Reading Your Bible With Purpose

Open BibleGod has Something to Say to You

Whether you are reading Scripture in a printed version or you are reading Scripture via an online app, the Bible you hold in your hands is truly an incredible miracle. You see, the Bible you are holding is the direct revelation of God our Creator to you and I, his creation. God has something to say to us, and he wants us to be sure we know it. So God moved upon a number of men in a supernatural way so that they would record a single harmonious message, a testimony to the character of God and His redemptive plan for us through Jesus Christ. This message would be stitched together over thousands of years and through sixty-six unique books. And though there were certain historical cultural shifts during this period, God never shifted from the purpose of His Word. He wanted to reveal himself to us.

God has divinely superintended the transmission of His Word through the ages, and He has gifted men to translate His Word from the original Hebrew and Greek into our language so that we can understand. I recommend reading a literal translation like the King James Version, New King James Version, English Standard Version, or the New American Standard Bible. But whichever of these you read, rejoice knowing that it is the “prophetic word made more sure” (2 Peter 1:19). Know that what you read is the very “breath of God” (2 Timothy 3:16), and that it is without error, infallible, and authoritative over all of your life.

God has something to say to you, and you can know it by reading the Bible, His Word to you.

Read with Purpose

So after you select a reading plan (see the resource posted above), begin reading. But don’t read for the sake of reading, read with purpose: to hear from God in order to fill your heart and mind with Truth.

In a blog post from Replicate Ministries, Robby Gallaty and team promoted the H.E.A.R. method as a way to help us read the Bible with purpose. This method is detailed below, and I recommend it to you.

How Do I Log a H.E.A.R. Journal Entry?

The acronym H.E.A.R. stands for Highlight, Explain, Apply, and Respond.

Each of these four steps contributes to creating an atmosphere to hear God speak. After settling on a reading plan and establishing a time for studying God’s Word, you will be ready to H.E.A.R. from God. [However,] before reading the text, pause to sincerely ask God to speak to you. It is absolutely imperative that we seek God’s guidance in order to understand His Word (1 Corinthians 2:12-14).

After praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, open your notebook or journal, and at the top left-hand corner, write the letter “H” for HIGHLIGHT. This exercise will remind you to read with a purpose. [Read the passage slowly so that you give time for the Holy Spirit to enlighten your sense of what God is communicating.] In the course of your reading, one or two verses will usually stand out. After reading the passage of Scripture, Highlight each verse that speaks to you by copying it under the letter “H”. Write out the following:

  • The name of the book
  • The passage of Scripture
  • The chapter and verse numbers that especially speak to you
  • A title to describe the passage

This practice will make it easier to find the passage when you want to revisit it in the future.

After you have highlighted the passage, write the letter “E” under the previous entry. At this stage you will EXPLAIN what the text means. By asking some simple questions, with the help of God’s Spirit, you can understand the meaning of a passage or verse. Here are a few questions to get you 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?

At this point, you are beginning the process of discovering the specific and personal word that God has for you from His Word. What is important is that you are engaging the text and wrestling with its meaning. [Remember this truth, there is one interpretation and multiple applications. We don’t ask, “What does this verse mean to me?” Rather we ask, “What does God mean by this verse, and how does it apply to me?” Now we move to the next step.]

Under the “A”, write the word APPLY. This application is the heart of the process. Everything you have done so far culminates under this heading. As you have done before, answer a series of questions to uncover the significance of these verses to you personally, questions like:

  • How can this help me?
  • What would the application of this verse look like in my life?
  • What does this mean for me?
  • What is God saying to me [i.e. what do I need to change, surrender, or keep doing for his glory]?

These questions bridge the gap between the ancient world and your world today.

Finally, below the first three entries, write the letter “R” for RESPOND. [This step is essential. It makes all of your time and effort worthwhile. Hearing God without actually heeding what He says, or following through the application to your life, is vanity. Without actually responding to God’s Word, you would be simply honoring him with your lips but keeping your heart far from him (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8). So, be sure to respond to what God is saying to you.] 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. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving.

Take Action

Notice that all of the words in the H.E.A.R. formula are 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 actively pursue Him. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). [God has something to say to you, so pursue Him through His Word. Read with purpose: to hear from God in order to fill your heart and mind with Truth.]