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5 Practical Ways to Use the Bible

The Bible is the most valuable book on the entire universe. It’s valuable because of what it is: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). But how can we be equipped by the Scriptures? How can we get the most out of it, and what are some practical ways to use the Bible? I’ve offered five that I believe are most crucial:

1. Read the Bible

This is the most basic way we can be equipped by the Scriptures. Reading informs our mind and moves our heart. If we want to be equipped by the Bible, we must read it. We must take time out of our day and busy schedules to read the Bible. The more we read it, the more we will want to read it, and the more we will be equipped with its precepts and teachings. Perhaps the most beneficial way to read the Bible is by reading a few chapters a day, in the morning and the night. A good Bible reading plan can also be very helpful.¹ Do you read the Bible every day?

2. Meditate on the Bible

This is not simply a suggestion, but the Bible implies that we are to meditate upon it (Josh. 1:8; Psalm 119:15, 48, 97). Recall the first Psalm where the author says that the godly man was blessed in every way. The way he became blessed was because “his delight [was] in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2, emphasis mine). Scripture meditation involves pondering what we have read—perhaps a few verses or a few chapters. We think about what they mean for us, and ponder how to put them into action. Mediation involves allowing the Scripture to dictate our thought lives—to let it swim through our hearts and minds as we go about our daily tasks. Do you have some Scripture that you’ve been meditating on?

3. Pray the Bible

Many people do not realize the importance of this, but praying the Bible helps us to align our prayers to God’s will. Keep in mind that the prayer God answers it that prayer that is according to His will. This is precisely what Jesus meant when He said, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14). His name is not a secret formula, but praying in His name means according to what would glorify, please, and honor Him. The right step to take in order to pray like this, is to pray the Bible. Because God’s will is revealed in the Bible, when we read of something that God commands us to do, we should learn to pray that God would help us with that specific command. Sometimes we can pray for the wrong things can’t we? If we want to pray the right things, wouldn’t it make sense to pray the Bible? You can’t go wrong there. When you read the Bible, let that compel you to prayer, and then pray about what you’ve read.

4. Memorize the Bible

This one, like Scripture mediation, is implied by the Bible as a command. We read in Psalm 119:11, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The psalmist says there that his defense against sinning was that he stored God’s word in his heart. Scripture memory entails not only getting into the Bible, but allowing the Bible to get into us. It is allowing the word of Christ to dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16). Scripture memorization involves taking the time to memorize the Bible, whether it is a few verses or a few chapters. We can benefit from this by calling to mind a Scripture that is especially encouraging for a difficult time we are going through, or one that someone else is going through. We can encourage ourselves and others with those Scriptures that we have memorized. But the Spirit can’t call to your mind a Scripture you’ve never memorized or read. Do you take time to memorize the Bible? You can write it out on paper until you have it memorized, or you can repeat it back to yourself time after time, or you can simply read the Scriptures over and over again.² But we must make it a priority.

5. Study the Bible

Not only is it helpful to read, meditate, pray, and memorize the Bible, but we must study it. This is the most crucial of all five ways to use the Bible. If you read, meditate, pray, and even memorize the Bible without ever studying it, you’ve missed out. Studying the Bible involves observing it, interpreting it, and applying it to our daily lives. We might spend a while studying a verse of Scripture, a chapter, or a whole book of Scripture—studying involves doing much work to excavate the deep truths of Scripture. It is observing what the author of a text is saying, it is working to discover its meaning, and it is applying it to our contemporary situations. A good study Bible especially helps with this, as do many good commentaries, or other helpful tools like Bible dictionaries and handbooks.³ In studying the Bible, we focus on it—think it through both intellectually and emotionally. We discover what the particular author is saying about his subject, and what it means for us today. Do you study the Bible? How much time of your day is devoted to studying the Bible?

What other practical ways do you use the Bible?

1. The most helpful reading plans I’ve ever seen are found on this page: Bible Reading Plans for 2015
2. A crucial, yet practical and helpful book on memorizing Scripture is by Dr. Andrew Davis, titled An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture
3. I’ve used dozens of different study Bibles, but none have been as helpful and useful as The ESV Study Bible. Also the best Bible dictionary I’ve ever used is the Illustrated Bible Dictionary published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. For a general handbook on the Bible, see the bestseller Knowing Your Bible by Paul Kent.