Learning how to read the Bible effectively is one of the best things you can do. Learning to read the Bible helps you grow spiritually and know God more deeply. The promises found in the Bible will encourage you to keep going in difficult times. The commands in the Bible help you to live in a way that pleases God.
Read on to learn how to read the Bible and get the most out of it.
Do I have to start at the beginning of the Bible?
No! You can start reading anywhere in the Bible. If you are new to the Bible, however, you might want to start with one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John). These books tell the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
All of God’s word is valuable, and no matter where you start reading you will benefit. 1 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
If you don’t know where to start reading, consider these books:
- The Gospel of John
- The book of Psalms
- The book of Proverbs
- The book of James
These books will give you a good foundation in the Bible and help you to understand some of its key themes. They are a good starting place for learning how to read the Bible.
How should I approach reading the Bible?
The best way to approach reading the Bible is with an open heart and mind, eager to learn what God has to say. We should come to the Bible with humility, ready to receive its teachings.
When we approach the Bible with humility, we are more likely to understand and apply its truths to our lives. James 1:21 says, “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
The Bible is living and active, and as we read it, we should pray that the Holy Spirit would help us to understand its message. Without the Holy Spirit giving us understanding, the Bible will remain just words on a page. But through the Holy Spirit, the Bible comes alive and can change our lives.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
This means that as we read the Bible, it has the power to change our lives. It can help us to see ourselves clearly and convict us of our sin. It can also comfort us and give us hope in times of trouble.
When we approach the Bible with humility and a willingness to learn, we will be blessed by its teaching.
10 Ways To Read The Bible Effectively
Start with prayer
Before you begin reading, take a few moments to pray. Ask God to help you understand his Word and to apply it to your life. Pray that the Holy Spirit would give you wisdom and insight as you read. Pray also for any specific areas of your life that you would like God to work on.
Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
This is a great prayer to pray as you start reading the Bible. Ask God to help you understand what you are reading and to apply it to your life. Ask Him to open the eyes of your heart so that you can see the truths of His Word.
Choose the right Bible translation
There are many different Bible translations available, and it is important to choose one that you will be able to understand. If you are new to the Bible, you might want to start with a more modern translation, such as the New International Version (NIV) or the English Standard Version (ESV).
If you are more comfortable reading older, more traditional language, the King James Version (KJV) or the New American Standard Bible (NASB) might be a better choice for you.
Whatever translation you choose, make sure that it is one that you will be able to understand. Don’t worry about choosing the “perfect” translation. The most important thing is that you are reading the Bible and allowing God’s Word to speak into your life.
Read with a pen and paper in hand
As you read, keep a pen and paper handy so that you can jot down any thoughts or questions that come to mind. You might want to write down key verses that stand out to you, or make a note of anything you don’t understand.
You might also want to write down any areas of your life that you would like God to work on. As you read, pay attention to any areas where you feel convicted of sin. These are areas that God might be wanting to change in your life.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If you don’t understand something you’re reading, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You can ask a friend, a pastor, or even look up the answer yourself. The important thing is that you are taking the time to seek understanding.
There are also many helpful Bible commentaries available that can provide insights into the meaning of Scripture. A quick Google search can help you find a commentary on whatever passage you are reading.
Remember, the goal is not to understand everything perfectly. The goal is to grow in your understanding of God and His Word.
Thoroughly study one book of Bible
One way to get the most out of your Bible reading is to thoroughly study one book at a time. This will help you to understand the context of what you are reading and to see how it fits into the overall story of Scripture.
As you study each book, pay attention to its overall theme and how it points to Jesus. Jesus said that all of Scripture points to Him. In John 5:39, He said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.”
For example, in the book of Genesis we see God creating the world and mankind. This points to Jesus Christ as the Creator and sustainer of all things.
In the book of Exodus we see God rescuing his people from slavery in Egypt. This points to Jesus as our Rescuer and Savior. Focusing on Jesus will help you to see how all of Scripture points to him and ultimately leads us to worship and glorify Him.
Focus on a single verse of God’s word
Another way to get the most out of your Bible reading is to focus on a single verse each day. Read the verse slowly and thoughtfully, and allow it to sink deep into your heart.
Meditate on the meaning of the verse and how it applies to your life. You might want to write the verse down so that you can refer back to it throughout the day.
Consider trying to memorize the verse as you think about it through the day so that it sinks even deeper into your heart.
Read chapters of Scripture
When you are reading through a book of the Bible, try to read several chapters at a time. This will help you to get a feel for the overall flow of the book.
You might find it helpful to read one Old Testament chapter in the morning and one New Testament chapter in the evening. Or, you could set aside some time on the weekend to read several chapters all at once.
