Step Four for Easier Bible Reading: Read the Bible Like a Child
By Stephanie Hillberry
When I was a kid, the Bible was a collection of wondrous, miraculous bedtime stories about God and his famous people who lived long ago.
But as I grew older, I walked away from bedtime stories and started "getting serious" about reading the Bible. Gone were illustrations and stories, to be replaced by study notes and highlighters. My knowledge and wisdom grew in this process, which was heartening. But the more studious I got, the more my childlike wonder faded.
Reader, I need some of that wonder back. And so do you.
Jesus praised childlikeness. He encouraged us to come to God like a child. This doesn’t mean we throw aside the knowledge and maturity we’ve gained as adults, but rather we pair our knowledge with the trusting, open, believing heart of a child.
When we lose this childlike heart in our Bible reading, a few things happen: we get bored with Scripture; we find excuses for why amazing things occurred back then but don’t happen now; and we maintain low expectations for the miraculous to appear in our lives.
In contrast, when we cultivate an open, childlike heart when reading the Bible, we find ourselves gradually setting aside cynicism and skepticism as we let go of our need to rationalize everything. Our expectation of divine encounters increases, and we begin to see the miraculous frequently in our midst! Sounds better, right?
Here are two ideas for rediscovering your childlike wonder when reading the Bible:
1. Keep a miracle journal
Stop glossing over the big and small miracles you read in the Bible, and instead linger on them by creating a “miracle” journal.
- Write down each new wondrous thing you encounter in Scripture. Examples could include the Israelites finding manna each morning, or Elijah praying for rain and getting it, or Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
- Close your eyes and imagine being present when the miracle happened. What would it have felt like to be there?
- Then imagine that same miracle happening today in your everyday life. What would that be like? How would people react?
- With each new entry, pray to the Holy Spirit to open your heart to more wonder, and to open your eyes to the miracles he’s doing around you each day. Once you start noticing these miracles, include them in your journal as well.
2. Spend a season replacing your study Bible with a story Bible
Story Bibles are narrative interpretations of the Bible usually written for children. Frequently illustrated, these books stoke the fires of imagination as they play up wonder and downplay complicated theology and complex history.
As adults, we tend to believe that story Bibles are just for kids because they err on the simple side. But story Bibles, especially the Friends With God Story Bible, are actually a great way for grown-ups to read the Bible with fresh, childlike wonder.
Try it! Let go and allow your creativity to roam as you read the stories, enjoying their refreshing simplicity. Even better—read the stories with a child, and let their reactions remind you what it’s like to have an open heart that believes anything is possible.
And then start believing in the impossible yourself.
Learn more about the difference between being childlike and childish with this podcast episode.
Learn about what makes the Friends With God Story Bible unique.