A Barna Group Study indicated that the majority of people want to read their Bible more, but of those people, a healthy number can’t seem to get over the hump (so to speak) of wanting to read more to actually reading more. Perhaps we aren’t teaching people how to read the Bible. According to their research, one of the main reasons most people don’t read their Bible more is because they are “too busy.” For most, getting older means getting busier and busier. The Bible warns about the busyness of life. Jesus says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow” (Matt. 6:25) and Paul says, “Don’t be anxious about anything” (Phil 4:6). Our lives can become overwhelmingly busy if we aren’t careful and thoughtful to change our approach. We all know too well that our daily responsibilities can easily choke out the word that God so desperately wants us to hear.
Creating space to hear God means creating time to be with him and to read his word. It’s the way to move into right relationship with God and make straight our priorities. Roxanne Stone of the Barna Group says, “People still see Scripture reading as a worthwhile pursuit. The key is helping people see Bible reading as essential and not merely aspirational.” Reading the Bible should be part of our daily routine, but how do you begin? Here are a few starting points on for your journey.
How To Read The Bible: Helpful Tips To Go Deeper With Your Bible Study
Here are some helpful tips on how to read the Bible to experience God on a deeper, more intimate level.
A good place to start is in prayer. Ask God to point you in the right direction, minimize distractions, and focus your heart for the following moments on Him. Then develop a game plan.
Develop A Game Plan
Where do you want to go with God and how much do you want to know? Go on an adventure with God this year! Just like traveling to a new place, beginning a new chapter in encountering God’s Word will need some directions. We’ve found that an overwhelming number of Bible reading plans, and we’d encourage you to simplify the process.
Your plan could look something like this, reading several verses a day in each: (1) start with the book of John and work backward through all four gospels; (2) move to an epistle (Romans, Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians); (3) read the Old Testament (start with Genesis); (3) read the Psalms. You might want to set a timeframe or a number of verses that you plan to read each day.
As you read through the Bible, write out questions or journal your prayers. This will help you understand what you’re reading more intimately and give you space to allow God to use his word to change you. Consider identifying words, phrases, relationships, and biblical connections that stand out. You may also want to practice memorizing key verses.
Finally, strive for consistency. Commit to a consistent time each day to read. We all know that if we want to understand the Bible more deeply, we have to read it. And, let’s not forget that we’re reading it for our hearts and minds to change and be in accordance with his will.
Create Small Achievable Goals
With a game plan in place, you may want to set some personal goals. Setting goals that are unreasonable might have an inverse effect. We know that consistent failure doesn’t foster a positive experience. If you schedule to read five chapters a day, it may become too much. Reading a few verses from each of the various areas in the Bible will help spur you on and keep you going throughout the year. In times past, reading scripture and praying were defined and spiritual disciplines. We might just label them as habits today. No matter their label, if you commit to reading the Bible daily, you will model a rhythm of reflecting on God that will spill over into your other daily tasks.
Find A Translation That Makes Sense
All of our reading levels are different. Consider using a translation that might help you understand the text more fully. Some people like to have a companion translation nearby so they can compare between two translations. It’s also helpful to have a study Bible because it provides additional references and explanations along the way. For beginners, the King James Version will be a little more challenging in comparison to the New Living Translation or The Passion Translation.
Change The Delivery Of The Scriptures
The human body has five different senses: taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell. We receive information through these five senses which allow us to formulate decisions and illicit feelings based on the information we’ve received. Reading the Bible may not work as effectively for some as listening to the Bible is for others. Listening to the Bible stimulates a different part of the brain which would allow us to receive information in a different way rather than through sight. Maybe try to listen to the Bible and follow along, activate more than one information receptor.
Touch. Holding a physical Bible has a different effect than holding an iPad or a phone. This stimulates our sense of touch in a way that allows us to feel that the Bible is real and it is a physical item that we can interact with. Take notes, highlight, markup, and draw in your Bible. Unlock the creative side of your brain through touch.
Some people are against technology usage in the Church, but according to Barna, the overall exposure of the Bible through technology has increased as a whole from 2011 to 2017. So there is some good coming from the usage of technology in church. Exposure is one of them.
Taste and smell might not play as big of a role as the other three (sight, touch, and sound) do but they are still important senses that allow us to gather information.
The Atmosphere Matters
Create a comfortable environment for yourself that increases the opportunity to connect with God. The atmosphere matters when it comes to focusing. This could be a challenge to eliminate the number of distractions during this time. Cellphones, laptops, watches, children, television, the dog, literally anything that can draw your attention and focus will become a distraction if we let it. The more distractions we eliminate the louder we can hear God’s voice.
Having the right motivation will allow you will go as deep into the Bible as you want. Let’s be honest, we make time for the things that we are passionate about or enjoy doing in our lives. Reading the Bible may not be one of them but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be or that it shouldn’t be, we just have to put a little extra effort towards it this year.