A friend and I were recently talking about the churches in our area. I am a member of Aldesrgate but I also attend another church on Sunday evenings for “college class” because that church is particularly geared towards students. This friend had attended some bible studies at the “college-y church” but ultimately decided that she wasn’t smart enough to go there!
Why? It seemed as if it was a constant contest in biblical knowledge, with everyone outdoing each other with how much they knew, could cross reference, recite, draw on outside information, etc.. I don’t blame those students at all for turning it into that. I am very guilty of the same thing because that’s what I’m good at! I’ve been a student for most of my 25 years and, if there’s any gift from God that I’ve developed the most, it’s the gift of research.
I have more biblical reference books than I know what to do with and as I’m sitting in my apartment reading (or listening to) my bible, I frequently realize I don’t understand the context or decide to dig deeper. PAUSE and research. I google, I flip through reference books, analyze different translations, historical context, other people’s writing on the subject. And it’s great! It’s incredibly fascinating!
Is there such thing as too much analysis? Am I too much of a student researcher? Should I feel bad for approaching the Bible the same way I might a test for school?
I am guilty of becoming a serial Bible researcher. Through prayer, I have come up with a solution. The prayer corner of my apartment is a Bible ONLY zone. No bible studies, reference books, computer, cell phone, research tool of any kind.
In the prayer corner, I find a book of the Bible I feel led to, and read the whole thing OUT LOUD to my empty apartment (but really to heaven). These have been some of the best worship sessions I’ve ever experienced (alone and with no music, go figure!) When I don’t understand what’s happening, I read it anyways and view that part as just purely worship to God.
When I felt led to Isaiah, it took four hours and I didn’t understand what was going on for something like half of it. I have never felt such a calm, a peace and satisfaction that I struggle to verbalize. I got clarity on issues I’d been struggling with for a while and new things were placed on my heart that I hadn’t considered.
I encourage everyone to try this out. I’m not sure how it’ll work for you. I think that, like our journeys with God are all different, we also have unique private worship styles. If you are wondering how long this will take you, here is a great visual with reading times for every book that I found on Desiring God. Happy worshipping!