Catholic Q&A

I can gain an understanding by participating in church lectures, listening to commentaries, and so on, but when I read the Bible by myself I am not able to understand it, and besides, I find it hard to sustain my interest in it. Could you please teach me how to read the Bible?

As long as time and situation permit, I think it commendable to attend Bible lectures and join study groups, and also to read and learn from manuals. The study should be done slowly and gradually, with a mindset of patience and an intention of lifelong learning.

However, when studying the Bible, there is something more vital than merely learning how to interpret each section, and that is to learn the process of reading and understanding the Bible. If you learn how to read the Bible properly you will be able to read it on your own, and you will also gain therein the guidelines for living, as well as spiritual nourishment.

Let me now tell you how I do it myself. I first try to grasp what the author wishes to say and what he is trying to convey, in view of the circumstances of those times. I then try to reflect over and see what significance his statements have for us today, and what sort of message he is seeking to convey to us, given the specific situation in which I am.

This study should not be done by viewing the Bible purely as an object of academic interest. It is advisable to pray over the Bible, and read it while praying. Our daily lives tend to be busy, harried, and lacking in comfort. Yet if we desire to make this a truly significant life we need to set apart just a brief period of time for God, such as when we awake in the morning or before we go to bed at night. So why not set apart a fixed time to reflect quietly in the presence of God? And when reading the Bible, we need to read just one or two verses slowly. How about taking this as a call coming from God to ourselves? I personally tend to regard this as the most profound manner of understanding the Bible.

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