I was brought up to believe that the Bible is The Word of God. As a child, I could recite the list of books that are in the Bible and had many popular verses memorized. But it wasn’t until one day in my teen years that God actually spoke to me through the Bible. I believe the first passage that came alive for me personally was Psalm 139, which begins:

O LORD, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts afar off.

and ends:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

For the first time, I realized how intimately God knows me and how intensely he cares about me. Up to that point, I believed that the Bible is God’s Word in theory; now I began to know it in my personal experience.

Since then, the in-depth study of God’s Word in the Bible has played a major part in my life. Last week, I shared my advice on how NOT to read the Bible. In this article, I’m turning to the other side of the issue by listing TEN WAYS TO READ THE BIBLE so that you hear God speaking to you.

(1) Respectfully. The Bible, as a whole or in part, has been a Holy Book for Jews, Christians and Muslims for many centuries. Make sure you honor that heritage as you read it.

(2) Appropriately. Read historical portions historically, poetic portions poetically, symbolic portions symbolically, personal letters as personal letters.

(3) Contextually. Understand powerful statements within the context of their place and time before applying them to current life situations.

(4) Deeply. Recognize that the whole Bible is about how the God of the Universe wants to relate to humans. Don’t just taste or nibble at its words; ingest and digest them.

(5) Devotionally. Recognize that the Bible is speaking to your soul, your innermost being, not just to your analytical mind.

(6) Personally. Once you understand the original context of a passage, consider what lesson it contains for your life and current issues you’re facing.

(7) Vulnerably. Be open to whatever God seems to be saying to you. Be ready to adjust your life based on his word, humbly, submissively.

(8) Expectantly. Eagerly anticipate what God may be saying to you through the passage you’re reading. Listen for his voice through the words on the page.

(9) Regularly. Once you’ve experienced hearing God through the Bible, think of it as an “Old Friend” you want to revisit as often as possible to hear more encouraging words.

(10) Thankfully. Realize what a miracle it is that the God of the universe wants to communicate with tiny little you and express your gratitude to him.

As you reevaluate the place of the Bible in your life, think of this word of guidance from one of its later books:

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4)

That’s a summary of what God is saying to you through the Bible.

— Pastor George Van Alstine