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Sunday, December 10, 2006

In the Word

People are always trying to come up with some method of reading their Bibles in meaningful ways. Often they go to Bible study books with nice fill-in-the-blank type questions and such or they'll find their favorite teacher's latest and greatest study on Ruth or Ecclesiastes or whatever. While I'm sure this is all well and good, I think it is a good idea to study for ourselves. So I am going to recommend the technique I was taught years ago. It has served me well, and for those to whom I have passed it on, it has served them well, too.

The method can be remembered using the acrostic, 2PROAPT:
P - Pray.
P - Preview.
R - Read.
O - Observe.
A - Apply.
P - Pray.
T - Tell.

It's not a difficult approach, but it encompasses all the major aspects. So, let me explain it a little.

Open with prayer. What you're looking for is God's presence as you read.

Preview the passage you will be reading. Scan it. Look it over quickly, maybe even as a larger view of a smaller section you intend to cover.

Read the passage. Maybe it's a paragraph, maybe a chapter, maybe a book. Just read it.

Having scanned it and then read it, make some notes. What do you see in the passage? "Just the facts, ma'am." What are the who, what, when, where, why, and hows of what you just read? What strikes your attention?

Now you've made observations ... hopefully things that God has impressed on you. The next step is to apply it. You're looking for specifics. Something measurable, verifiable. "Today I will _____." "For the next week I will ____." What does the passage ask you to do? Maybe it's an action. Maybe it's a thought process. Maybe it's a change of attitude. But God is speaking to you. What is He telling you?

Having noted what you believe God is telling you specifically, pray again. Make the observations and application a matter of prayer.

This final step is difficult for some, but you won't believe the value. Tell someone. Maybe you can tell a spouse. Maybe you have a "prayer partner" or an "accountability partner" you can tell. Maybe you have a pastor or friend. Maybe it's not always the same person. Just tell someone. "This is what I learned, and this is what God asked of me today." This will help motivate you and include others in what you're learning.

Packaged studies are fine, but when the Word becomes God's speaking to you, something you treat with reverence and with respect, something intended for you, perhaps the packaged studies and applications won't be what God has in mind for you. Try it. You'll like it.

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