Understanding God's Word
Do you feel like you struggle to understand God’s word? Does the language seem clumsy and leave you feeling more muddled than inspired? Please hear this, you are not alone, especially if you’re new to faith in Christ or new to reading the Word. I used to struggle terribly whenever I tried to read it and I think there were two main reasons for that.
One, I was trying to read too much at once. Now, don’t get me wrong here, there is tremendous benefit to reading large portions of the Bible, and I would be the first to warn against reading in the “cherry-picking” fashion (taking verses out of context and trying to fit them to your current situation or mindset). But, sometimes I think we set such lofty goals that we hurt rather than help ourselves by them. We often quit before we’ve received any benefits because we tried to do too much.
The second reason is this, it takes practice. The bible is unlike any other book, it’s the living word of our holy God. It’s not like a summer beach read that you can just grab when you’re bored. I’m not trying to discourage you, I want you to feel relieved if this isn’t coming naturally right now. What I’m saying is, stick with it, it’s worth the effort. Reading the word is like learning a foreign language, it takes effort to make your mind think in Spanish rather than English, likewise it takes effort to think like Christ rather than like the world. But like learning a foreign language carries unseen benefits, so does learning the language of God. The better you know Spanish the more in-depth you can converse with someone from a Spanish speaking country, and the more you know the language of the word, the more in depth your conversations with God.
And here’s the best part, God LOVES to answer our prayers to understand His word! What happened to the disciples on the Emmaus road was not just for them. Because of the Holy Spirit we can have the same understanding that causes our hearts to burn within us as we read the word. I love what James 1:5 says and I often pray this verse back to God to help me better understand his word; “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” Our God is generous and will not rebuke you for asking to understand him and his word! What a beautiful promise!
So be encouraged, keep practicing, and see how your understanding grows. One final thought; “We should never forget that the purpose of theology is doxology; we study in order to praise” (ESV study notes on 1 Chronicles 29:11). Always let your study lead you to praise your loving heavenly Father, who reveals to you all things for that one purpose.