How to Read the Bible: Eat This Book
Pass the carrots, please.”
“May I please have the butter?”
“Is there another slice of bread?”
We eat. Three times a day. Mostly out at the old table on the front porch these days, ringing it with the passing of the butter, the bread, the water pitcher. The swallows swoop and line the telephone lines at the road like notes on a bar of music, a cup or two spills (always), and the flag flaps in the wind.
And when the last plate is licked clean, or sometimes still when a pondering one still chews on, someone asks.
“Pass out the Bibles, please?”
And someone who’s laid aside their fork leans over and opens the worn wooden lid of the tool box repurposed as Bible Box (aren’t Bibles the most needed life-tool?) and passes around the everlasting loaves.
It’s the only way our family has ever eaten. Because it’s the only way Farmer Husband ever ate, the only way his parents ever ate. When you finish a meal, you read Bread from heaven (always). It’s not the only way manna is eaten here… we savor too in private, early at prayer bench, day seeping gold through corn fields, late, before last light out while His night light’s wink on.
But if we sit to fill tummies, we always sit to fill souls on the truest of bread. Breakfast: from the gospels, chronologically, just one section of one chapter. Noon meal: from the Psalms. Evening gathering: Verses from the Proverbs, or maybe return to savor an earlier reading. And always a Bible for each hungry person who sits, regardless of age, same version all around the table.
It will be loud, there will be interruptions, someone will have to be nudged along, there may even be some chafing and scraping (Does the enemy ever want us to open the Word, soul’s richest pantry?)… but this serving three times a day of real nourishment is, without question, the most transformative act in our personal journey as parents, as people.
Wind rustles through the sunflowers, the dog under the table thumps his tail on the wooden porch floor, the cutlery’s still clattering, mouths chattering, and we’re ready to read, today from the book of John.
“Everyone found John 6?” Farmer Husband helps Malakai find his page. And then we eat together, all voices reading, softly (sometimes too loudly) braiding:
“Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
Voices all melding together, we lay words on tongues, let the savors of truth meld into being.
Get the good to the gut that sinews and synapses might live like the Savior.
Eat this book.
“And he said to me:… eat all that thou shalt find: eat this book.”~Ez. 3:1
Five Ways to Eat the Bible:
There are varied ways to eat healthy, and we often eat differently in different seasons… so it goes with Manna from heaven. Here are some spiritual diets I’ve experienced….
1. In Slow time…
Instead of swallowing large portions of scripture, certain seasons I eat very slowly, savoring only a few verses at a time by first listening to His Word, reading only a few verses…. then I linger, quietly meditating on those 2-3 verses, turning the words over and over…. then to lift voice in prayer, pray the Scriptures back to God… and then live the Words, contemplate on the verses long, and throughout the day, that hand and feet and tongue might do them.
For more: How to Savor the Bible
2. In Community…
In addition to meal-time meditations, there have been seasons where we’ve had personal quiet time together as a family, so children see parents savoring truth and parents can model how to eat.
For more: Communal Quiet Time
3. In Audio …
I’m making it a habit that when I clean, or run the morning routine, do domestic tasks, to always slip in another disk of the audio Bible: clean the heart while cleaning the house.
For More: Listen for free every day to the Daily Audio Bible and what I have in the stereo: Inspired By . . . The Bible Experience
4. In a Year …
There have been many seasons where I’ve read the Bible in a year. Perhaps my most favorite plan was with this plan on a bookmark, that has only 25 readings slotted a month, allowing for five catch-up days. And no flipping back and forth to find the plan…. Just tuck in the bookmarks. And begin whatever time of the year with whatever Bible you have.
5. In Book Repeat …
This way of eating Scripture has yielded very toned, healthy souls and I highly recommend it to hungry hearts. I have found “the book repeat” way of Scripture reading truly lets a soul ruminate on Truth powerfully and effectively. Simply:
a. select a shorter book of the Bible (I’ve chosen Philippians once, Colossians another)
b. read it through
c. Then repeat, twenty times, reading at a your usual pace, considering the book as a whole meal…
As recommended by James M. Gray (1851-1935), in “How to Master the English Bible”
The first practical help I ever received in the mastery of the English Bible was from a layman. We were fellow-attendants at a certain Christian conference or convention and thrown together a good deal for several days, and I saw something in his Christian life to which I was a comparative stranger –a peace, a rest, a joy, a kind of spiritual poise I knew little about.
One day I ventured to ask him how he had become possessed of the experience, when he replied, “By reading the epistle to the Ephesians.” I was surprised, for I had read it without such results, and therefore asked him to explain the manner of his reading, when he related the following:
He had gone into the country to spend the Sabbath with his family on one occasion, taking with him a pocket copy of Ephesians, and in the afternoon, going out into the woods and lying down under a tree, he began to read it; he read it through at a single reading, and finding his interest aroused, read it through again in the same way, and, his interest increasing, again and again.
I think he added that he read it some twelve or fifteen times, “and when I arose to go into the house,” said he, “I was in possession of Ephesians, or better yet, it was in possession of me, and I had been ‘lifted up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ in an experimental sense in which that had not been true in me before, and will never cease to be true in me again.”
I confess that as I listened to this simple recital my heart was going up in thanksgiving to God for answered prayer, the prayer really of months, if not years, that I might come to know how to master His Word.
The only way that one really must read the bible? Regularly…. Like Jesus did it, by habit: “He stood up to read as was his custom” (Lk. 4:26). Daily…
Just like it is our custom to eat food.
“When all is said and done, your child’s scientific achievement, professional achievement, or sports achievement matter nothing if you miss this one, most important task. In our time and place, child Bible education has been largely left to churches. While weekly church programs have their place, particularly for the lost, they lack spiritual depth because of their time constraints. How good would your child be at math, if she only practiced it once a week? … With their time constraints, weekly church programs cannot impart deep Biblical knowledge.” An investment of 30 minutes a day, (the length of piano lessons), over four years, and you’ve just done the most important thing for your child you may ever do: Help them Eat This Book….
Care to share How you Eat this Book? It’d be soul-encouraging to be inspired by the way you chew on Truth. Just slip in the URL to a post in your corner of the web about reading the Bible. We look forward to learning from you! And may we humbly thank you for joining community to minister to the Love-Body….