Reading and Studying—At Family Prayers—A Word, in Season—Helpful Questions.
MERELY reading the Bible is not what God wants. There is not a verse in Scripture where I am told to " read " the Bible, but again and again I am exhorted to " search."
"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
"So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading."
We must study it thoroughly, and hunt it through, as it were, for some great truth. If a friend were to see me searching about a building, and were to come up and say, "Moody, what are you looking for? have you lost something?" and I answered, "No, I haven't lost anything; I'm not looking for anything particular," I fancy he would just let me go on by myself, and think me very foolish. But if I were to say, "Yes, I have lost a dollar," why, then, I might expect him to help me to find it. Read the Bible, my friends, as if you were seeking for something of value. It is a good deal better to take a single chapter, and spend a month on it, than to read the Bible at random for a month.
I used at one time to read so many chapters a day, and if I did not get through my usual quantity I thought I was getting cold and backsliding. But, mind you, if a man had asked me two hours afterward what I had read, I could not tell him; I had forgotten it nearly all. When I was a boy I used, among other things, to 'hoe corn on a farm; and I used to hoe it so badly, in order to get over so much ground, that at night I had to put down a stick in the ground, so as to know next morning where I had left off. That was somewhat in the same fashion as running through so many chapters every day. A man will say, "Wife, did I read that chapter?" "Well," says she, " I don't remember." And neither of them can recollect. And perhaps he reads the same chapter over and over again; and they call that "studying the Bible." I do not think there is a book in the world we neglect so much as the Bible.
Now, when you read the Bible at family worship or for private devotions, look for suitable passages. What would you think of a minister who went into the.pulpit on Sunday and opened the Bible at hazard and commenced to read? Yet this is what most men do at family prayers. They might as well go into a drug store and swallow the first medicine their eye happens to see Children would take more interest in family prayers if the father would take time to search for some passage to suit the special need. For instance, if any member of the family is about to travel, read Psalm 121. In time of trouble, read Psalm 91. When the terrible accident happened to the "Spree " as we were crossing the Atlantic in November, 1892, and when none on board ship expected to live to see the light of another sun, we held a prayermeeting, at which I read a portion of Psalm 107:
"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
"These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
"For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
"They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths : their soul is melted because of trouble.
"They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.
"Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
"He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
"Then they are glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
"Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"
A lady came to me afterwards and said I made it up to suit the occasion.
I have seen questions that will help one to get good out of every verse and passage of Scripture. They may be used in family worship, or in studying the Sabbath School lesson, or for prayer meeting, or in private reading. It would be a good thing if questions like these were pasted in the front of every Bible:
1. What persons have I read about, and what have I learned about them?
2. What places have I read about, and what have I read about them? If the place is not mentioned,
50 Helpful Questions.
can I find out where it is? Do I know its position on the map?
3. Does the passage refer to any particular time in the history of the children of Israel, or of some leading character?
4. Can I tell from memory what I have just been reading?
5. Are there any parallel passages or texts that throw light on this passage?
6. Have I read anything about God the Father? or about Jesus Christ? or about the Holy Spirit?
7. What have I read about myself? about man's sinful nature? about the spiritual new nature?
8. Is there any duty for me to observe? any example to follow? any promise to lay hold of? any exhortation for my guidance? any prayer that I may echo?
9. How is this Scripture profitable for doctrine? for reproof? for correction? for instruction in righteousness?
10. Does it contain the gospel in type or in evidence?
11. What is the key verse of the chapter or passage? Can I repeat it from memory?