I’m 10 years old, staring at the stained-glassed window on the east wall of our small-town church. Shades of red, blue, yellow, and orange come together to form a beautiful image of a cross that etches itself forever in my mind. My eyes trace the curves of iron holding the glass that has a peculiar way of catching light and making it dance. The preacher’s voice bellows from the pulpit, his voice thick with conviction and something else that sounds like grace. He’s reciting words of Scripture that are familiar from years of sitting in those scratchy, green cushioned chairs.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)
The preacher’s message is designed to draw us into the Word of God, where he claims we’ll find abundant love and mercy. My eyes wander back to that light-stained glass that distracts with its beauty and mystery, the preacher’s words all but forgotten.
The Struggle with Scripture
This, my friend, is a perfect depiction of what Bible reading has felt like for most of my Christian life; something I know I should be doing, but too distracted and intimidated to fully engage with.
I was 18 years old when I decided to trade in my hollowed-out heart for a life overflowing with the loving presence of Jesus. I’m 26 years old at the time this is being written, and the road of walking in faith hasn’t been easy. It’s been messy and far from perfect but I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s been more than worthwhile.
But Bible reading has consistently been this ominous thing in my walk with God that I never really knew how to approach, or why I was expected to approach it.
The truth is, Bible reading can feel boring, confusing, intimidating, and stale for those of us who don’t know where or how to begin!
If you have had any of these thoughts or feelings when it comes to Bible reading, you’re not alone! It wasn’t until recently that I learned how to make my head connect with my heart when it comes to engaging with Scripture.
I strongly believe the words of 2 Timothy 3; Scripture is God-breathed, useful for teaching, correcting, and training us in order to be equipped to carry out God’s purpose and plan for our lives.
I believe the Word of God was meant to be engaged with and executed in our everyday lives, not just passively read and forgotten throughout the day. I believe that the Bible is where we experience the presence of the Holy Spirit and cultivate a rich and intimate relationship with Him. It’s where we gain truth and wisdom on how to navigate this crazy, beautiful, unpredictable life!
Friend, if you have a yearning in your heart to know God on a deeper level and an aching to uncover Him in His Word, you’re in good company. I want to share with you today a Bible reading method that helped me go from simply reading God’s Word to engaging with God through it.
The TEND Method
It’s called the TEND method and it was created by Christian author and writer, Mariel Davenport who has been gracious enough to allow me to share this amazing method with you all! TEND is a four-letter acronym designed to help you study small, bite-sized pieces of Scripture (as in 1-4 verses at a time) in order to uncover God’s heart and apply it to your everyday life.
This method has transformed the way I approach Scripture and engage with God through His Word.
Let’s go through this four-letter acronym together, one letter at a time:
T: take time to pray
Before diving into Scripture, it’s helpful to pause and center your heart and mind on Jesus through prayer. God’s Word says that you can pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of requests (Ephesians 6:18). This prayer can be as simple as Samuel’s words in 1 Samuel 3:10, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” It’s a way to connect with God while asking Him to speak through His Word.
E: examine the facts
As you begin reading, write down the facts of each verse. Take a look at the nouns, verbs, or even the Names of God. This is not where you apply the verses to your own life just yet, so make sure you’re writing down the facts from the author’s perspective. The facts can be summarized, but it’s important to stick to what the text says rather than create your own interpretation of the Scripture.
N: notice God’s heart and the lessons He’s highlighting
What is this verse revealing about God? Are there any lessons He’s showing you? Is there SPACE: a sin, promise, action, command, or example that He is highlighting in this verse? If you’re focusing on the Names of God in this passage, what do these Names mean and what do their definitions reveal about God’s heart?
D: do what it says
This is arguably the most important part, as this is where you take what God has revealed to you and apply it to your life! How is God calling you to respond to the lessons He’s highlighted? It can be helpful to write out questions in response to your lessons learned and then answer those questions honestly. For example, in what ways can I practice humility in my life today? Try to stay away from questions that start out with “do I” as these tend to be one-worded answers. It’s best to begin your questions with “how” or “in what way”.
Where & How to Begin
If the TEND method sounds like the answer you’ve been looking for when it comes to engaging in your Bible reading, then you may be wondering where and how to begin. This method is perfect for smaller books of the Bible such as Habakkuk, Jude, 1 & 2 Peter, and Philippians.
You can even begin on an even smaller scale and TEND your favorite chapter out of the Psalms. I recently tended Psalm 23, only tending one verse a day for six days. Mariel has an online course for this on her website — among many others you can check out — if you’d like extra support as you learn to tend your way through Psalm 23.
If you’re already following a Bible reading plan, no worries! Pick a verse or two that stood out to you from your reading that day and TEND those to see what God wants to show you.
Try not to get so caught up in where or how to begin that you don’t begin at all! Remember, this method aims to get you engaged with God’s Word so that you can grow and thrive in your personal relationship with the Creator. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so be patient with yourself as you learn.
Tools You’ll Need
Before beginning, it can be helpful to know what tools to utilize when practicing the TEND method:
Mariel created a guided Scripture journal specifically for the TEND method! It’s called Tending Through the Word and you can pick it up on Amazon. This journal walks you through how to practice the method and then gives you 46 days worth of space to TEND your chosen verses!
If you don’t want to purchase the tending journal, you can always head on over to your local Target, TJ Maxx, or Walmart (or pretty much anywhere they sell journals) and pick out your own blank journal! This is what I did before Mariel came out with her own guided journal and it was just as effective.
A Pen or Highlighter
I don’t know what your Bible looks like, but mine is loved well and worn from years of turning its pages and underlining my favorite verses! I personally like to write in my journal with a regular old pen but use a highlighter when it comes to highlighting verses in my Bible. Some of my favorite Bible highlighters are the Mr. Pen No Bleed Gel Highlighter, Bible Highlighters, Assorted Colors, Pack of 8.
This might go without saying, but in order to utilize the TEND method, you have to have easy access to Scripture! You can grab a print Bible, go online to biblegateway.com or download the YouVersion Bible App on your phone if you don’t have access to the Bible in print. If you are looking for a good print Bible, I personally love the NIV Women’s Study Bible:
Unlike the others, this tool is totally optional! I personally like to light a candle when I sit down to have some Bible reading time. Not only does it make my quiet time space smell lovely, but the flame of the candle acts as a physical representation of the Holy Spirit. There are so many times throughout Scripture where God speaks and moves through fire — cue Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3 — and lighting a candle is an easy way to keep God present in your Bible reading time.
One of my personal favorite candles, if you’re a boujee candle buyer like me, is the Swan Creek Candle Roasted Espresso 24 Oz Jar in the color Tan. If you’re looking for a less expensive option, another of my personal favorites is the Chesapeake Bay Candle The Collection Two-Wick Scented Candle, Brown Sugar Chestnut.
Come Alive Through the Word of God
Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Bible reading doesn’t have to be boring, stale, or intimidating. Judging by Hebrews 4:12, it was meant to be used as our greatest tool on how to navigate this life. Scripture is meant to be a quiet, safe space for you to pause in the presence of God and grow closer to Him as you learn to tend your soul with His Word.
I pray that as you begin to utilize the TEND method, you would come alive through the Word of God and grow deeper in your love for Him.
*If you would like to know more about the TEND method, please check out Mariel’s website where you can find a plethora of resources on how to tend your soul with the Word of God.