2 Timothy 3:16-17 “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.” (NLT)
If you’ve ever picked up the Bible, read a few verses and felt confused, you’re not alone.
If you’re going through a season where it’s hard to make reading the Bible a priority, you’re not alone either.
The Bible can seem strange or at times tedious and dry, but God has so many things to tell you through it. He’s just waiting for you to crack it open with a heart willing to engage. Don’t let confusion or time management get in the way of learning more about God and yourself.
Here are seven tips that will give you a fresh approach to reading the Bible or help you get started, if you never have before.
1. First pray.
If you’re feeling unenthusiastic about reading the Bible, ask God to give you a hunger for what His word says. He wants you to read and has so many things to reveal to you there, so He will give you a passion for reading His word if you ask for it.
When you’re confused or working through difficult to understand sections ask Him to help you make sense of what you’re reading. Realize that God might not give you an exact interpretation right after you ask Him. Come back to that section again the next day—sometimes taking a second look at a passage will help you see something you hadn’t noticed before.
2. Pick a consistent time and place to read.
If making time for reading the Bible is hard for you, work it into your routine. Like exercise, your classes or a part-time job, schedule a time and stick to it. Think about what time of day you are the most awake and ready to take in what God might have to say to you—that could be in the morning when you first wake up, before you go to bed or even in the middle of the day between classes. Also, find a place to read that is free of distractions and comfortable for you.
3. Find someone to hold you accountable.
Maybe that’s your discipler. Maybe that’s a close friend or roommate. Find someone that you can share your reading plans with and then ask them to check in on you.
4. Use a version you are comfortable reading.
You don’t have to make yourself read the King James version of the Bible. Instead, experiment with different versions until you find one you prefer. One of the most well-used versions of the Bible is the New International Version. Other translations such as the New Living Translation or The Message are written in very plain English and are easier to understand if you are confused. Never feel boxed into one translation. Read from different ones regularly to broaden your perspective.
5. Try out an app.
If finding time to read the Bible is difficult for you, you might begin by using an app. There are many different apps that offer quick and easy devotionals. Using an app is a good way to start introducing time in the Bible into the rest of your daily routine. Some apps that you might try are the YouVersion Bible app or She Reads Truth.
6. Find a reading strategy that works for you.
As you read, find a strategy that helps you engage with the words on the page rather than just breezing through them. It doesn’t matter how fast you read through the Bible, it matters more what you connect with and learn.
Two strategies you could try include:
- Believe and obey — When you read through a book and stumble across any statement that asks you to believe something or to obey something, stop and be honest with yourself. Do you really believe what it says? Are you actually obeying? If you don’t, why? Think through the reasons why you do or do not believe or obey something. Think about if God is calling you to make a change.
- HEAR — HEAR stands for highlight, explain, apply and respond. If a specific verse comes to your attention, write it down, underline it or actually highlight it. Then begin asking yourself questions to explain what the verse means. What is it trying to communicate? Why is it included in the the Bible or why is it in this particular section? To whom was it originally written? How does it fit with surrounding verses? Next, begin asking yourself questions as to how the passage applies to your life. What does this mean to you? Or what is God trying to say to you? Finally think about what the verse wants you to do. What kind of call to action does it contain? (This particular acronym was developed by Robby Gallaty.)
7. Check out more of our blog.
#shamelessplug. Since you are already here, check out more of our Wesley Next Steps blog posts. Right now, we are going through 2 Corinthians, and we will continue to go through sections of the Bible for the whole year. Each day, we will post an overview that you can use to familiarize yourself with a chapter. Then go to the Bible and read it yourself.
Author | Lindsey Conway