Why is reading and studying the Bible so hard? I have met so many people in our community, and outside our community who just struggle with getting into the Bible on a regular basis. Whether you call it a quiet time, Jesus time or Bible study time, it is something that is so important and needed so we can grow in our understanding of God and our faith and yet it can be so hard to do.
On my own Discipleship Training School (DTS) we had a speaker who shared about the Bible and how to study it. At the start of the week, he posed a question to the group “Who here believes what the Bible says is true” I confidently put up my hand, along with the rest of my classmates sure that we had the correct answer. His follow-up question wiped the smile off my face “Who here has read the whole thing” most of us had to put our hands down. He continued “How can you say you believe what the Bible says is true if you have never taken the time to read the whole thing”. He was so right, I had grown up going to church every Sunday and even taught Sunday school. I knew that David fought Goliath, God created the world, Jesus and his 12 disciples, about Moses and the burning bush, and many other events and stories from the Bible. But I had never taken the time to actually read the entirety of the book that my faith is based on. To say that now sounds crazy, but that was my truth.
I have rectified that since and have read through the Bible a number of times over the years since my DTS. I now lead DTS’s and speak on Bible study and pose the same questions to my students, with pretty much the same responses. Why is this? I’m sure there are many reasons that probably don’t change much from generation to generation….there’s not enough time, it’s too confusing, I don’t know where to start, etc. However, I have seen a trend in the current generation coming through our YWAM schools, the students don’t know that they can study the Bible for themselves. Like really get into it, ask questions of it, go to God with those hard questions and wrestle through the meaning of the complicated parts. We have become comfortable with our teachers, pastors, and youth group leaders telling us what the Bible says and have forgotten that we can read it and ask questions ourselves.
Yes, there are techniques that can be learnt for study, and I’m not saying that what our leaders and pastors have to say isn’t good or valuable but we need to know that we have permission to ask questions, seek God for the truth and read the Bible for ourselves. What would you say if someone asked you the question I was asked on my DTS? Can you say that you have read through the Bible? If not, I challenge you to do so….it will only take 72 hours of your life, a small investment for huge return. If you struggle with sitting down and reading, one of my favourite ways to overcome this is to grab a few friends and some good coffee, and read out loud together, taking a chapter each. It’s surprising how easy it becomes. Give space to make comments, ask questions, pray and discuss what it means as you go. You may surprise yourself how fun reading the Bible can actually be.
Helen joined us on staff in 2009. She is Australia born but grew up in Jersey, Channel Islands in the UK. Helen is passionate about seeing people understand who they are, discovering their gifts, and finding their purpose. Being active, heading outdoors and enjoying a good read in a hammock are just a few of her favourite things. She enjoys leading DTS’s and has been involved in leading ten so far!