My favorite way to meditate/study the Bible is simple.
Read and reflect several times on the particular book of the Bible.
Take out a legal pad.
Grab a cool pen.
Bombard the text with questions, connections, musings, etc.
Put my most significant thoughts in my two study Bibles. One for each one of my sons when I kick the proverbial bucket.
Meditate throughout the day on at least one overall lesson. Possibly meditate and then commit to memory a verse or two.
Here is a wonderful engagement with real books!
The Roman Catholic church kept various lists until the 1960s (known in short as the Index) of books their faithful should not read. Below is a good overview. Note well that the works of the Marquis de Sade were taken off while those of Calvin and Pascal stayed on!
When people ask Pastor Tim Keller why he reads so much, he simply says, “I’m desperate.” Keller is desperate for insight to help himself and others. I resonate deeply with this sentiment. In fact, it seems very odd to me that any Christian, especially pastors and those in full-time vocational ministry, would be needing to explain/justify the need to read. I should also say that I am constantly stunned by how many pastors and those in full-time vocational, Christian ministry do not read or read books not worthy of their time.
I was recently asked by a friend about my own reading habits. Here is what I told him:
I usually have a book with me wherever I go. I have them for appointments so don’t mind at all when someone is late! If I have a package to take to the post office, a book will be with me. And the DMV or waiting for a haircut are great times to read. You get the picture. There are lots of places/times to redeem the time.
On top of these haphazard things, I read intentionally 50-60 important books per year and peruse hundreds. The 50-60 include lots of highlighting, marginalia, and then sifting out what is most beneficial for teaching, discipleship, and writing projects. I also read several dozen journal or magazine articles.
As I get older, I am rereading the most formative books in my own personal canon. So The Great Divorce was recently reread. Interestingly, C.S. Lewis famously said legitimate readers are re-readers of important books. I think that is true.
Of course, I am always reading Scripture which this year means 2-4 chapters of meditative reads with note taking and highlighting. Scripture memory and review are daily disciplines which go back over forty years ago to my early college days. Then ten verses of my Greek NT along with some vocabulary review and basic grammar.
People regularly mention that I have a good memory. I think that is true to some extent. However, let it be known that review, review, review is a major staple of my life.