As you read, keep in mind the overall theme of the book and how it points to Jesus. Try to identify any key verses that stand out to you. And don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something.
Read groups of Bible books
Another helpful way to read the Bible effectively is to focus on groups of books that go together. For example, you could read the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) together.
Or, you could read the Old Testament books that tell the story of God’s people (Genesis through Esther). Or, you could focus on the New Testament letters (Romans through Jude) or Paul’s letters.
Reading groups of books will help you to see how they all fit together to tell the story of God’s redemption.
Read the entire Bible cover to cover
One of the best ways to get the most out of your Bible reading is to simply read through the entire Bible cover to cover. This may seem like a daunting task, but it is actually very doable if you break it down into manageable chunks.
For example, you could commit to reading three chapters a day. At that rate, you would be able to read the whole Bible in about a year.
Or, you could set aside some time each week to read several chapters all at once. Doing this will help you to see the big picture of God’s redemptive story and how all of Scripture points to Jesus Christ.
Another helpful way to engage with Scripture is to practice Bible journaling. This simply means taking time to write out your thoughts and reflections after you have read a passage of Scripture.
You might want to journal about what the passage teaching you, how it applies to your life, or what questions you have. Bible journaling can help you to process what you are reading on a deeper level and to apply it to your life.
Some questions you can answer during your Bible journaling include:
- What is the meaning of this passage?
- How does this passage apply to my life?
- What questions do I have about this passage?
- What is God teaching me through this passage?
Use a Bible app
There are numerous Bible apps that allow you to read the Bible on your smartphone or tablet. These apps can be a great way to take your Bible reading with you wherever you go.
Many Bible apps also offer features that can help you to engage with Scripture on a deeper level. For example, some apps offer daily devotionals, audio versions of the Bible, and the ability to journal your thoughts and reflections.
Some popular Bible apps include:
Use a study Bible
A study Bible can be a helpful tool as you read and engage with Scripture. Study Bibles provide commentary and resources that can help you to understand what you are reading.
They also often include maps, timelines, and other tools that can be helpful in your Bible study. If you are new to the Bible or if you have questions about what you are reading, a study Bible can be a valuable resource.
Some popular study Bibles include:
- The ESV Study Bible
- The MacArthur Study Bible
- The NIV Study Bible
- The Reformation Study Bible
Use Bible commentaries
Bible commentaries are another helpful tool that can be used as you read and study Scripture. Commentaries provide in-depth explanations of Bible passages and can offer helpful insights into the meaning of the text. Commentaries can be especially helpful if you are struggling to understand a particular passage of Scripture. They can also be useful for looking up specific topics or keywords.
There are all sorts of commentaries, ranging from easy-to-read to highly detailed. Find ones that fit your needs and that you will actually use. Popular commentaries include:
Read with a friend or in a group
One of the best ways to get the most out of your Bible reading is to do it with someone else. A friend or small group can help to hold you accountable in your reading and can offer helpful insights and perspectives.
Reading the Bible with others can also be a great way to grow in your faith and to build relationships with other believers.
If you don’t have anyone to read with, consider joining an online Bible study or reading group.
Use a Bible reading plan
There are numerous Bible reading plans available online that can help you to structure your reading and keep you on track. These plans can be a helpful way to make sure you are reading from different parts of the Bible and that you are reading on a regular basis.
Choose a plan that fits your schedule and that you will actually stick to. You can find Bible reading plans for every day, for specific days of the week, or even for just a few days each week.
Some popular Bible reading plans include:
- The M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan
- The 5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan
- The Chronological Bible Reading Plan
- The One Year Bible Reading Plan
- Bible in a Year Plan
Take part in a Bible reading challenge
If you are looking for a way to jump-start your Bible reading, consider signing up for a Bible reading challenge. These challenges typically last for a set period of time and involve reading specific portions of Scripture each day.
- Bible Reading Challenges:
- 90-Day Bible Reading Challenge
- 100-Day New Testament Bible Reading Challenge
If you are new to Bible reading or if you haven’t read the Bible in a while, don’t try to tackle the entire thing at once. Start small and work your way up.
A good place to start is with one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John). Another option is to begin with the book of Psalms.
Don’t feel like you have to read a certain number of chapters each day or that you need to finish the Bible in a certain amount of time. Just focus on reading regularly and consistently, even if it’s just a few verses each day.
As you read, take time to pray and ask God to help you understand what you are reading. He will reveal what you need to know when you are ready to hear it.
Read God’s word consistently
When it comes to how to read the Bible, the absolute best practice is to read it consistently. Make a habit of reading the Bible every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
The more you read, the more familiar you will become with Scripture and the easier it will be to understand and apply its truths to your life. So set aside some time each day to read God’s Word. It is truly life-changing!