The Bible is to our spirit what food is to our body! If we don’t regularly take God’s Word into our minds, hearts, and spirits we WILL starve spiritually. There are far too many malnourished Christians who rarely, if ever, read God’s Word…other than Sunday morning at church. It’s no wonder our spiritual lives lack power & consistency.
Being a disciple of Jesus is about being conformed to His image. So it seems obvious, that in order to walk like Jesus we must engage deeply & consistently with God’s Word. The more we study and apply the Bible, the more we get to know God personally. The more we get to know God personally, the more we love God. The more we love God, the more we desire to obey Him.
Hebrews 4:12 describes God’s Word as “living and active” but far too many people experience it as “old and confusing”. They’ve tried reading the but seem to get nothing out of it.
But the reality is that daily time with God in His Word is absolutely necessary for our spiritual growth. It must be a priority in our lives if we’re going to follow Jesus. The problem is that you’ll quickly stop reading your Bible if you’re not intentional about listening to God and looking for ways to apply His word to your life. Far too many Christians haven’t been taught how to hear from God.
With so many different Bible study methods out there, it can get quite confusing. So, I want to share with you the method I use. Not that you have to adopt it, but it has helped me grow closer to God and apply His Word in my life over the years.
Thanks to Robby Gallaty and Replicate Ministries for making this method easy to remember using the acronym H.E.A.R. – which stands for Highlight, Explain, Apply, and Respond.
Let me give you a word of caution before you go and randomly open your Bible and start reading. Reading random Scriptures will not provide solid biblical growth any more than eating random foods out of your pantry will provide solid physical growth. You need an effective reading plan. Based on my experience, a lot of reading plans require too much reading. It’s really hard to reflect on and apply 4-5 chapters per day. When I’ve tried to follow those type of plans, it has reduced my Bible reading to a system of box-checking instead of a time to hear from God. In order to digest more of the Word, I actually prefer to read less. That’s why I recommend 1-2 chapters/day; 5 days/week.
Here’s how to adopt the H.E.A.R. Method into your daily time with God:
- As you read your chapter…one or two verses will usually stand out and speak to you.
- After reading the passage of Scripture, highlight each verse that speaks to you.
- Remember you’re reading for the purpose of life change, not just to gain more Biblical knowledge.
- After reading your chapter, you want to explain what the text means.
- This means looking at the passage based on the context in which it was written.
- By asking some simple questions, with the help of God’s Spirit, you can understand the meaning of a passage or verse.
- Here are some questions to get started:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- How does it fit with the verses before and after it?
- Why did the Holy Spirit include this passage in the book?
- What is He intending to communicate through this text?
- Write or journal a short summary of what you think text means.
- Application is the heart of the process.
- The whole reason we are reading the Bible is to be “doers” of the Word.
- It’s not enough just to master the text…God wants us to be mastered by the text.
- In order to determine how to apply the Scripture, think through questions like…
- How can this help me?
- What does this mean today?
- What would the application of this verse look like in my life?
- What does this mean to me?
- What is God saying to me?
- These questions will help you uncover the significance of the verses for you personally.
- These questions bridge the gap between the ancient world and your world today.
- They provide a way for God to speak to you from the specific passage or verse.
- Then challenge yourself to write or think through 2 to 3 ways the text applies to your life.
- Your response to the passage may take on many forms…
- You may write a call to action.
- You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through His Word.
- You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you have learned.
- You may respond by writing out a prayer to God.
- Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.
Finally I want you to notice that these are all action words: Highlight, Explain, Apply, and Respond. God does not want us to sit back and wait for Him to drop some truth into our laps. Instead of waiting passively, God desires that we pursue Him actively. Remember God’s word is “living & active” & He desires to speak to you through His Word!