I cannot recount how many times I have told myself that I am going to read the bible in a year and read the bible from cover to cover. I would commence with a printable bible reading plan for beginners and couple chapters in, I lose sight of my goal. Can you relate? I often have mixed emotions when it comes to how to enjoy reading 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 like a story book that chronologically takes you from beginning to end.
Can I talk about the language for a second? 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. Bible study isn’t optional but rather an essential part of a Christians daily routine. Today, I am sharing with you tips on what to do when you are struggling to read the bible.
HOW TO PROPERLY READ THE BIBLE
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Order To Read The Bible For New Believers
I have made countless new year resolutions to read the bible in a year. Where do I start reading the bible? 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. Don’t get me wrong, Genesis is an awesome book and is actually a book I love. I find books like Numbers and Leviticus harder reads. 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 too. Start off with topical studies or books that are of interest to you.
I don’t know if you are guilty of this one, but I have seen persons do it. They pray to God and say, God, I need a word from you today. They then proceed to open the bible and read whichever verse their 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.
Best Place To Start Reading The Bible
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. These are some good stories to read in the bible.
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. These would be wonderful books of the bible to read when struggling. Whether you start with biographies, or 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.
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Best Bible Translations For Beginners
I often get asked how to enjoy reading the bible. I find the language used in the King James Version to be a bit dated, hard to relate and not the easiest bible version to understand. Depending on your taste, you may wish to stay far from the King James Version. 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. I generally like the English Standard Version or the New Living Translation. Review the different bible translations on your bible app and stick with the one you relate better to.
Daily Bible 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. Get creative with how you study the bible, you could try, bible journaling, write, draw or paint scripture, use inductive studies, or even listen to scripture on the go.
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.
Bible Study Apps
You Version Bible App - This is the bible app I use on my phone. It gives you access to various versions of the bible as well as the audio versions for some of the translations. I especially like to listen to the audio version during my commute to and from work. The app also has devotionals and daily inspirational bible art that you can incorporate into your daily devotional time.
Scripture Typer - I recently discovered this one and hope to incorporate it a bit more in my routine. This is a great app for helping you to memorize your favorite bible verses. It utilizes 3 cognitive areas (touch, visual and auditory) to help you learn verses.
Got Questions - As you study the bible, you will likely come across questions that you don't know the answer to. The Got Questions bible app can help. You can browse questions by topic as well as ask questions and have them answered by the community.
Free Online Bible Studies
Looking for free online bible studies? I encourage you to check out Living By Design Ministries. They offer a number of free online bible studies throughout the course of the year. One of my favorites is their Worthy of the Calling bible study which is a deep dive into the book of Ephesians.
Proverbs31 Ministries also offers a number of free topical bible studies on their website. A few of the topics includes:Anxious for nothing, 5 habits of a woman who doesn't quit.
To Love Honor & Vacuum - On Sheila Gregoire's website, you can also find a few online bible studies. You will however need to purchase her books on Amazon that goes along with the studies. Her bible studies include: 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage and The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex.
Bible Study Methods
The following is a roundup of various bible study methods to help you breakdown and understand scripture.
REST Bible Study Method - This method is all about helping women to lay down the devotionals and delve into the real world of God.
PRAISE Bible Study Method- Developed with the idea of not just reading the bible with a casual heart but looking at the verses and chapters to get the true backstory of what God wants us to learn and understand.
SOAP Bible Study Method - This method is about reading and then applying it to your everyday life.
By beholding you become changed. You become an expert on a topic by studying and spending a lot of time on the subject area. It is the same with the bible, by plugging into the source we develop a deeper personal relationship with the Lord. My hope is that you have found some helpful tips on how to read the bible for yourself and how to have a successful bible study.
I would love to hear from you, comment below: What are some tools and resources that you use that you find helpful in your daily bible study time?