Do you ever feel like your brain goes on autopilot when you read a familiar Bible story? You’ve read it so many times throughout your life that it’s lost its luster.
It’s kind of like that favorite painting hanging in your house that’s been there so long you don’t even notice it’s there anymore.
You need a way to make old Scripture come alive again.
After several years experimenting with the way I read my Bible, I stumbled on a method that did just that. I introduced the idea to my Bible study group, and they loved it too.
I gave it the acronym SOUL so it was a little easier to remember. Once you practice doing it for a while, you won’t even need the acronym, but it’s nice to have when you’re getting started.
S – Scripture – Read the Bible verses a few times slowly, taking your time.
Have you ever caught yourself racing through your Bible readings like there’s someone standing at the end of the chapter with a Target gift card and your favorite Starbucks drink?
The words are entering your mind but not the point of them.
There are no rewards for reading your Bible fast, but many spiritual rewards come from slowing down a little bit. I’m not saying slow motion turtle speed, but just take it a little easier. Chew on the words like your Mom’s delicious chocolate chip cookies and let it soak in a little.
O – One Thing – What’s the one thing that keeps standing out to you?
The Holy Spirit is alive and active when you’re reading your Bible. This Spirit isn’t just some sort of an idea, it’s alive. It’s tugging on you and moving your own spirit to notice or be drawn to certain things as you read.
Pay attention. What stands out? What if you let yourself believe it stood out because the Holy Spirit wanted it to just for you. Like your own hidden secret code to uncover?
U – Uncover – Sit quietly and ponder how it could apply to your life right now.
Give yourself a few minutes to sit and think about the words, phrases, or concepts from the Bible that really caught your eye. Maybe even let your mind drift. What’s been bothering you lately? What’s been keeping you up at night or worrying you when your mind has a few spare moments? What have you been excited and joyful about?
Ponder for a few minutes if there’s any way the Scripture that stuck out to you when you read the Bible directly speaks to those things that are going on in your life right now. Maybe even answers a question or gives some clarity.
As you do this, really watch Jesus. How does he move through the story and react? What does he say or do in reaction to other people and the situations He finds himself in?
In these ways, watching Jesus in Scripture, the Holy Spirit can give us greater spiritual understanding about our own life.
L – Learn – Write down the one thing you’ll take with you throughout your day.
As you pondered and thought about your life and that Scripture that kept standing out to you, what’s a question that came to mind? An idea about how they might be related?
Write it down so you can ponder it a bit more as you go about your day. Not only will writing it down help you remember better, but also it’s fun to go back through your journal every week or so and read through the entries. It can give you a real feel for how God is moving in your life and prayer over time.
But how do you choose what Scripture to read?
Reading Scripture like this can be extremely helpful if you choose to focus on the verses you will be hearing in church on Sunday.
Remember being a kid and, when the teacher introduced a new concept, your mind was blown at first? Sometimes you even shut down because the new concept was too much to comprehend.
Scripture can be like that. There’s just so many verses thrown at us in such a short amount of time each Sunday that it’s impossible to take it all in.
Using “SOUL” to read through the Scriptures ahead of time can really give you a better feel for the overall message.
Then, if you’re mind gets distracted by the crying baby during the Scripture readings at church Sunday morning, you’ll still have a good feel for what it was about. Doing this ahead of time can give you a good foundation so you also get more out of the sermon or homily your pastor gives as well.
My Bible study and I even take this one step further. On Monday, we get together and talk about what we got out of the Scriptures all week. We talk about how it affected our lives, what we are struggling with, and what we still don’t understand.
It’s a nice way to learn from each other but also to remember we aren’t alone. Everyone struggles with their faith and with understanding it all at one point or another along the way.
If you have a friend or two you think might like to give this a try, I encourage you to get together (or Skype or Facetime) early in the week for just 30 minutes to an hour to discuss. Keep the time commitment low and even maybe say you’ll just do it for four or six weeks just to try it, so it’s not too overwhelming of a commitment for anyone.