2. Find a place.
Find a quiet place to read where you will not be interrupted or distracted. Turn off your cell phone and disconnect from the internet.
3. Decide what to read.
You may want to plan what to read over a period of time, such as working your way through a book of the Bible or a devotional book, but be flexible. Variety is important for holding your interest too.
4. Pray before you read.
Ask Jesus to help you concentrate and have an open heart so you can get as much as possible from this time. “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law."1
5. Read the Word carefully, prayerfully, and thoughtfully.
If you were to gulp down a meal as fast as you could, you wouldn’t get as much out of that food or enjoy it as much as you would by eating more slowly. The same principle applies to your spiritual food. To be nourished spiritually, you must take time to absorb what you read.
6. Apply what you read.
When you’re reading, often a certain point will stand out. You may have read the same passage before, but suddenly it comes to life and you understand how the spiritual principles apply to you personally.
7. Put what you read into action.
The way to really experience the power of the Word of God is by doing what it says. “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”2 And Jesus Himself promised, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”3
8. Keep a “spiritual diary.”
Copy key points or passages from what you read into a special notebook for future reference. Putting your thoughts about what you read into words serves two purposes: It crystallizes the lessons and reinforces them in your mind so you will be more likely to remember them when opportunities to apply them arise. It also serves as a useful review. You might also want to use this diary to record spiritual lessons and milestones in your relationships with Jesus and others that aren’t necessarily connected to your times of spiritual feeding.
Whatever we take in, consciously or unconsciously, by choice or by chance, has an effect for better or worse on our thinking and thus on our actions. But we can choose what input we want to influence and motivate us the most. If you want that to be God’s Word, commit to memory key Bible verses or points you come across in your times of spiritual feeding. “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”4 Scriptures you’ve memorized will be a source of comfort and strength in times of trouble or decision, as well as provide help and answers to share with others in need.
10. Don’t be overly concerned if you don’t understand something.
Augustine of Hippo (354–430) was once greatly perplexed about a particular aspect of faith. While walking by the seashore, he saw a little boy with a seashell repeatedly running to the water’s edge, filling the shell with water, and pouring it into a hole in the sand. To Augustine’s surprise, the boy explained matter-of-factly that he was putting the ocean in the hole. Augustine realized that was like what he himself had been trying to do. “Standing on the shores of time,” he would later write, “I was trying to get into this finite mind of mine things which are infinite.”
11. Don’t worry about all the details of Bible history and geography.
History and geography can be interesting, but spiritual principles are of far greater value. For example, when we read the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, we see a pattern of love in action that we know we should try to follow; when we read the Psalms and other devotional passages, we find thoughts and principles that we can apply to our own prayers.
12. Spice it up.
The four Gospels, Psalms, and Proverbs are the most read (and reread) devotional books of all time, but don’t stop there. Variety is the spice of life—and a key to making your times of spiritual feeding a daily high point.
(This article was adapted from 12 Foundation Stones, a free online course for getting to know and live God’s Word.)