Unfortunately, many Christians love the idea of the Bible, but not really the Bible itself. We love having a Bible close by, even within reach, but don’t make time to open it on an average day.
We talk about Bible reading like we talk about cutting calories or cleaning our house. We’re grateful for the results, but we don’t wake up dying to do it again.
And yet there are a number of Christians we know who loves reading their Bible. They can’t get enough of it. They would just as likely go a whole day without food as without the Bible. Their happy discipline convicts and, sometimes we don’t get it. Why, and what can we do about it that will make our relationship with the holy book cordial?
Here are seven suggestions which may help:
Pray – The Bible is not like any other book. You need God’s Spirit to help you understand and process it. Pray before and as you read it. Ask God to help you understand what you’re reading—even to help you enjoy it.
Version – Pick a version easy for you to understand. I would suggest you read a more literal translation primarily, but the paraphrase versions are good for casual reading. We suggest HCSB, NIV, or NLT for a more literal but very readable version; ESV or NKJV if you want a most literal translation; or for a paraphrase version, that’s extremely readable, try The Message Version.
Sharing – It brings Scripture to life when we can share it with others. Find a small group. That’s what church is great for at providing. Or find a group of guys or girls at a coffee shop or a couple of people from work. Studying the Scripture with a community helps energize you as you learn. When you talk about what you’re reading, it helps you value it more.
Journaling – Writing about your time in God’s Word will help you process your thoughts and keep a record of them. It’s exciting to go back over time and remember what you read before. It fuels your enthusiasm to study even more.
Timing –Find the right time and setting- morning, noon, or night—what works best for you. And for as long as you can. Don’t put a time limit on it that adds more burden to the experience. We recommend people start with easier books to understand and move to more difficult passages from there. Most books in the New Testament are good places to start.
Clarify – It’a best to have a study Bible for this part, but there are plenty of free online tools also. Look up words you don’t understand. Learn to use Bible dictionaries and commentaries. Look up passages which aren’t clear, cross-referencing verses with other similar verses using footnotes and when you aren’t certain, ask someone you trust who understands the Bible.
Relationship – The best way to fall in love with God’s Word is to get to better know it’s Author. It’s cliché now, but read it as a love letter written to you. If someone writes you a love letter, you’ll read it continually until you figure out what it means, and maybe even memorize parts of it along the way. If you can’t figure out something, you’ll consult the author.