Ready to start reading your Bible? Not quite sure how or where to start? You’re in the right place!
I’ve been in your shoes and I’ve since turned the corner and now help thousands of others learn how to begin reading and studying the Bible … and how to keep going.
How to Start Reading the Bible – A Beginner’s Guide
I know you want to open your Bible, read what’s on the page, and understand it immediately. Yet there are many barriers that keep us from doing just that.
1. Choose the right Bible for you
This goes without saying, but you need to get a copy of the Bible in order to read it. You probably already have one, but it may not be the best fit for you. There are a bunch of different Bibles on the shelves at the Christian bookstore and it can be super-overwhelming to know the difference between them all. Here is a post all about the different types and versions, if you are interested. But the bottom line is this: use a version you can read easily. If you’ve had a Bible for years, but the reading level is way over your head, consider grabbing a version that is easier to read. The New Living Translation (NLT) or the NET Bible are both very readable and great for beginners.
If money is tight, I’m sure your local church has copies on hand they would love to give you. Alternately, check your local thrift shop and/or bookstore for inexpensive copies. I often see $5 deals at LifeWay or through online promotions. There are also loads of free apps you can grab. (My favorite is the ESV Bible app.)
2. Start building the habit of reading your Bible
Habit —> Understanding —> Worship
Probably the most common barrier to reading and understanding the Bible is a lack of habit. In fact, I often have to go back to this step, even after decades of reading and studying the Bible. Because I cannot gain more understanding without a regular routine of opening my Bible. Until we have established the habit of regular Bible reading, understanding is going to be hard to come by. Why? Because without the habit, you’ll start off strong but fizzle out by the end of the week. How do I know? Been there. Done that. My guess is, you have to.
Here are a few thoughts to consider as you embark on creating a rhythm of regular time in the Bible.
- Start small. Choose something that will give you the quick win!
- Ex.: These short reading plans range from 8 days to 31 days.
- Schedule a date with God. Don’t worry about finding that perfect time, simply look at your schedule for tomorrow and pick out the best 10 minute slot. Put it on your calendar and get ready for it like it is any other appointment.
- Here are three more tips about establishing a regular quiet time with God.
- Make it enjoyable! Grab a new coffee mug or some yummy hot chocolate reserved only for your time with God. Buy a new blanket to cozy up with, or a pretty basket to keep your Bible in. I like to keep tissues and sticky-notes with my favorite pens handy in case I need to jot down something I need to remember to do later.
- Keep going. Don’t give in to the paralysis of perfectionism. Resist the thought that reading for 5 minutes isn’t enough. Five minutes of reading one Bible verse is better than none read at all!
- Invite a friend to read the same plan and consider meeting up in a week or so to talk through what you’ve read. If you are not sure who to invite, consider an online Bible study group.
Once you are in a regular rhythm of Bible reading then you can begin to focus on understanding what you see in the pages of Scripture.
3. Know where to start reading the Bible
There is no one “best place” to read the Bible, but there are certainly some places that will be easier to understand right away, more than others. By and large, most people pick up the Bible and begin reading it from cover to cover … and get stuck somewhere in Leviticus. God’s Word doesn’t have to be read “in order.”
Here are a few favorites that many love to read through again and again:
A few things to keep in mind:
- You are not going to understand everything you read. The Bible is a deep, complex masterpiece. There are certainly many truths we can easily see on the surface, but there is much more below than can be mined. It takes time to put all the pieces together.
- The Spirit of God lives within you. Though you may not comprehend everything right away, if you are a Christian, you have the very presence of God within you to guide and teach you as you read!
- Remember the end goal of Bible study. It’s not simply to gain knowledge. The end goal of Bible study is worship. Bible study is about getting to know our magnificent God! Opening your Bible with a heart of expectation is an act of drawing near to Him. Even if you walk away scratching your head about what you just read, it is still an act of worship. A step closer to experiencing God in your everyday.
- Look into investing in a good study Bible. The helpful notes and charts found throughout are invaluable in helping with understanding what you are reading. Here is a post all about my favorite study Bible.
4. Engage in two needed viewpoints: Bird’s Eye View and Bug’s Life
There are two main lanes of Bible study that will help us begin to understand the Bible: the “bird’s-eye-view” and the “bug’s life.” Both perspectives are important elements in our journey toward comprehension.
A bird’s-eye-view of the Bible provides a big picture perspective and helps us connect the dots between all the different pieces. I learned many Bible stories in my early years, but I lacked a basic timeline and understanding of how all the characters are associated. Reading plans through a book of the Bible and reading through the Bible chronologically are an excellent way to gain this critical viewpoint.
There is much to be gained from that big-picture vantage point, but we can also learn from the details the “bug’s life” can provide. When we dig deeper into a passage—zoom in to a small portion of Scripture and take our time while we are there—we begin to see details we never noticed on a quick read-through. And these details can be seen in as little as 15 minutes a day through these Bible studies for busy women.
Both are lanes of Bible study are necessary. Both help us enjoy the Word. Both help us see God more clearly and worship Him better.
5. Connect with your local church for resources
God created us for community. Specifically, His will is for each of us to be a member of and involved in a local church. Most local churches have some sort of small group Bible study option. Finding a church home and a small group will be a great step towards experiencing God daily.
You don’t have to have all the right words. It can be in your head, spoken out loud, or written out in a journal. Simply express to God your desire to know Him better through His Word. He desires the same. It’s His will for you to experience a deep and enjoyable time in the Bible. If you ask Him to help you create the habit in order to understand what you encounter and worship Him better, then you make consistent choices toward that end, He will answer that prayer! Without fail.
What other questions do you have about getting started in regular Bible reading?