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As a Christian, I have mixed emotions when it comes to how to read the bible. While I can easily read a mystery novel with hundreds of pages, it’s a struggle to make it through books of the bible. I often get stuck on the language that is used and the fact that it isn’t chronological. The language isn’t very relatable. One moment you are reading about creation and the other you are struggling to decipher the beast with ten horns and seven heads rising up out of the sea. While reading can be a challenge, through daily study of the bible, we not only draw closer to God, but we get a clearer picture of whom God truly is.
Study of the bible isn’t optional but rather an essential part of a Christians daily routine. Psalms 119:11, says: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Reading the bible does not have to be a hassle.
Here are five techniques, you too as a beginner can incorporate to aid in the study of God’s words.
Don’t try to read the bible in the order of its contents
I have made countless new year resolutions to read the bible in a year. Where do I usually start? Genesis, it’s the first book of the bible after all. While it’s great to get an outlook at how things all began, most of the books after this isn’t chronological. As a non-avid reader of the bible, this is usually a sure-fire way to start feeling overwhelmed and confused, ultimately losing interest. If you choose to read chronologically that’s perfectly fine, however, for a beginner, I caution you against it.
I don’t know if you are guilty of this one, but I know I am. I will pray to God and say, God, I need a word from you today. I then proceed to open the bible and read whichever verse my eyes fall on. This isn’t good practice as you don’t get the full picture of what the verse is saying unless you read the entire context the passage is taken from.
Sometimes it is essential to look to outside sources to dig into the background, practices, and customs of a particular group to help you develop a deeper understanding of the chapter you are reading. This is important, so let me repeat, when reading a book in the bible, identify who wrote it, what do you know about its author? Dig into the culture and background identifying what was going on at that particular time. By doing your background research it helps paint a clearer picture of the message its author was trying to bring across.
Start with shorter books
I remember back in the day when I was in school, I would review the curriculum to see what textbook we would be using for the semester. I would quickly become discouraged by those big bulky textbooks with long chapters. It’s the same with reading the bible, find the shorter books of the bible and start there until you have cemented your practices. Don’t set yourself up for defeat. I find short books that mimic the story format are good places to start like the book of Esther or if you are into personal development, learning from the experiences of others then Ecclesiastes is also another book you could start with.
From a short story based book model, you may wish to move on to more longer books such as the Psalms, filled with verses of thanksgiving and inspiration as well as the four gospels that speak of the life and death of Jesus Christ. Whether you start with biographies, a study on a particular subject find a format that works best for you to start with. The key takeaway here is to start small and work your way up. Another pro tip I will add here is to limit the number of chapters you read when just starting out. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take time to reflect and understand what you read, re-reading if you must until you get the big picture.
Find a version that speaks a language to which you can relate
I find the language used in the King James Version (KJV) to be a bit dated, hard to relate. As a newbie, you may wish to stay far from the KJV. Choose a translation of the bible that you can identify with. With this one, you want to be careful, not all translations are created equally. I have come across versions where sections of passages are omitted. For someone looking to study God’s word, I don’t find this ideal. We don’t just want pieces of his truth, we want all he has to say to us. Research the options, and choose wisely.
Have the right tools
In studying the bible, have a handy bible dictionary, it will help you clarify words you may not understand. You may also wish to invest in a concordance, it will help you to pinpoint what the bible says on a particular topic. For example, if you want to know what the bible says about love a concordance can show you all the verses in the bible that speaks to love.
Pray before reading
Although this is written last, it’s the first thing you want to do before you start reading the contents of the bible. The bible was written by holy men of God as they were moved. It would seem to make sense you reach out to its originator to get the inside scoop into what you are reading. By praying, you put yourself in the right frame of mind to study God’s word asking God to help you understand what you are reading. Once I have prayed and read a particular chapter, I find it helpful to ask myself these two questions:
- What did I just read about?
- What lesson or lessons can I take away?
There are various ways to analyze what you read in a particular chapter, feel free to research them, however as someone just starting out, I find that simplicity is best.
Bonus Tip: If you want to keep what you have learned, use it. The best way to do this is by sharing what you have learned with someone else. One way you can do this, is through starting your very own Christian Blog Ministry.
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