A Simple Guide for Reading Your Bible
Daily Reading Your Bible isn't Hard or Complicated!
Are you a new believer and looking for a simple way to study your Bible? Or maybe you've been a Christian for several years and have struggled to daily open the Word. Maybe you've tried reading through the Bible straight through or struggled to keep up with a Bible reading plan.
If you've failed over and over again—unable to keep your reading commitments, unable to understand the difficult parts of scripture—stop beating yourself up!
Your pastor likely encourages, even admonishes you to read your Bible—and you really want to—but you're stuck in an endless rut and don't know where to begin. Often you are told to read your Bible, you know you should, and want to, but no one has showed you how.
This generation has tons of knowledge: there are millions of Christian books, hundreds of thousands of sermons published online, and churches in every city—but even with all of that head knowledge, I have a feeling that millions of Western Christians struggle with applying God's Word to our lives.
Since "personal devotions," "quiet times," and "personal Bible study times," are private, I feel that most Christians wonder how to have a personal time with the Lord in his Word, and need to see it modeled.
We don't always have the privilege to see how our brothers and sisters privately read and pray.
Not that I am a super saint, or that I've found some secret formula, but I'm going to show you how I personally spend time in the Word with the Lord.
I'm a minimalist and I enjoy keeping things simple. I've tried reading plans, in the past, and found them to be too confusing and difficult to keep up with. I've seen plans that move 10 bookmarks through your Bible, ones that are tied to a calendar that left me with the guilt of "getting behind," and ones that spent whole months in the minor prophets, leading to confusion and discouragement.
Stop feeling guilty, stop feeling shame, and let's dive into God's Word—in a simple and Spirit led manner.
Here we go.
Why We Read the Bible
1. It's God's Word. It reveals God: Who he is, what His desire for us is, what He has done, and what He is going to do.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. -2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)
2. It's how the Holy Spirit speaks to us.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. -John 14:26 (ESV)
- In other words, the Holy Spirit reminds you of what the Scriptures say; He also illuminates and helps us understand Scripture. How the Holy Spirit has done this in my life is by answering questions, I have asked the Lord, with answers from the Bible. Often, when I am encouraging someone else, the Holy Spirit bring to mind a verse that applies to their situation. Sometimes, when I have had an area of struggle, a verse will be said in a sermon, song, or during personal study that helps edify, admonish, or build up my understanding of Jesus.
3. You won't be ineffective.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. -2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV)
- We are supposed to add knowledge of the Lord to our life, which will keep us from being ineffective. That knowledge is found in God's Word.
4. You will be guarded against temptation.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. -Psalm 119:9 (ESV)
Stuck on What to Read?
Start with John 14-17.
It's Jesus' last instructions to the disciples. For me, it is the most comforting passage in Scripture and shows Jesus' love for us in such an easy to understand way.
A Simple Way to Study: It Starts With the Spirit
First, I pray that the Holy Spirit would illuminate the scriptures to me and give me understanding. I need the Holy Spirit's help to understand and apply scripture to my life.
I love this passage in John:
I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
-Jesus (John 16:12-15 NASB)
What Should I Read?
I think this will vary from person to person. However, I do think that context is important, so reading a book in it's entirety can be really helpful.
I spend the majority of my Bible reading time in the New Testament, the Psalms, and Proverbs. Intermittently, I will go back and study a book of the Old Testament to make sure that I glean knowledge and application from all of scripture.
If you're just getting into the habit of reading your Bible, I would suggest starting in one of the Gospels, so that you have a firm understanding of Jesus and his ministry.
The New Testament can be broken up into two categories:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
These are historical, eye-witness accounts of Jesus's life, death, and Resurrection. This is where you find the majority of Jesus' direct words and teachings. The Gospels tend to be very narrative, telling stories and presenting facts.
An epistle is a fancy word for a letter. Besides Acts, the rest of the New Testament is made up of letters from the Apostles to the early churches, instructing them in the way of salvation and how to live a godly life, personally and corporately.
ESV, NASB, and NKJV are all Excellent, Literal Translations
The Method I Use
- Choose a passage.
- Write down any verses that pop out at me that I want to apply and remember.
- Write down what those verses are saying.
- Ask the Lord how I can apply those verses to my life. I write down questions and things I feel that the Lord wants be to do or understand.
It's really simple! It's not about reading a whole book in one sitting, or trudging through the books of the Bible in order. Instead, it's about focusing on a snippet of scripture, and letting God's words soak into my soul.
An Example: Here's a Passage I'm Reading
It's Journal Time
After writing down this passage that spoke to me. I will write what I think it means in bullet points. Then I will consider what the verse is saying to me specifically through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Rejoice in hope. Christ has given us the hope of Heaven and of being with him. In in tribulation, we called to be patient.
- Be constant in prayer. Pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17)
- Give to the saints and show hospitality.
- Detest what is evil and hold fast to what is good. Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
- Lord, how can I show hospitality to my brothers and sisters? Is there someone I can be the hands and feet of Jesus to this week? How can I use my time and finances to bless you?
- I need to be more constant in prayer. I need to pray without ceasing. Lord, what things are distracting me from praying? Help me to cultivate a lifestyle of being prayerful and taking every thought captive.
- Abhor what is evil. What evil have I allowed to creep into my life? What movies, magazines, or thoughts aren't honoring to you? Am I turning from all evil? Have I allowed gossip to enter into my life? Help me to seek the things above.
My Bible Reading Journal
It's Go Time!
Some Closing Thoughts
*Reading your Bible should draw you closer to the Lord.
*It's not a chore. It's an opportunity for the Lord to speak to you. Enjoy it!
*There are tons of Bible reading plans out there, and I hope that you find one that works for you.
*Even if you're busy, tired, or downtrodden. Choose your favorite verse and mediate on it.
*The point of reading your Bible every day isn't to check off an item on your "religion" to-do list. It's about waiting on the Lord to hear from him.
*There is so much freedom in what Jesus has accomplished for us! This love for you never changes. He's faithful even when we are faithless.
*Don't be bogged down in legalism. If you think you have to do something to earn God's favor, realized that Jesus already lived a perfect life—and that when God looks at you, he sees Christ's righteousness in you. Positionally, if you are in Christ, you are favored, forgiven, and loved unconditionally by God. Skipping a few days of Bible study isn't going to change that.
*As you draw closer to the Lord, your desire to be more like him will increase. As you meditate on scripture, and let it change you, you will hunger for God's Word.