Learning the Bible is like learning a language. The best way to learn both is by immersion. As our children learn to speak, read, and write, they pick up English by repetition, practice, and use. So, when we read God’s Word, some of the best ways to remember Scripture are through reading it regularly, praying it into our hearts, weaving it into family life, and hearing it preached. In other words, the more we incorporate Scripture into daily life and practice, the more we will remember and treasure its contents.
1. Reading the whole Bible regularly.
First, we should read the whole Bible regularly. The first things we need in learning a language are vocabulary, grammar, and content. Interestingly, Psalm 1 does not exhort believers to meditate on God’s law day and night; it assumes that we do so (Ps. 1:2). Yet many believers do not know how to meditate on Scripture. Where should they begin? The first obvious step is to read it.
It seems many Christians don’t read the entire Bible. Taking stock of how much we have read, do we find that we gravitate to favorite texts such as the Gospels or Romans 8? Yet we should treasure every part of God’s Word, if for no other reason than it is God’s Word. Psalm 119 expressed whole-souled love for the law of the Lord because the psalmist aimed at whole-hearted love for the Lord of the law. We need the full range of Scripture to gain a full picture of what God is like and who He is. The best way to do this is to have a plan.
While many reading plans exist, reading three to four chapters a day will get you through the whole Bible in roughly a year. The more frequently we read through every part of Scripture, the more the parts explain each other, as we begin to pick up biblical vocabulary, grammar, and thought patterns. If we do not set apart time for daily private worship, plowing steadily through God’s Book, then how will we, like Apollos, become “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24, KJV)?
2. Praying through our Bible reading.
Reading Scripture should not merely be an expression of private “devotion.” It is an act of worship through which we seek God, which we express primarily through prayer. We should not only pray that God would open our eyes to behold wondrous things from His law (Ps. 119:18), but we should also incorporate scriptural expressions into our prayers. Asking, “What does this text show me about God?” can make both easy and harder passages fruitful.
For example, Psalm 90:1–2 says that God is our dwelling place in all generations, and that “from everlasting to everlasting” He is God. Can we not pray, “Lord, I thank you that my children and I dwell with You and You with us, and that because You are everlasting, You can keep Your promises to our family forever”? Seeking God’s glory through prayer can likewise draw us to God in worship, even through nine chapters of genealogy in 1 Chronicles, since we will see God’s covenant faithfulness to His people instead of merely a list of names.
3. Weaving Scripture into our family routines.
We know that loving the Lord involves speaking His Word to our children when we sit, when we rise, and when we walk (Deut. 6:6–7). The most obvious way to do this is to extend our private worship into family worship, reading, praying, and singing through Scripture together. Keeping family worship short and simple makes these times both profitable and better than not doing it at all.
Reading and praying through the Bible on our own, and in our households, leads naturally to conversing about the Bible throughout the day. As couples immerse themselves in God’s Word, incorporating children if they have them, they build devotional habits that help them know and remember Scripture, which spills naturally into everyday speech. The more Scripture we put into the heart, the more the mouth will speak as an overflow of the heart.
4. Hearing biblical preaching often.
In faithful preaching on the Bible, we hear Christ’s voice (Rom. 10:14–17; Eph. 2:17). The Spirit’s power accompanies preachers who proclaim God’s testimony to His Son (1 Cor. 2:1–5). While listening to Bible lectures and sermons online is good, meeting with Christ and His people in public worship is far better. Thankfully, the Lord has given us a weekly Sabbath to redirect our hearts toward heaven, where the risen and ascended Christ is. Private and family worship help immerse us in Scripture throughout life. Yet public worship is the capstone of this process, in which the Spirit particularly drives the Word home, enabling us to practice God’s Word and to remember it by practicing it.
As Augustine counseled in his book On Christian Doctrine, the best way to read the Bible is to seek and enjoy God through it. The words on the page are “signs” pointing to the Lord, but the triune God is the “thing” that we really want when we read and hear God’s Word. Learning Scripture is a whole-souled engagement. Do we pray for the Spirit to glorify the Son as we study His Word? Do we aim to glorify God in body and soul as His beloved children? Do we seek to remember the Bible by using means to take it all in and through praying it into practice?