By Rachel Tiemeyer
In part 4, we thought about the big picture of what delighting in and meditating on God’s Word does in our life. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to reading the Bible and getting something meaningful out of it.
I’m not a trained pastor or theologian, but I have been reading the Bible for over 20 years now. Along the way, I’ve picked up some helpful Bible-reading strategies. For more specific instructions on how to get started reading your Bible, check out Crossing Pastor Patrick Miller’s post in part 1 of this series: “7 Day Steps to start Reading Your Bible in 2021”.
Here are a few simple tips that have helped me in my quest to connect with God while reading his Word.
1. Something is better than nothing.
This happens to be my mantra about Bible reading and exercise. Ha!
Not sure where to start when opening your Bible? Overwhelmed at the prospect of spending 30 minutes reading it? Here’s my advice: just start with something. Even a few minutes of reading Scripture can help take our eyes off of ourselves and our own circumstances and lift them up to God. And that can change our whole perspective.
So, just tell yourself that something is better than nothing each day. You might be surprised how 10 minutes of “something” turns into a habit and grows your appetite to spend even more time reading the Bible. Check out this 10 Minute Bible Challenge for help working Bible reading into your day.
Want some help getting started? Click below to download our free Bible Reading Plan printable. Use it to set simple goals for yourself each day, and don’t forget to leave a few black for catching up!
2. Start with a Psalm or a Gospel.
When I only have a few minutes to read, I usually turn to a Psalm. Some favorites are Psalm 19 (about God’s Word and his creation), Psalm 23 (about God as our good Shepherd), and Psalm 34 (reminds me of who God is and that he invites me to “taste and see” his goodness). The Psalms not only give us a picture of who God is, but they teach us how to interact with and pray to God.
If you want to learn more about Jesus, I encourage you to start reading one of the Gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. John may be a good one to start with because the language is simple yet profound. It will give you a picture of who Jesus is–from his famous “I Am” statements, to the story of him restoring Peter after he denied Jesus, to the full resurrection account at the end. If you want to start in Mark, tune into Ten Minute Bible Talks’ new series on Mark and read through it with them.
3. Listen to the Bible.
Whether you’re driving to work, at the gym or cleaning the house, listening to the Bible is another way to make time for meditating on God’s Word.
There’s a great audio recording of the NIV Bible by a very talented British actor named David Suchet. Our family has really enjoyed his reading! We listen to it on the way to drop the kids off at school in the morning and then pray briefly before dropping them off. Another cool resource is an app called Dwell. This has lots of different versions of the Bible recorded in different voices with optional music in the background. And YouVersion’s Bible app has some options to listen to Scripture as well.
4. Ask a few questions.
Reflecting on some simple questions each time you read can help you extract more from the text. Here are three to get you started:
- What does this passage teach me about God/Jesus?
- What does this passage teach me about the human condition? About myself?
- What does this passage teach me about how to respond to God?
5. Pray what you read.
Use God’s Word as a guide for prayer. Praying from the Bible is one of the best ways to learn how to pray! It’s also another way to help his Word sink down into your heart.
Here are some examples of ways to pray, using the reflection questions above:
- Does the passage teach you something about God? Praise and thank him for that. Ask him to show you more and more of whatever that attribute of God is.
- Does that passage teach you something about the human condition? Your sin? Confess your own weakness and sin to God. Ask him to forgive you and help you to follow him.
- Does the passage teach you a command to obey? Ask him to help you trust his good commands and to follow him in that way.
For an example of what praying through the psalms could sound like and some more tips on where to start, check out this podcast episode by Dave Cover: “Praying Some Favorite Verses.”
Here’s an idea: How about starting tomorrow morning, you set your alarm 10 minutes earlier? I sometimes have my coffeemaker ready to go the night before to make it even easier to get up and get going.
Then, sit down to read God’s Word—maybe a Psalm or a Gospel—just for 5 to 10 minutes. Remember, something is better than nothing.
After you read, take a few minutes to reflect on some of the questions I mentioned—what do you learn about God? Yourself? How to respond to God?
And, finally, pray back to God what you read and learned.
A prayer for connecting with God
Lord, help us to be men and women who desire and make time to read the Bible each day. Grow deep roots of faith in our lives and make us more like your Son, Jesus, as we connect with you through your Word. Amen.
Reading and meditating on God’s Word is not rocket science, but it does take a little planning, diligence, and practice. You and I can be assured, though, that reading the Bible is something we’ll never ever regret spending time on each day.
Are you ready to learn more about Jesus on your own? Sign up for our 12 day devotional, Surveying Mark’s Gospel, and have scripture reading, reflection, and prayer prompts delivered to your inbox each day for the next 12 days.
Don’t miss the rest of our five-part series for Making Jesus More in 2021: