The past few months, I’ve been talking about new Bibles. From trying out a devotional Bible to gifting a Bible to someone, we’ve considered why finding the right Bible can enhance your walk with God. Now that maybe you have a new Bible in your hands or you’ve decided you want to continue using your current Bible, it’s time to delve into reading it. A new Bible or renewed vigor for reading the Word of the Lord is an opportunity to reevaluate your Bible-reading habits. But where do you start?
Use a Reading Plan
The most helpful advice I can give is to use a reading plan. Using a reading plan gives you specific passages to read and a timeline for reading them. While reading plans allow you to move at your own pace, they also offer some accountability. It’s a way to be structured in your personal time in the Word, but it also leaves room for flexibility.
Look for Other Resources
I learned to develop my own standard questions for reading the Bible from a podcast episode. I started thinking more critically about how I read the Bible—about whether or not I was just reading it and saying, “That’s good enough,” or whether I was actually trying to learn from what I read. The episode helped me cultivate discernment and also gave me a new perspective on how I spent my time in the Word. Finding resources that discuss how to read the Bible is helpful to starting your own time of devotion with the Lord. Recently, the winter edition of Lutheran Life, a digital magazine for everyday Christians, focused on reading your Bible and offered tips that I think are helpful in starting a new Bible-reading habit.
Begin in a Gospel
One of the best pieces of advice I got when I first started learning about the Bible was to start with a Gospel. Before getting this advice, the only way I had thought about reading the Bible was to start in Genesis and read straight through. Starting with a Gospel allows you to center your entire reading of the Bible on one of the accounts of our Savior’s mission on earth. Because you start with the One the entire book centers around, every other account is colored by that. (It is anyway, but this can help sharpen your view of Christ throughout all of Scripture!)
I always get excited about starting things. I plan out how I am going to start them and then, almost always, decide to start it later. I am bad at starting things. But I’ve found that once I’ve started something, I normally can stick with the task (even though I modify the plan as I go along). It’s okay if you have to change the how/when/what of your Bible-reading habit. But a habit begins when you follow through and do the thing. So, start today.
To help you start, we have designed a 30-day reading plan through the Gospel of Matthew. We designed this specifically with the Portals of Prayer Devotional Bible in mind. If you’ve gifted or are going to be gifting this Bible, I encourage you to print out the reading plan and give it alongside the Bible. The plan can also be used with other Bibles, and I encourage you to download the plan and start digging into the Word of the Lord.