Disclaimer: I really dislike any claim to bring something “fresh” to the christian life. So much so that just hearing the word in christian context causes me to cringe a bit. I have my reasons! Anyways, today I want to quickly explain the what I call the RARE method. This name for this methodology came to me while I was showering, and I love it (I also love showers). I think if done properly it’s one way of bible reading that will breathe fresh (eeek) life into your time with God.
RARE = Read, Ask, Reflect, Expand.
- Do so intentionally. Give a careful eye to each word you’re reading (or hearing, for my audio bible folk). The easiest way to gain weight and die from obesity is to mindlessly eat junk food from the bag while watching TV. So don’t do the equivalent when you read scripture! What I mean is to kind of auto-pilot your way through 2-3 chapters is a quick way to gain spiritual fat (I recognize my analogy is breaking down). It’s much better to read 5 verses a day that you read correctly than to read 500 incorrectly. Think of each verse as being sufficient for your day in of itself, and enjoy it for what it is.
- Ask the text questions. Ask the author questions. “Why did the author use THAT word?” or “Why did god do/not do things that way?” or “How does this paragraph fit into the chapter/book/new testament/entire biblical story?”. Doing this kind of inquiry properly, will almost undoubtedly open your eyes to greater understanding. There are no right questions to ask, by the way. Just follow your heart (did I just say follow your heart?).
- This is very similar to step 2, except the focus is a bit different. Instead of investigating the text for what it is trying to say objectively, here you want to think through how the text personally, subjectively, speaks to you. For example, you might ask “Why did God do things that way?” in step 2, and here you take time to reflect on the answer in relation to your own life. “Ok so it seems God did things this way because of _____ and I think that really speaks to why I experience God the way I do now. And that means maybe I should stop doing _____ ” I highly recommend you spend a good amount of time here, praying to God to show you what you need. If it helps you, think of Reflect as the application step. It”s just that RAAE doesn’t sound as cool as RARE!
- Taking the fruit of your first three investigative endeavors, turn your eyes upward and ask God how you might now use these revelations to help your friends, family, coworkers and everyone else. In other words, take time to think how the implications of the text expand beyond your own life and apply to the church, or social structures, or your civil duties. Anything that comes to mind, really. For me personally, this step is usually where I think “Ok, so how does this text speak to what I know people in life group are thinking/feeling?” and “How can I help HNTC (my church) with what I see of God here”. That’s almost exclusively where I go in this step because besides my wife, Life Group and Church are my two highest concerns.
That’s it, in short. I hope this at least does something for you all. Feel free to use this as a starting point, and as with anything when it comes to bible reading – DON’T OVER COMPLICATE IT. This method is useless if it’s so complicated or daunting to you that you don’t use it. These 4 steps should at some point blend seamlessly into your reading, where you do it without putting intentional thought into it.