makes your time in the Word more alive and meaningful.