Updated: Aug 26, 2018
Reading the Bible is a key part of winning with God. But how do we avoid just reading the Bible like any normal book? In this post, we'll break down 5 key tips that can help make your Bible reading rich!
1.Invite God in
Before we even turn a page in the bible, let’s remember what this is about. Reading the bible is an opportunity for us to sit with our Father and learn about His heart. If He is the one we’re reading to learn from and about, it only makes sense to invite Him in and turn the pages with God. Prayer before reading is really important. It’s a way for us to take the everyday, natural task of reading and inviting God’s supernatural power to give us insights we would have otherwise missed. It doesn’t need to be long and eloquent. Just a simple “Father, help me to hear from you” is enough.
In addition to this, keep checking in with God throughout. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth (John 16:13). So as you read through verses, ask the Holy Spirit questions and ask for His help. It’ll take your learning to another level!
2.Never skip what you don’t understand
Don’t get into the habit of just reading to tick the “bible reading” box off your to-do list. Sometimes you’ll read a number of chapters in one sitting. But sometimes, you’ll only read a few verses and chew deeply on that. Whichever is the case, it’s important that we don’t skip over what we don’t understand. If you read a verse and don’t get it, stop and hang out there until you do. It might take minutes, it might take months. But whether it’s instant or you keep on having to come back for days, take the time to dig and search for understanding. God’s word is full of knowledge and wisdom. But as Proverbs instructs us, get understanding throughout our pursuit of wisdom (Proverbs 4:7). Click here for 5 tools to help with this!
3. Don’t just go for knowledge, go for God’s heart
As a great follow on from the last point, it’s important that we don’t fall into the trap of just going for head knowledge. It’s great to be able to recite the scriptures from memory, referencing and cross-referencing with ease. But if we miss God’s heart behind the text, then we’re probably wasting our time. This is what happened with the religious leaders who couldn’t see the work of God in the life of Jesus Christ. So Jesus rebuked them for making the mistake of searching and studying the scriptures, but completely missing what God had been communicating all along (John 5:39-40).
As you read God’s word, constantly ask yourself questions like “what can I learn about God through this?”, “what is God saying to me here?”, and ask the Holy Spirit for insight like we mentioned in tip 1! Click here for a free 7 day devotional to help with this.
4. Be realistic - go for depth before breadth
Now here’s where it really varies from one disciple to another. Some people study for hours everyday with their Bible, Concordance and journal. For many others like me, this just isn’t always practical or possible. Not because it’s a bad idea, but because we all have different styles, ways of learning and other responsibilities in life.
If deep, daily study just isn't working for you, there are other ways you can still win with God. If this is you, it’s often better to stay on one concept to chew on it for depth, rather than just moving on so fast to look for new concepts everyday. You might find that you only do a deeper study with a concordance and journal once or twice a week (don't let anyone condemn you for this - your salvation isn't riding on how many studies you do a day). This kind of study can mean taking weeks or months to finish a book in the Bible, but it’s a great way to add depth to your learning. Because you spend time throughout the rest of the week chewing on the concepts and letting them take root within.
In addition to the once or twice a week deeper study, it’s also a great idea to have a regular and daily pattern of lighter reading. This can be ad-hoc, on a Bible app or physical bible. It can be anything from reading some verses on-the-go to listening to the audio bible as you get ready in the morning. The aim of this type of reading/listening isn’t to do a deep breakdown of the text. It’s to increase the flow of godly thoughts in your mind, which will ultimately affect your output. It’s a great and easy way to practice Romans 12:1-2, which encourages us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds.
5. Make a plan and stick at it.
When I first became a Christian, I had no real plan on how I was going to read the Bible. All I knew was that it was God’s word, and I knew I needed to read it often. So I regularly played ‘Bible roulette’. I’d pick up my Bible, ask God to lead me then open up a random page and choose a random verse. Sometimes it worked out and gave me something good to chew on. But many other times, I had no idea what to do with the randomness I’d just read!
The Bible wasn’t originally written in chapters and verses. It’s also made up of 66 individual books written and compiled over approximately 1,500 years. Each verse in each book has a context that matters. We’d find it hard to make sense of a movie by picking a random line from the script. The same is true with the Bible. It’s best read with an intentional plan and in light of the wider context. So pick a book and read it from the beginning. If it helps, lookup a good Bible reading plan (YouVersion’s Bible app has plenty of these). Whatever you pick, make a decision to slowly but meaningfully read from the first chapter and verse onwards in any given book.