Reading the Bible is not always easy. For some people, just starting to read the Bible can be scary, I know it was for me. Many struggle with understanding what they just read, some find it boring, or even confusing. But reading the Bible can be fun and definitely encouraging. You don’t need to be a scholar to understand it; you just need the right approach for YOU and some tips on how to read it effectively. After all, this isn’t just any book— it is God speaking to us! Here are 7 Tips for Reading the Bible for Beginners:
Try different bible translations
If you’re only reading one translation of the Bible, you’re really only reading one-tenth of the Bible. Think how far back the bible really goes, and how many different people have translated it. There are so many different translations available that you can easily read a few. For example, if you’re reading the New International Version (NIV), try reading the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and the Contemporary English Version (CEV). I personally go back and forth between NASB, NIV, and KJV King James Version).
You may find that one version resonates with you more than the others. Oh and if you have aging eyes (like myself) they even have the big print bibles. (Most of my bible quotes on this blog will be from The New American Standard Bible, aka NASB)
Find a Bible you like and stick with it
If you’re trying out different Bibles and you don’t have one that you can call your own, you might feel weird reading it. If you don’t have a Bible that you feel connected to, you can’t really get into it. Bella (my 19 yr old) had a bible that was beautiful but she barely used it, got her another that gives her space to write in it and she takes it everywhere with her. You need to feel 100% comfortable with your bible.
So find a Bible that you like and that feels right for you. One that you can read and understand. You can choose to use a leather (or imitation leather) Bible, like a NIV Zondervan leather Bible, or something that’s smaller, like the ESV Study Bible. You can also choose to use an app on your smartphone or tablet. The point is that you need to have a Bible or Bible app that feels right to you so that you can fully engage with it. Remember, you are wanting to show your children that you love your bible just as much as them. If you would pick out a bible just for your child, why wouldn’t you do the same for yourself?
- Find a translation you understand
- The material you like (leather, hardcover, softcover, etc)
- Print you like or need to have (Big print)
- Style (illustrated bible, plain text, digital)
Make reading the bible a habit
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a habit takes 21 days to form. Reading the Bible isn’t something you do once in a while; it’s something you should try doing every day. If you want to get the most out of reading the Bible, you need to make it a daily habit. This is one of the easiest ways to grow your faith.
If you can, try to read the Bible first thing in the morning. This will help set you up for the day ahead. For me, I have to read the bible after I get the kids on the bus. But that is the time between myself and God, I can also pray and just fall into the word with no interruptions.
You can also read the Bible before you go to bed; this will help you to wind down from the day’s activities. If you have kids, try to read the Bible with them. This will help them to engage with the Bible and make it more relevant to their lives, you can make this a family bible reading time.
Bible Study Tools You Might Want to add
Even if you find your perfect bible, there will be times you wish you had more info. It might be a word you are curious if it may have meant something else, a map you wish you had to see where a journey took place, etc.
- Bible dictionary
- Bible characters reference guide (Who was who in the bible and where they are found in the bible)
- Bible Maps (showing the journeys they went on)
- Bible commentary (thoughts from how others took the scriptures)
- Bible Concordance (different languages, where the word is found in the bible and can be alphabetical or by topic)
- Interlinear Bible (different languages all on the same page)
Use a Bible Journal to take notes
While reading the Bible, you may come across something that really resonates with you or you may have a question that you want to answer. If you don’t take notes while you’re reading the Bible, you’ll probably forget them or never come back to them. Make sure you always have a Bible journal or bible notebook (You can use a normal spiral notebook) handy so that you can write down your thoughts and questions as you come across them. You don’t have to be fancy when taking notes; just write down your thoughts and questions as they come to you.
What part of the bible do you want to begin reading?
There are many parts of the Bible that you can begin reading. You can start with the first book of the Bible, Genesis. You can also start with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John). Starting in the Gospels will immediately take you from Jesus’ birth to his death.
Or you can start with the Psalms, which are the songs of the Bible (Bella reads Psalms & Proverbs daily). You can also start with the letters of Paul or the Book of John.
There are so many different ways to begin reading the Bible. It’s really up to you to decide where to begin. You don’t need to start at the beginning of the Bible to get something out of it. There are some that read the bible by topic, while others start it from the New Testament. I’ve even done summer reading starting with the shortest books of the bible first (this helped encourage my kids) because they read a bunch in the first few weeks.
I don’t believe there is a wrong way to read the bible. I do advise you to pray to God every day before you open it up. Ask Him to show you where to begin or to lead your path that day.
Join a bible study group
You can also engage with other people who are reading the Bible. You can do this by joining a bible study group with some friends or co-workers. You can also do this online or in person. I love using zoom or Facebook. Reading the Bible with others can help you to understand the Bible more and it can also help you to keep on track with your Bible reading as you have someone else to keep you accountable. It will also help you see a different perspective that you might not have seen before.
If you can’t find a bible study group you could always purchase bible studies, there are so many to choose from. Bible studies that are done by the bible characters or even topics. There is something for everyone and all the different seasons of your life. Some of my favorites are Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, and Lisa TerKeurst.
Reading the Bible is an important part of being a Christian. It is God speaking to us through stories. Reading the Bible isn’t easy for everyone, but there are ways to make it easier. You can try different translations, find a Bible you like and stick with it, make reading the bible a habit, and use a Bible journal to take notes. You can also join a bible study group or do your reading online. No matter where or how you start reading the Bible, it’s important to keep going so you can understand God’s word better. This is one of the best ways to grow closer to God.