Most helpful critical review
100 of 107 people found the following review helpful
Full of Helpful Information for Beginning Christians.
on September 11, 2002
HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE FOR YOURSELF is a great book to read if you have never studied the Bible, if you feel that you're not getting much out of reading the Bible, or for someone who is a new or fairly recent convert to Christianity. The book is full of useful information that if you've never heard it or put it into practice before could be of great use to one's spiritual life. It includes guides to how to read the Bible in a year, different ways of reading the Bible, how to keep a prayer journal, memorizing scripture, etc.
However, a lot of the information contained within this book will prove valuable only if you are someone who is a new Christian or if you are someone who may have been a Christian for awhile, but have made a renewed dedication to Jesus. I was forced to read this book as part of training for a job I had a Christian institution. I was bored out of my mind. Everything that the author wrote were things that I had heard countless times and had been practicing of my own accord for several years. Not only that, but I was a bit taken back by the author's condescending tone. For instance, several times the author says something to the effect that 'You do not have to do things this way, but I have found over my many years of training that this way is the best way that works for almost everyone; if you don't do things this way there maybe something wrong with your spiritual life.' Not only that, but the author makes several references to other books he has written. I felt like I was reading something by the Walt Disney company trying to mass market their products through every avenue possible; the author's self-promotion just didn't seem right for a book aimed at trying to help people study the Bible.
One final point of criticism, the author makes hardly any mention of prayer. In fact towards the end of the book LayHaye says, "Personally I think it is more important to read, memorize, and study the Bible than to pray, for it is more important for God to talk to us than for us to talk to Him. We certainly are not going to tell Him anything He does not know, but he Has much in His Word that He wants us to learn." The book then goes into a page explantation citing that it is important to pray and gives an example of how to pray. Out of all the other criticisms of the book--the condescending tone and the shameless self-promotion--the lack of emphasis of prayer is the most disturbing. Prayer and study of the Bible go hand in hand; you really cannot have one without the other; they are like the two feet we stand upon, cut one away and we lose our balance and fall. One of the biggest differences that separates Christianity from all other religions is that Christianity isn't about a set of rules to follow, it's about relationship; our relationship to God and in turn how that relationship affects our relationships with all other people. Prayer is one of the most vital parts of that relationship ("Pray without ceasing") and to barely mention it in a book on studying the Bible is a major mistake.
Therefore, though this book is a great tool for new Christians, it won't be of much use to more mature believers. Also, keep in mind that though LaHaye hardly mentions prayer, prayer happens concurrently when studying the Bible.