There is no one way to have a quiet time. But there is a way to get more out of your personal devotions.
Depending on my schedule, my quiet time will look different from season to season. But regardless of how much time I have allotted for personal devotions or what’s going on in my life, I try to follow this strategy. I like to read through one book of the Bible at a time.
You may have tried this method if you’ve started a chronological reading plan, but they aren’t quite the same. Chronological reading plans assign you a specific number of verses to read each day. If you miss a day in your reading plan, it’s easy to get discouraged. With too much reaching to catch up on, it’s easy to abandon your quiet time altogether, or even skip ahead.
When I read through a book of the Bible in my devotions, I don’t follow a schedule. So, if a quiet time doesn’t happen on a particular day, I just pick up where I left off during my next devotion.
Here’s 3 reasons you should read one book at a time, too.
1) Better understanding of the Scriptures
If you spend most of your time hopping around from passage to passage in the Bible, you’re likely to miss the big picture or main message the author is trying to convey in his book. But when you read through an entire book, you’re more likely to remember what you read and how a book fits into the entire story of the Scriptures.
For instance, if you were to read through Isaiah, you would hear the prophet’s call for Israel to fulfill the calling God gave His people – a call to be righteous servants to a watching world. Their failure to be God’s holy servant is the common thread that runs through the prophet’s warnings.
2) Better interpretation
Not only do you miss the big picture of a book when you hop from passage to passage, but you also miss what the individual passages mean. When you read through a book of the Bible, you get a better sense of the overall context of the book’s message, how individual sections relate to the whole meaning of the book.
Let’s use our same example – Isaiah. When you read about the Suffering Servant in Is. 52-53, you are better able to connect some very important interpretative dots.
The Suffering Servant becomes important not only for what he did (died a death he didn’t deserve to take away the sins of God’s people) but for what his death means in light of the book’s overall context – to enable God’s people to truly become His servants in the way He desire from the very beginning.
The Suffering Servant passages aren’t just Messianic prophecies, but iron-clad promises that one day, God’s people would be transformed into true and holy servants once again.
3) Better application
When you read through one book of the Bible, and benefit from those panoramic and zoom views, you automatically become better equipped to apply what you’re reading. After reading through Isaiah, I became increasing convicted about how I lived my life as a true and holy servant. I realized God was calling me to pursue those things the Ultimate Servant, Jesus Christ, came to enable us to do – provide comfort to the poor, seek justice for the oppressed, and more.
You cannot read Isaiah and remain unchanged – my mind, heart, and feet were all impacted by what I read.
What we’re reading in the Bible should change us. And we’re more to be transformed if we’re intentional about how we’re reading it.
We need a better way to understand, interpret, and apply of God’s Word. When we read the Scriptures one book a time, we’re giving God’s Spirit more room to work in our lives.
Melissa’s motto as a Christian journalist and creative writer is to “tell of God’s marvelous works” (Ps. 9:1). And with almost 15 years experience in print and editorial services, God has embedded Melissa with passions gleaned from stories and experiences from the field. But helping women fall in love with the sweetness of God’s Word truly makes her heart sing. Two years ago, she launched HiveResources.com to help women sweeten their walk with Christ through Bible study, missions resources, and more. She recently published a 10-week Bible study, Daughters of the King, to help women find their place in the biblical story. Melissa has a M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University. She and her husband, Jonathan, are currently part of a church plant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They have five-year-old twin boys, Zacharias and Jonah, who are unwittingly and joyfully shaping them into the image of Christ.
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8/22/2014 04:13:59 pm
Melissa - this is such a great article. I agree with you 100%. This is something that has been on my heart lately, and the direction God has been moving me toward in my own spiritual walk. It can be educational and even fascinating to read chronologically, or do topical studies, but at the end of the day, a book must be read from start to finish in order to gain proper understanding of context and the writer's message. It is the healthiest way to read the Bible - in my opinion - so as not to proof-text or fall into theological error.
8/27/2014 06:18:05 am
Rosilind, I agree! Practically speaking, I find I learn so much more when I read one book at a time!
Presently our church is reading through the Bible.
8/27/2014 06:18:53 am
Michelle, stay tuned next month! I'm continuing this series with some more practical applications!
8/26/2014 08:29:28 am
I tend to get more out of my reading when I read one book at a time, too. The pressure of "keeping up" with a reading plan that specifies a certain amount a day can detract from the focus on enjoying the presence of God, being still enough to listen.
8/27/2014 06:21:37 am
Amber, thanks for stopping by! Being still enough to listen is my biggest obstacle! It is easy to want to read one verse here and one verse there, and cherry-pick our way through the Bible instead of learning to feast on an entire meal, chew thoughtfully on what we're reading, and ingest it into our lives!
8/27/2014 05:37:26 pm
I'm so happy to be here from Chronicles of Grace. I love to study the Word book by book!
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