Reading the Bible: Part 2 – Reading to Learn and Understand

Although I hadn’t planned the last post on Bible reading plans to be part of a series, I woke up with an idea for a follow-on post. I believe those ideas that come during sleep are from the Holy Spirit so here’s the post.

The collect (collective prayer) for the Second Sunday in Advent (which is this coming Sunday) from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is one of my favorites:

BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The first step in developing a regular habit of Bible reading is to choose a plan. I pointed out a number of different plans in the previous post. If you’re new to Bible reading, you may want to start with a plan to read a verse or a short passage each day or to follow a reading plan for a short period of time. You can grow into longer readings or a more ambitious plan. In addition to the plans mentioned in the last post, you can find a Bible reading plan and extensive free Bible study resources at, which I learned about through a comment on the last post. YouVersion, a fairly new site that I also learned about through a comment, offers community and collaboration features for Bible study.

The second step is to “hear …, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.” Just going through the motions of reading the words isn’t enough. The prayer above describes what we need to do:

  1. Hear: Sometimes we absorb the words better if we hear them audibly than if we just read them in print. You can hear the Word read in audio Bibles online.
  2. Read: As helpful as it can be to hear the Word, you have to make the effort to read for yourself as well. Early Christians didn’t have Bibles to read, and even today Christians in many parts of the world don’t own Bibles. We often take the Bible for granted and don’t realize what a blessing it is to be able to own the Bible and to read it ourselves rather than depending on someone else to tell us what it says.
  3. Mark: When we’re trying to understand and learn anything, highlighting text and making notes helps us to understand what we’re reading and to remember important points. You can make notes and highlights if you register as a user at as well as in your print Bible.
  4. Learn: Use the Bible study tools I’ve listed to gain insights, learn, and understand. The JesusWalk Bible Study Series includes several questions in each lesson to lead students to a deeper understanding of the Scripture. I find it helpful to write the questions and answers in a journal. Even if you’re reading on your own, you can keep a journal to write how the passage affected you and what it means to you. Memorizing verses is also a good way to learn.
  5. Inwardly digest: I love this phrase. When we digest our food, it nourishes our body to keep us physically healthy. When we digest God’s Word, it nourishes our soul to keep us spiritually healthy. I want God’s Word to be a part of me.

I hope these suggestions inspire you to study the Bible to make God’s Word part of you.

Share this!