How Do I Know What to Read in the Bible?

Lectio Divina Series: Conclusion

Lectio Divina is a great gift from God. I hope you have seen that this is not so much a technique as it is a simple way to connect with God through the Scriptures. God has always encountered his people in these sacred writings, and he is inviting you into deeper relationship. As we conclude this series of reflections, I want to answer one last question. How do you know what to read in the Bible?

Three Ways to Choose What to Read in the Bible

Through the centuries, Christians have usually approached this question in three different ways.

1) The lectionary

The first way (and my practice) is to follow a daily lectionary. A lectionary is a simple series of readings that the church appoints to be read everyday. It leads us through much of the Bible, including parts that we may not normally choose. The lectionary is used in one of our most common devotional practices, daily morning and evening prayer. As Christians pray together and read Scripture, the lectionary helps us know that wherever we are in the world, there are other Christians reading the same Scriptures and praying the same prayers.

If this interests you, it is easy enough to find the readings. There are usually three readings for each day, along with two sets of Psalms for morning and evening use. You can use them all in daily prayer, or you can choose one a day and use that for your Lectio Divina. The Forward Day by Day devotional booklets (online here) list the readings for each day. You can also find the lectionary online here.

2) A book at a time

The second way is to read through a specific book of the Bible as a way of praying through an entire book slowly. For example, you might pick a book like Galatians. Starting at Galatians 1:1, you would read a section at a time, over many days or weeks. Remember, the principle of slow reading means that you can’t read big chunks. You will need to discern how much to read and pray through in a day. Some Bibles break up sections with headings that make it easier to choose a shorter section.

3) By theme

The third way is to pick a theme that you want to examine more deeply, and then find a series of passages that speak to that theme. In the back of many Bibles is a helpful tool called a concordance. In it, you can look up a word that you want to pray about, ‘faith’ for example. Look up the word ‘faith’ in your concordance and you will find a list of ten to twenty verses about faith. You can pick one verse a day and pray through it.

Usually when I do this, I look up the verse and then read the larger section that it is a part of. For instance, let’s say you chose the classic verse from Ephesians 2:8 about being saved through faith. When you look at your Bible, you see that this is part of a larger section that goes from verse 4 to verse 10. Use that six-verse section as your material for the day. As you slowly pray through the list of verses about faith, over time you will gain a good understanding of what the Bible says about it. You will also find some profound insights into your own faith. You can do this with any theme. As a side note, you can also google “verses about faith” or any other theme, and you will be led to lots of verses.

In Conclusion

Remember, the point of prayer is not the technique. Lectio Divina is just a tool. No matter what you read in the Bible, the point is to grow deeper in your love of God and in wisdom about yourself. God is inviting you into a relationship. Don’t worry about getting it right; just show up every day, and you will grow.

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