The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. An estimated 9 out of 10 households in America own at least one copy, yet only one in five Americans have read it the whole way through. How could it be that one of the most influential books in the world is read so little?
If we’re being honest, it’s probably because the Bible can be hard to read! It isn’t written like the books we read today. To new and seasoned believers alike, the Bible can feel like a jumble of different stories, names, and details that can be tough to follow – or are just plain boring!
It’s okay to feel this way about the Bible, but your experience and interaction with it can be greatly enriched once you begin to understand the way it was put together. First, remember that the Bible comes straight from God. The words may have been written by people, but they didn’t come from human minds. Like 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
The Bible is a tool God gave us to live well and get to know his heart. It opens a dialogue where we can listen to God and respond to him in the way we process what we’ve read and change the way we live. There’s so much to gain from reading the Bible regularly. Whether you have specific Bible-reading goals or simply want to make it a daily habit, here are some tips to help you read the Bible and stick to it:
Where to start reading the Bible
It’s okay if you’re not sure where to start when reading the Bible. It isn’t organized in chronological order, so don’t feel like you need to start at the very beginning – though you certainly can! It's helpful to think of the Bible as a library; it’s a collection of books instead of one book in and of itself.
There is no best place to start reading the books of the Bible, but since the entire Bible is about Jesus, a great place to start is in one of the Gospels! The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, known collectively as the Gospels, contain details of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. When reading the gospels you’ll hear the teachings of Jesus and journal-like accounts of his works on Earth.
As you start making Bible reading a daily habit, consider starting with a topic or category of the Bible that sounds the most interesting to you. If you like history, try Genesis or Acts. For poetry, look at Psalms or Lamentations. Romans and Ephesians contain lots of guidance on how to live life well. You can also find Bible Reading Plans that will guide you through different sections of the Bible or help you accomplish a goal like reading through the whole Bible in one year.
How to stick to your plan
You know where you’re going to start – awesome! But every good goal needs a plan. Here’s a 3-step plan to make reading the Bible part of your daily routine:
Step 1: Decide on a time and place
It doesn’t have to be a literal chair, but the first step to making reading the Bible a habit is to figure out where to start reading the Bible daily. Pick a time of day when you can consistently open your Bible. Many choose to do this first thing in the morning or right before bed, but whatever time you stick to is the right time for you! In a similar vein, decide on a place where you’ll read – it doesn’t have to be a literal chair, but make sure it’s a spot where you’ll be able to focus. There are seasons of life where focus looks different. Try to eliminate as many potential distractions as possible but give yourself (and others in your household) grace!
Step 2: Take 10 minutes
One of the biggest misconceptions about reading the Bible is that you must spend a long time reading to get the most out of it. That couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s all about quality, not quantity. The Bible is so rich in history and wisdom – it shouldn’t take much time at all for you to come across something that jumps out at you. Try setting a timer for 10 minutes before you begin to read and see how far you get. You may want to highlight verses that catch your attention or write them down so you can look back over them.
Step 3: Read and reflect
Once you’ve read, give yourself time to process what you’ve just taken in. Allow yourself time to re-read verses that stood out to you or explore questions that came into your mind as you read. If your mind tends to wander, try writing your thoughts and questions in a journal.
Before you finish, take time to talk to God about what you read. Thank him for what he’s shown you and the things you learned from your reading. You can also ask him your questions and invite him to give you more wisdom and clarity.
What’s the best Bible for beginners?
If you’re looking for a Bible to keep at home or started using a Bible reading app recently, you’ve probably seen all kinds of translations such as NIV, ESV, and more. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, and each translation allows us to read and understand the Bible in English. Some translations, like the King James Version (KJV) bible version focus on a word-for-word, literal translation of the original text. Others like the New International Version (NIV) and the New Living Translation (NLT) take the original thoughts in the Bible and translate them for easier reading and understanding with more modern language. Translations like The Message (MSG) paraphrase the main ideas of the Bible with less formal language and can offer a fresh perspective on familiar passages.
We recommend the New Living Translation! It’s written in a way that’s easy for most reading levels to understand, but it still preserves the core truths and concepts from the original texts.
By deciding where you’re going to start and taking intentional steps to read the Bible daily, you’ll develop a routine and get closer to your Bible-reading goals! If you’re looking for more ways to enrich your time reading Scripture, here are some more resources:
If you're looking more resources to start with, check out some of our recommended Bible Reading Plans like:
Or look into taking one of Bible Discovery classes at a location near you, or online!
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