Maybe you’re struggling to understand a particular passage of the Bible. Maybe you’re puzzled by the whole thing. Or maybe you just don’t know where to start, and you’re ready to phone a friend. Understanding the Bible can sometimes seem difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. Check out this excerpt from The Bible: Explained Bible Plan and discover some helpful tips for reading the Bible.
How do you actually, practically understand the Bible today? Maybe you’ve tried reading it and found yourself lost, confused, or unsure of how to interpret it. Maybe you don’t know how or where to begin. That’s okay!
First, know that there’s no right or wrong way to start reading God’s Word. He speaks to each of us a little differently. It’s freeing to experiment with how you read Scripture; it may take some time to figure out what works for you. But here are a few tips to help as you start reading God’s Word.
1. Incorporate prayer. Our time with God isn’t one-sided. God is a personal God who speaks to us when we listen for Him. God often uses His Word to give us direction, answer some questions, or help us understand Him. So invite God into your Bible time. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Consider praying before you get started and asking for help if you get stuck. You could pray something like, “God, reveal something new to me today.” Or “God, can you help me understand this part?” Or even, “God, how do I live out what I learned today?”
2. Know the purpose. God will reveal things to us through the Holy Spirit, but you might not have a huge revelation every time you read Scripture. That’s okay! It doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. The point of reading the Bible isn’t to check it off a list, make God love you, be a good Christian, or to answer every question you have in your life. The purpose of reading the Bible is getting to know God. So don’t put too many expectations on your time. Just think about it as a way to get to know God a little more today than you did yesterday.
3. Live it out. God doesn’t just want us to read His Word, but to put it into action in His world. So don’t just read the Bible—pay attention to how you can apply it in your life a little more each day! Let the truth, grace, and love revealed in His Word change your thinking, which will, in turn, change your words, your actions, and your relationships.
4. Talk about it with others. God speaks to us through His Word but also through His people. So when we talk to His people about His Word, we might find something we wouldn’t have discovered on our own. Churches have always been about reading Scripture together, so let’s follow the example of the early church and talk about the Bible with others. If you have questions, ask! Bottom line? Don’t feel like you have to figure out everything on your own.
5. Read it in context. Before you take one verse and make it your life motto—make sure you understand it in the context of the story. Sometimes a verse is something to learn from—not to live out—so you just want to be careful not to make it say what you’d like it to say instead of what it actually says.
6. Don’t tackle the whole thing at once. Don’t feel like you have to read the whole Bible at once. You can start small! Try doing a Bible Plan to lead you into Scripture. Try reading one shorter book of the Bible to start with, or a chapter a day. It’s better to read a short passage of Scripture and internalize it than to plow through a huge chunk you forget right away or don’t do anything with.
Those are just a few ideas to help as you get started, but mix it up and have fun with it! You could try memorizing it, journaling about it, making verse images with it, listening to it, etc. There are so many amazing ways to understand Scripture, so ask God for wisdom, ask others for help if you need it, and be patient with the process.