Just because we believe God’s Word and pray about it doesn’t mean that we’re immediately given comprehensive understanding of Scripture. We have to adopt wise ways of approaching the text. So, to start, we should read in context. We shouldn’t forget what came before the section we’re reading.
The Bible is a big book. It can be intimidating to read, so many of us prefer reading books about the Bible. And if we do read the Bible, we can sometimes treat it like a mere instruction manual. We use it if needed, but otherwise we try to do things ourselves. It reminds me of trying to put together IKEA furniture without a manual. Unfortunately, as many of us have experienced, the instruction manual needs to be respected and read properly. Otherwise, our furniture may look disjointed in the end. Things are similar with the Bible. Failing to read it properly can lead to all kinds of trouble.
As we know of course, the Bible is much grander than any IKEA instruction manual. It’s a book with heights and depths, poetry and prose. Reading it requires even more purposefulness than reading other books. As I’ve read the Bible over the course of my life, here are a few things I’ve learned that have helped in my understanding it.
Believe. It’s important to remember that understanding the Bible requires faith. We have to believe it. Augustine challenged us, “Believe so that you may understand.” Augustine said those words because he himself never properly understood the Bible until he believed. The Bible is much like polarized lenses that fishermen use. Without polarized lenses, the water has an intense glare. But with polarized lenses, one can see into the water. The Bible requires faith for us to see its depths.
Pray and meditate. Prayer is often an afterthought, but we can’t understand anything spiritual unless God helps us and reveals it to us. We may have faith, but we still need help. We should pray that the Holy Spirit will help us understand His Word. As we pray, we remember our dependence on God for insight and wisdom. We should also take our time to meditate on God and His Word as we move through Scripture. Just like it takes time for a tree’s root system to soak up water, so our souls need time to be nourished by God’s Word.