The reasons people read the Bible fall into two main categories. There are those who study the Bible, comparing one verse with another, researching the original language and setting, looking for answers to intellectual questions, preparing for a class or Bible study or sermon. And then there are those who go to the Bible for spiritual food.
There’s nothing wrong with studying the Bible. Most of us need to do more of that. The Bible itself talks a lot about the benefits God’s word provides to those who study it diligently. I’ve studied the Bible since I was a little girl. I’ve read it through many times. I’ve studied the original languages and culture and setting. I’ve read books, taken classes, and listened to countless expository sermons and teachings. And I’m grateful for every one of those things.
But it’s possible to do all those things and still not have your heart changed. There are professors at divinity schools who know as much or more about the Bible than you or I do, and still do not believe in God. Satan himself knows the Bible better than we do, and even believes in God. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble!” (James 2:19)
There is a huge difference between studying the Bible for knowledge and going to the Bible as a starving person looking for nourishment. Tweet that.
I hope you study the Bible. And today there are countless resources to help you do that, including free resources online. But you’ll never grow spiritually until and unless you go to the Bible for spiritual food. Even preachers can fall into the trap of only studying the Bible for the purpose of writing, or sermons, or some other professional activity. Each one of us – from the brand new Christian to the mature man or woman of God – must regularly and hungrily feed on God’s word for ourselves, desperate for the nourishment that can only be found there.
5 Steps to Finding Spiritual Food in the Bible
When your marriage is about to collapse, when you or a loved one is desperately ill, when someone you love has just died, or when your heart is broken for some other reason, intellectual Biblical pronouncements only scratch the surface. They don’t feed the desperately empty places in your soul. That’s when you must know how to find spiritual food in God’s word.
When I arrived home from the hospital after my husband’s death I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down with my Bible – not to answer some list of questions in a pre-printed Bible study guide, or to learn something about the original languages. I needed something much deeper and more personal than that. I went to 1 Corinthians 15, and let Paul’s words about the defeat of death percolate into the devastated places of my heart. I knew where to go because of the previous time I had spent studying the Bible, and I’m glad I did.
I hope you study the Bible too, so that you know where to go when you need it. But here are some steps to think about in going to God’s word not for study, but for spiritual food.
- Go with an open heart. Whatever you’re dealing with, bring it to Scripture; anger, fear, grief, pain, weakness, sickness, anxiety, frustration, confusion, bitterness, pride, loneliness, lack of money or energy or faith. Open that most vulnerable place in your heart, and make the mental choice to let God speak into you through His word. Make a point to not only bring your mind, but your heart and soul.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Crying out in your desperation to God helps your heart be open. Ask His Holy Spirit to bring you to the part of His Word that you need to feed on, and to turn it from words on a page into nourishment for your soul.
- Start with a passage that speaks to your problem. If you know where that is, go right to it. If you’re not sure where to start, go to either the Psalms or the Gospel of John. Cry out with David as He begs God to deliver him from his enemies, or cleanse him from his sin. Walk with Jesus as He ministers healing, deliverance, and hope to people just like you.
- When something speaks to you, stop. When you go to God’s word for spiritual food the goal is not to read a certain number of verses or chapters. If you go with your heart open, you will come to a passage that grabs at you. You’ll feel a pull in your soul at that moment; tears will come, or sadness will lift, or a lightbulb will come on in your mind. Stop at that point. Take some time to savor that morsel of spiritual food.
- Put yourself in the verse(s). You get the most nourishment from Scripture when you put yourself into the passage. Imagine yourself in the story, or read the passage out loud and think about God saying it directly to you. When your heart feels something to pray, just talk with God about it. Wrap your mental arms around the message of those verses, and hold it close to you as you go about your day.
You don’t have to wait until you’re in a desperate situation to go the Bible for spiritual food. I do this every day in my quiet time with God. And you can too.
Regularly, daily, getting spiritual nourishment from God’s word is the way to grow spiritually.
Your Turn: Are you only studying the Bible? Or are you also going to the Bible for spiritual food? What does that look like for you? Leave a comment below.
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- Do you know how to get spiritual food from reading the Bible? Here are 5 steps. Tweet that.
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