Practical Steps for Reading your Bible
by Charlie Loften
For a lot of us, every year is the same. We start with some New Year’s Resolutions and by about February, we have forgotten and/or moved on. Whether it’s eating better, exercising more or being more patient with people who drive slowly in the left lane (You should probably add that one to your list). This phenomenon is especially seen when Christians make a pledge to read the Bible more this year, especially if you pledge to try and read the Bible all the way through in a year.
So, the question is, what can I do to make Bible study and reading a more consistent part of my life? Rather than being someone who reads and studies the Bible intently for short periods of time, how can I make that a long-term habit?
We will look at some of the reasons why we get discouraged reading the Bible and what we should do differently.
“I start reading the Bible and Genesis is pretty cool and Exodus is interesting. I barely survived Leviticus, I quit once during Numbers but came back and then DEUTERONOMY. Seriously, isn’t that just Leviticus again?”
Answering the second question first, yes, much of Deuteronomy is a repeat. It means “second law.” It is Moses repeating the law to them before they go into the Promised Land. To the first point, if you have ever found yourself in this situation, I would recommend what is called a blended reading plan. If you use the Bible app or Bible Gateway, both have plans that are called blended. Also, the One Year Bible is a blended plan. What that means is that you read some of the Old Testament and New Testament every day and usually a bit of Psalms and/or Proverbs. This helps you from getting stuck in just reading one type of book and gives you a break from types that you find harder to read.
2. Honestly, I don’t understand what I am reading.”
You know what? That’s Ok. Not everything in the Bible is easy to understand and there are some parts that require some knowledge that many don’t have. However, you will find that the more that you read the more you will understand. Don’t worry if you don’t understand what you read today. Maybe tomorrow’s reading will help explain. Maybe the next book you read will help. Maybe next year when you read it again, having read the whole Bible, you will understand. Don’t worry about understanding everything. Just focus on trying to grasp the big picture and understanding and applying at least one thing. Which leads to:
3. “Sometimes I feel like I am going through the motions”
That’s something you must discipline yourself against. One good way to do that is to start each reading with a simple prayer. “God, please reveal something to me today through your Holy Spirit.” That is a prayer that you can guarantee God will answer every time. Now read your passages with the expectation that God is going to make something leap out to you. God has something special to share with you today and you are on a hunt to find what it is.
The last piece of advice I would give is don’t only read the Bible by yourself. Be sure that you are also reading/studying the Bible with others. Sometimes we can’t overcome our own prejudices to really understand what God is saying. Continue to be a part of a church where you are hearing someone preach the Bible to you. When there are parts of what you read that are confusing, write questions down and share them with people you trust.
God wants you to read, understand and apply His Word. Build the discipline and you will be amazed by what God will reveal to you.