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Bible Study, Discipleship

Cultivating a Desire to Read the Word

A Note from Mary Margaret West: We carry a weighty responsibility to not only help girls love God’s Word, but to first and foremost love it ourselves. Megan has some helpful encouragement for you today in the post.

We tell those we disciple that they need to be reading the Bible. But all of us naturally give our time and attention to that which we love and care about. So we must be intentional about cultivating a desire to engage with God’s Word. It is necessary for our growth and sanctification, and for learning to walk with God. Our hearts and minds are constantly needing to be reoriented to truth. Encouraging teens to love God’s Word will lay a foundation for a lifetime of walking with their Creator. The place to begin is to teach a God-focused view of Scripture, and communicate a right motivation.

Our relationship to the Word is rooted in our identity and purpose as image bearers. We were created to relate to and represent our Creator. Scripture is a gracious gift to us — it is how God has revealed Himself, and He invites us to know Him in dependent relationship (1 John 5:20; Luke 24:27; Hebrews 1:1-4). Engaging with the Bible is also the avenue through which God changes us to better reflect His image (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Timothy 3:16).

Approaching the Bible may be intimidating, especially for a young believer. Being rooted in the grand narrative of Scripture gives us a framework for understanding God’s Word, which can in turn increase our desire to read it. We can see our story in the context of God’s story of redemption, and it comes to life in new ways. The girls you’re discipling need you to give them tools to understand and study Scripture, and to take the time to show them how.

Another important piece of cultivating a desire to read the Word is to assess motivation. If teens see Bible reading as a duty to be accomplished and checked off, or as a way to gain the approval of others, it can become something that is done begrudgingly or not at all. They need to see you model a life that treasures God’s Word and treats the rhythm of engaging with Scripture as delight, rather than duty. It is a gift, a means of grace by which we grow to know God and be transformed by Him. Love for the Word is based on our love for God, which is a response to His love for us.

On the other hand, if teens view the Bible as merely a guidebook, and their only motivation is to get a nugget of wisdom or encouragement for the day, they will stop turning to the Word when things are going well. And if they grow dissatisfied with what it says, or if they feel like it’s not speaking to their needs, they may start turning elsewhere. But if Scripture is primarily about God, not us, and the purpose of engaging with it is to know Him and be changed by Him, we can persevere even when it’s hard to understand or doesn’t give us the warm feelings we want. We must come to the Word in humble dependence, with a heart that longs to listen and respond in obedience.

As you communicate to those you disciple the importance of reading and engaging with God’s Word, I encourage you to lead them deeper to unpack how they’re viewing Scripture and what challenges they are experiencing in starting to cultivate a desire to engage with it. I can’t emphasize enough how impactful it can be for you to model this desire yourself by making God’s Word a priority, walking in dependence on Him, and delighting yourself in knowing God and responding to Him. The desire to study and interact with Scripture is an appetite that has to be developed by choosing to daily feast on it. God has said that His Word is how we know Him in relationship, and knowing Him is life. So as we choose to turn to the Word and engage with it, we also pray for God to grow our desire and delight; we need His help for our appetite to be changed.

Megan Burns is a biblical counselor in Virginia with experience counseling students and parents in the local church. She is married to Brian and enjoys writing about counseling, discipleship and missions on her blog, Remade Whole.

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