By: Christine Wood
Whether you’ve been reading the Bible for years or you are just beginning, Bible reading is challenging. If you want to read your Bible and are unsure where to start, or if your Bible reading is feeling a bit dry or boring, here are some great ideas to help you get the most out of your Bible Reading.
PICK A PLAN THAT IS MANAGEABLE
If your days are busy and you don’t have much time for Bible reading, don’t pick a ‘Read the Bible in a Year’ plan that requires 40 minutes of your time every day to keep up with. Choose a Bible reading plan that realistically fits into your life. Reading a small amount regularly is much better than feeling behind all the time.
Or alternatively, use a Bible Reading tracker instead and read the whole Bible in your own time frame. Here’s how I do it (including a printable Bible reading tracker):
2. PICK A PLAN THAT IS INTERESTING
If you follow a topical reading plan or a particular book of the Bible, choose something that fits the season of your life and that you are interested in learning more about. Do a search of You Version reading plans (or use Google or Pinterest) to find a plan that suits the season you are in or the specific tops that interest you.
3. TAKE TIME TO REFLECT AND APPLY
Reading the Bible is good, but our lives are only transformed when we reflect on what we’ve read and apply it to our lives. When you are planning your Bible reading time, make sure you include time to reflect on what you have read and consider how it applies to your life.
4. READ WITH A FRIEND
Like so much of life, Bible reading is enriched by doing it together with others. You may get together regularly and read the Bible together. Or, you may read separately and then discuss what you have learned together with someone. Having a close friend who regularly asks, “How’s your Bible reading going?” is a wonderful encouragement.
5. USE STUDY NOTES OR A COMMENTARY
Let’s be honest: some parts of the Bible are confusing and difficult to understand. Thankfully, resources to help us understand are more accessible than ever before. If a passage stumps you and you struggle to understand, use a tool such as Blue Letter Bible or Bible Gateway to gain insight into what Bible scholars have discovered.
6. CHOSE THE RIGHT TRANSLATION
There are many different translations of the Bible in many languages available. Find one that you enjoy reading.
I usually read the NIV (New International Version) or NLT (New Living Translation). I grew up using the KJV (King James Version) but found the language difficult to understand and relate to, and changed to the NIV when I was in high school. A couple of years ago, when I decided to read through the Bible again, I read some books in The Message paraphrase.
One of the easiest ways to find a translation you like is by downloading the You Version app. You can easily change between translations, comparing the wording of familiar verses.
7. TRY NEW THINGS
There are many different Bible-reading tools and approaches. If what you’ve been doing is no longer resonating with you, or if you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time, it’s time to try something new.
8. UNDERSTAND GENRE
The Bible is a collection of books written by different authors over a long timeframe. These books include many different genres. Understanding the genres is important when you are trying to read and understand the Bible.
There are narrative books that tell a story, books of poetry, books of prophecy, collections of songs, and letters. Each book has its own author, audience and purpose. Understanding these things can go a long way to help you understand and apply God’s Word accurately.
9. TAKE NOTES
One of the best ways to process and remember what you read is to take notes or journal. You can even get a journaling Bible that has a wide lined margin for you to write notes or create artwork in. I use one like this.
10. NO GUILT ALLOWED
Bible reading should never be a box-ticking exercise or religious obligation. The quickest way to kill your motivation to read the Bible is to feel guilty, or like a failure, if life gets in the way and you skip a day (or a week, or more). God wants to have a relationship with each of us. He wants to encourage and challenge us. God wants to speak to us, and one of the best ways He does that is through His Word, the Bible.
God wants us to spend time with Him because we love Him and enjoy spending time together. Guilt and shame have no place in a loving relationship with our Saviour.
If a season of life is getting in the way, and you are struggling to find time to read your Bible, consider engaging with scripture in different ways. Subscribe to the verse of the day. Use an audio Bible to listen to scripture while you drive or do other chores. Write out a meaningful verse on a Post-it note and stick it in a place you will see it often.
There are my top ten ways to get the most out of your Bible reading. I hope you have found some helpful ideas and tools to help you engage with God’s Word in a fresh and enjoyable way.