Many of us struggle to read the Bible because the contents in the Bible aren’t always easy to understand literally.
A standard Bible translation comprises 3, 566, 480 letters. Those letters are then condensed into 783, 137 words, and the words are filled into 31,101 verses, and the verses are packaged into what we describe as chapters. There are 1,189 chapters found in 66 books of the Bible and 66 books are divided into two divisions known as ‘Old Testament’ and ‘New Testament.’ But that’s not our focus here.
Have you ever read the Bible and felt as if you are heading nowhere, nothing makes sense, felt as though the contents are outdated? Have you ever encountered people who have read the Bible so much but they don’t get it?
One aspect of communications preachers, pastors, and orators use to understand scriptures is called ’The World in front of the text.’ Delbert Burkett defines this aspect as ‘The meaning of the text for contemporary readers.’
This aspect of communication ushers us into a divine room and allows us to see, feel and receive from God through scriptures. It is the simplest way to read and understand scriptures.
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How do we read the scriptures using the most straightforward aspect of communication? I am glad you’ve asked.
Mandatory! It’s Mandatory you pray before you open your Bible or read any scriptures. It is not a religious mundane but a key communication system we have with God. Prayers connect our conscious with the heavens, it stills our minds and hearts. It gives way to the presence of God. In prayer, we invite God to speak to us. We notify the heavens that we are ready to receive.
In prayer, we approach scriptures from a meditational and confessional posture, whereas without prayer the Bible becomes merely an encyclopedia.
2. Ask Questions – Bring your problems to the texts.
When you begin reading the scriptures, you need to bring your world in front of the scriptures you are reading. Your world is your reality, your issues, your circumstance and etc. We bring our world by asking questions. The most powerful attribute of the scriptures is that they speak, so we ask questions.
I.e. Question: What’s God speaking to me through this scripture? Can I relate to these people? Is my situation similar to what the scripture is saying? What’s in for me? What did I learn from this scripture?
Place your situation inside the scripture, replace the characters mentioned in the scripture with yourself. If it is a passage, does it relate to your situation? or is there a segment within a passage that matches your circumstances or your feelings? If it is a narrative, where do you fit in? What aspect of the narrative correlates with your emotions? Watch out for passages or narratives with anonymous characters; anonymous characters are like blank spots where we can insert ourselves in the story.
Listen to what the spirit has to say through the scriptures you are reading. This is the one step we often skip. The scriptures speak back to us when we ask questions. The Bible is not a history book, it is the immediate word of God, and it is relevant to the contemporary world when we ask questions and insert ourselves in it.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 NLT
The scriptures become relevant and significant to us contemporarily when we ask questions. We find meaning, purpose, and revelation in scriptures when we bring our world to the scriptures and when we insert ourselves into the scriptures.
After reading and asking questions, listen and wait. Many of us pray, read then walk away empty. The act of reading the Bible is simply pouring out our problems and then picking up answers for our problems. Pray, Read, Listen, and Repeat. Every word out of 3, 866, 480 words has significance. Every scripture is a concealed answer to a situation.
The Bible has an answer to any circumstance for every generation.
Question from Marc Bope, the author.
What has helped you read and understand scriptures from the Bible?