I’ve often found myself encouraging those I lead to read the Bible – to read it everyday, to memorize it, and to apply it to everything they do.
There’s just one problem: I’m not sure I’ve ever told them how to actually read it.
Is that really necessary, though? It’s a book…you just read it…right? But here’s the thing: It’s not just one book written by one author. The Bible is more like the most diverse series of books ever compiled, with different authors that span centuries and written in a variety of genres – from poetry to prophecy (both of which are often the same in Scripture).
And then there’s all the names we call the Bible: the Word, the Scriptures, the canon (not ‘cannon’), the Good Book, the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Torah, or my favorite, the Book.
Then there are all the different translations. In fact, there are far more Bible translations than there are actual books of the Bible. What language(s) is even being translated?
I could go on listing more questions that I’ve heard and asked myself, but before we get lost in all the questions we can ask, let’s answer the most important question: How do I read the Bible?
Here are some tips to get started:
1. Pick a Book and Start Reading. Even the longest books in the Bible are still shorter than the shortest young adult novels; as long as you read a little bit everyday, you should be done in no time. Don’t let the hurtle of beginning to read be a stumbling block. The best way to start is to simply start. Try not to worry about how much and how fast to read. Just focus on reading as often as possible.
2. Pray as You Read. The Bible is unique in that you can talk to the author whenever and wherever you want, because all Scripture is inspired by God. You can ask God questions while you read, confess when something doesn’t make sense, or even admit that you’re having a hard time believing what you’re reading. The first goal in Bible reading is not necessarily understanding God but listening to God.
3. Pace Yourself. As with anything in life, it’s better to work at something a little bit each day rather than in long sprints every so often. If all you have is the time or attention span for a few minutes of Bible reading, then take advantage of those few precious minutes to hear from your heavenly Father.
Where to Start: If you would like a suggestion as to your first book to read, I would start with either Genesis or Matthew, which are both at the beginning of the Old and New Testaments respectively.
Where to Go Next: From there, ask people in your life who you believe have a better understanding of the Bible than you (parents, pastors, leaders, etc) for their suggestions on what to read next. The Bible is best read with others.
Picking a Translation: It’s often said, “The best Bible translation is the one you’ll read.” It’s very likely that the one you have is perfectly fine. Even the hardest-to-read versions don’t go above a high school reading level, and most translations are written at a middle school level. Don’t sweat the small stuff; just start reading God’s Word!
Author : Austin Palmer, Middle School Director at Calvary Nexus