Sometimes, personal Bible reading can be scary. The temptation for us is that we think that only the ‘holy ones’ or the clever ones can understand the Scriptures, or that we need a commentary to understand God’s word.

That’s not true.

This simple tool was introduced at our first Fellowship Weekend held in January 2016, where we focused on just one thing -- learning to read the Bible for ourselves. The OY/4R model is designed to work out a process for basic Bible reading for anyone.

Why is it called the OY/4R model? We can begin by drawing an O on top of a Y as shown in the image below, and this gives you 4 sections. Every passage that we read can be interpreted and thought through along these 4 big headings -- God, Man, Christ, and lastly, our response in this order. In each of these categories, we can ask ourselves simple questions of the text to help us learn more about God's character and actions, Man's nature and fallenness and the goodness and work of Christ. Lastly, as we think and work through these, we ought to end off with a reflection on the way we should respond to what God has revealed to us in His Word. 

This model is simple, and anyone with a Bible can try it! This framework helps us unfold Scripture slowly and gently. There are 4Rs that accompany this model, that show us the steps that we can take to prepare ourselves to read the Bible. 

  • Ready yourself to meet with God.

Pray humbly and ask God to speak to you by understanding this Scripture rightly (e.g. Ps 145:18, Dan 5:14, Jn 14:26, Jn 1:9, Heb 6:4, Eph 1:18, Jn 16:13-16). Recall everything you know about the text, the context, history, situation, storyline, characters and message of it if you know anything.

  • Read through the whole passage carefully.

Read the text another time out loud, mouthing through the text slowly and look out for key phrases and the main idea. Next, read it again for a third time, thinking about the questions from the OY outline

  • Write down your devotional thoughts as a way of organising your reflections and learning from this passage.

Use the OY outline to do so. Writing is simply a way of concretizing thought and a way of practicing personal discipline. A good way to write devotionally through a text is using the OY outline because it will force you to think about what the text is saying, and therefore, what God is saying to you.

  • Respond to God in prayer, meditation and worship.

Pray (e.g. adoration, thanksgiving, confession, intercession) about how you feel about it and if applicable, what you will do in response to it.

This is a simple, but helpful model for Bible reading. The key is to start small, but work at it faithfully and consistently. For example, you could start with just 5 minutes a day in a Psalm, and slowly increase the duration gradually. Alternatively, this model is also flexible enough for you to use pockets of time in the day, such as your commutes or breaks, to read and meditate on a passage of Scripture. Everyone has their own habits, but the important thing is to take the first step and start.