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.
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.
Get a jump start on your daily Bible reading with these free Books of the Bible Study Questions.