Moving from good intentions to productive Bible reading

Moving from good intentions to productive Bible reading

If you’d like to know more about the Bible, where can you start? It’s a big book. Sometimes the size of the Bible intimidates us and we never actually start reading because we don’t know how to do it. Here are some useful principles you should consider so that Bible reading actually happens instead of remaining only a good intention:

  1. Small and regular is better than large and infrequent

Enthusiastic young Christians, or people who are keen to restart a Bible reading habit they used to have, often start by trying to do too much. That afternoon devoted to reading the book of Isaiah in one sitting might be commendable, but it is not something you can do very often. It is also harder to have time to think about and apply the Bible if you read such large amounts at once. It is far better to read even a few verses a day on most days than to try to read large slabs once a week.

  1. There is a lot to be said about setting up a godly Bible reading habit

Habits are very powerful in that once a pattern has been established, you don’t need to actively decide to read the Bible. Experiment and find a time of day that works for you best. Ideally, connect your Bible reading with something you already do, so when you do one you automatically do the other thing. For example, make your morning coffee (which you already do) and then sit down and read your Bible. Or read your Bible after dinner. Once Bible reading is established in your life as a habit, you will find yourself reading more and thinking more about the things of God throughout your day.

  1. Have a plan so you don’t only read the passages you like and ignore the rest

Although opening the Bible at random and pointing to a verse might seem spontaneous, and re-reading encouraging passages might be tempting, we need to hear the whole counsel of God. Over time, we need to hear encouragements, challenges, laments, prayers and teaching. There are many Bible reading plans freely available on the internet that will help you cover the whole Bible. If you have never done it before, reading the Bible in a year will be a great help. Over the longer term, trying to read the Bible in three years gives you more manageable daily chunks to think and pray about. You want to read from 2 Chronicles as well as from Ephesians.

  1. Ask questions of the passage instead of just reading it

You need to read the Bible expecting it to change you and say something useful for you (remember 2 Timothy 3). It is easy to read something and then immediately forget it; think of the last time you read a news article, for example. To avoid this, try taking some notes as you read, and consider asking questions of whatever passage is before you. Ask what this passage tells you about God, what it tells you about Jesus, and what you can practically do in response. You will find you will read more closely and remember more if you do this.

  1. Bible reading and prayer go together

God speaks to us through the Bible; we speak to God through prayer. We need both parts of this to have a relationship with God. So when you read the Bible, consider what it leads you to pray about. Don’t just shut the Bible and then pray for the test coming up or your cousin’s sickness; pray about the ideas God has raised for you in the passage as well.

  1. Consider reading the Bible with someone else

Much of your Bible reading will be alone, but there is great benefit to meeting regularly with someone else to do this as well. When you know you are going to meet someone else to read the Bible with them, you will write down things you don’t understand and benefit from another person’s perspective and experience. If you have been a Christian quite a while, maybe find a new Christian to help with their understanding of the Bible. This is a practical way that we can help one another.