In the preface to his Explanatory Notes upon the Old Testament, John Wesley laid out his principles for how to read scripture in such a way that you come “to understand the things of God” and to love him wholly and truly. His principles are well worth reflecting on today.
If you desire to read the scripture in such a manner as may most effectually answer this end, would it not be advisable,
1. To set apart a little time, if you can, every morning and evening for that purpose?
2. At each time if you have leisure, to read a chapter out of the Old, and one out of the New Testament: if you cannot do this, to take a single chapter, or a part of one?
3. To read this with a single eye, to know the whole will of God, and a fixt resolution to do it? In order to know his will, you should,
4. Have a constant eye to the analogy of faith; the connexion and harmony there is between those grand, fundamental doctrines, Original Sin, Justification by Faith, the New Birth, Inward and Outward Holiness.
5. Serious and earnest prayer should be constantly used, before we consult the oracles of God, seeing “scripture can only be understood thro’ the same Spirit whereby it was given.” Our reading should likewise be closed with prayer, that what we read may be written on our hearts.
6. It might also be of use, if while we read, we were frequently to pause, and examine ourselves by what we read, both with regard to our hearts, and lives. This would furnish us with matter of praise, where we found God had enabled us to conform to his blessed will, and matter of humiliation and prayer, where we were conscious of having fallen short
And whatever light you then receive, should be used to the uttermost, and that immediately. Let there be no delay. Whatever you resolve, begin to execute the first moment you can. So shall you find this word to be indeed the power of God unto present and eternal salvation.