How to Study the Bible (aka How to Get the Most out of Your New Year’s Resolution)

    In high school, I tried reading the Bible on my own. I was all geared up to grow closer to God and take accountability for my own faith. Feeling inspired, I cracked open my Bible and started reading. . . and that was it.

    This can’t be right. I don’t feel like I’m getting anything out of this. I closed my Bible and thought that maybe I’d understand it when I was older.

    Maybe you’re feeling the same way. It’s mid-January, so you might be in the midst of trying to accomplish your New Year’s resolution to read your Bible more. But now that you’re in the swing of things, you might be asking yourself if you are actually getting anything out of reading your Bible. If you’re feeling defeated, fear not!

    I think a lot of people, like myself, hadn’t been taught how to read the Bible. We know reading the Bible is good for our faith and that it’s how we learn more about God, but we don’t know where to start. Do I start in Genesis? Do I follow the plan in my Bible? How much do I read per day? Am I supposed to do anything besides read the text?

    These are all questions I’ve asked myself over the years as I’ve tried to study the Bible. When I was in college, God blessed me with a close friend who showed me how she read the Bible, and it literally changed my life. That’s not even me being dramatic—I really don’t think I would be a Bible-reading Christian if I hadn’t learned from her.

    If you’re struggling to find a good routine for reading your Bible, here are a few tips that have helped me over the years!

     

    Find your format

    I literally cannot concentrate when I’m just listening to something. My mind wanders without something to anchor me to my current focus, so reading is the best option for me. But I know people who like to listen to their daily devotion or Bible reading while they’re working out, eating breakfast, or driving to work.

    Journal it out

    Starting to journal was a pivotal point in my faith life. I wasn’t getting much out of just reading my Bible because that’s all I was doing—reading the passage and then shutting my Bible. I didn’t think about the passage in relation to my own life or in the grand narrative of Scripture. This is where journaling helps me! I’ll often feel convicted about a sin, comforted about a worry, or reassured of my forgiveness on any given day during my reading. Working through each passage by journaling my thoughts has helped me immensely. I don’t worry about perfect punctuation or flow of thought (don’t tell my boss!)—I just let the thoughts flow out as I think of them.

    Some people follow an OIMA (observation, interpretation, meditation, application) pattern to guide their journaling, but I just kind of generally follow those guidelines by free-writing my thoughts.

    Dig Deeper

    And when you have questions about the text, you can get reliable information about context and interpretation from the footnotes and introductions to each book of the Bible in The Lutheran Study Bible. It can be confusing and even misleading when you try to interpret Scripture all on your own and come up with your own private understanding. Studying the Bible with the wisdom of fellow Christians and faithful pastors and theologians ensure you’re accurately and correctly understanding the Word of God!

    Don’t be too ambitious

    The notes in this blog, however, won’t necessarily apply directly to your situation. Find your own way. Try different times and methods for reading the Bible.

    But remember: reading the Bible isn’t a race. Even committing to reading an entire chapter a day can be ambitious depending on what book of the Bible you’re in. I usually read the chunk of text under a single section heading, and sometimes even that is too long, so I’ll just do a paragraph. The Bible is packed full of goodness, and it takes me a long time to journal through even a short passage!

    There’s no rush. Find a good amount for you.

     

    What has worked best for your Bible reading time? What tips do you have for others? Share in the comments below!

    Get free reading tips from the General Editor of The Lutheran Study Bible by filling out the form below.

      3 Responses

      1. Grace Gotoski

        I have read through a Bible set up for daily readings, and no, it was set up to be accomplished in a year, but it took me longer. More recently, my success has been with the Today’s Light Devotional Bible. I am on my third time through — the first time, I read (and I really appreciate the “get the big picture” and Sharpen the Focus) my NIV Today’s Light. The second time through, I used my NIV for the Get the big Picture and Sharpen the Focus, but read my The Lutheran Study Bible (TLSB) — I wanted the ESV — and I used TLSB Law and Gospel Applications as part of my reading. For my third time through – I bought the ESV Today’s Light Devotional Bible and use The People’s Bible (Northwestern Publishers) occasionally to gain more understanding of what I am reading.
        I have been blessed in my reading — and I have shared with a family member who is on her 2nd or 3rd time reading through the Bible!

      2. Kyle Wright

        This is a very appropriate and definitely a timely posting. This is about the time when people are becoming discouraged by so many factors; missing a day or two, the time you devoured is not as available as you thought it would be, and what are you really getting out of it. The points made are very relevant and the big take away; don’t be discouraged. Keep at it. Each day will become easier and easier, by His love and grace.

        When my wife and I started doing Mantins in the morning using the “Treasury of Daily Prayer”, it was awkward, we missed days, etc. Now after several years, if we miss doing Mantins, it feels like something is missing in our day. It is the same with personal Bible devotion. We need to commit the time, though we don’t want to, Satan doesn’t want us to either. So, don’t be afraid to ask your heavenly Father for the strength and love for Him to keep at it. Only through His strength will you be able to preserver.

      3. Beth Wu

        I read through the daily reading of my Treasury of Daily Prayer…then read the notes on the text in The Lutheran Study Bible. Doing this I have learned so much! I’m reading this for the third time…this time with my husband! The notes in the Lutheran Study Bible really open up the text…are so helpful!

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