Engage with Scripture
Reading and studying Scripture are pursuits that require the attention of both heart and mind. To love the Lord with all our strength, we must actively engage with Scripture—asking questions, learning contexts, making connections, and reflecting on personal applications of the text.
Here are a few ideas for how to enrich your time in God’s Word:
1. Rewrite individual verses and passages.
When it comes to meditation and memorization, few things are more helpful than repetition. As simple as it may sound, writing out large swaths of Scripture can help you internalize and apply it to your own life. Rehearse the words of Scripture in your mind as you write them in your own handwriting. Go slowly, then repeat. This allows God’s Word to hide in your heart and come to mind later.
To love the Lord with all our strength, we must actively engage with Scripture.
2. Create your own study notes alongside passages of Scripture.
Create your own set of cross-references, copy compelling quotes from a commentary, or write notes from your personal study or group discussions. In essence, create your own set of study notes to help you understand the meaning and context of the Scriptures. Use other resources to compile useful information to help you understand the text.
3. Journal through or meditate on the meaning of passages.
Take time to reflect on the application of the Scriptures. What does the passage teach you about God? What does it teach you about yourself? How can you see the Lord stirring in your heart and life as you encounter him in Scripture? Revisiting your notes later can prove a helpful way to see the Lord at work in your life, as his Word works in you.
The ESV Scripture Journal: New Testament Set includes 19 volumes, featuring the text of each New Testament book opposite lightly lined blank pages for recording notes and prayers—a great resource for personal Bible reading and reflection, group Bible studies, or sermon notes.
4. Record sermon notes at church.
As your church works through a particular book of the Bible, keep a collection of sermon notes. Record important historical details, contextual helps, and thoughtful questions. Refer to them throughout the week or later in home group discussion as you talk through the message with others in your church.
5. Pray through the Bible.
Don Whitney’s book Praying the Bible offers some great insight into how to pray through the Scriptures and then use them as jumping-off points for specific prayer for yourself and others. It can be incredibly powerful to use God’s Word to speak to God. The Scriptures can also be a great place to start when seeking to go to him with things that matter deeply to him. Who does a passage bring to mind? What current crisis or situation does a certain verse cause you to think of? Use these prompts to write out your petitions to the Lord.
A new edition that allows readers to journal directly beside the text of individual books of the Bible.
Reading the Bible devotionally is about engaging with the text at the heart level.
Consider using these eight tips, and use a notebook or the margins of your ESV Journaling Bible to record thoughts and sermon notes.