How to Read the Bible
How to Read the Bible

How to Read the Bible

Whether you are completely new to Bible reading, or whether you’ve been at it for years, you probably need help in making God’s Word a part of each day. The truth is, we all do. The following are some practical guidelines you can use. They fall into two categories: Preparing and Reading.

Preparing to Read the Bible

The first thing you’ll need to read the Bible regularly is a sincere desire to do so. Maybe that seems too obvious, but it is important. If our habit of daily Bible reading is to be successful and profitable we must develop a hunger to know God better through his Word. And we need to ask God for this hunger in prayer – constantly.

Another very important part of preparing to read the Bible is to choose a system. It’s frustrating when you have ten or twenty minutes set aside for Bible reading to waste time randomly flipping through your Bible deciding what to read. Without a systematic plan, you’ll probably read and reread the books you know best and avoid the ones with which you are unfamiliar. There are many helpful Bible reading systems available from your church, online, or local Christian bookstore. Evaluate several and then choose a plan that systematically takes you through all parts of the Bible. And follow it.

Two simple, but helpful preparations are find a spot and set a time. When you read the Bible, choose a place where you can be alone and concentrate. Also, plan a specific time of the day for Bible reading. If you don’t it’s too easy to skip it. Whatever time you set to meet with God, however, the important thing is that you keep your appointment! Now let’s turn our attention to how we go about actually reading the Bible.

Reading the Bible

“If you aim at nothing, you’ll probably hit it,” is a phrase we sometimes hear. This applies to our Bible reading as well. If we are not aiming to meet God in his Word, we won’t. So, consciously come to your time of Bible reading expecting to hear God speak to your life situation. Come expecting to learn, expecting to change, and you won’t be disappointed.

Next, read your day’s passage thoughtfully and prayerfully. Start by considering the context of your passage. That is, familiarize yourself with what comes before and after what you read so you keep the verses in their proper perspective. Then read the passage slowly. You may even want to read it twice to make sure you get it all.

After reading, meditate on the text and its meaning for you. This will involve your intellect as you answer questions such as “What is the main point of this passage?” “What do I learn about God?” “What does Christ require of me today?” It will involve your imagination as you put yourself in a parable, illustration or biblical story and reflect on what it would be like to “be there.” (For example, try to imagine your thoughts and feelings if you were in the crowd watching Jesus’ crucifixion.) And it will involve your heart, as you honestly apply God’s Word to your life, when it hurts as well as when it inspires.

After you’ve grappled with the text, think of ways to take its message with you into the day. Keep a notebook of your discoveries, memorize a key verse, tape a 3 x 5 card with a helpful verse to a familiar spot in your home or office, or make up a melody and “sing a verse” throughout the day.

And don’t forget prayer. Since God is speaking to you through the Bible, naturally you will want to answer him in prayer. Pray before you read, asking the Holy Spirit to give you insight. If you come to a verse that touches a particular need of yours or spotlights a sin you’ve given in to, stop and pray about it. And when you finish reading, pray again that God would help you act on what he’s said to you. Bible reading combined with prayer will transform your daily Quiet Time from a religious habit into a two-way interaction with God.