For the majority of my life, I wondered what the Bible was really all about but was too intimidated to actually read it. Every time I had picked it up in the past, I was overwhelmed, confused, and honestly a little bored. I didn’t get it. I also wasn’t sure how this book could relate to my life today. But still, there was this little voice in my head, saying, “You must try harder to read it”, “You must not quit”. Over the past five years, I decided to dive into the Bible and try my best to not only understand it but also to relate its teachings to my life. I am so grateful I did! If you, like me, are curious about this most beloved book you will definitely want to read on to find my top 7 tips for reading the Bible.
Let’s be honest, reading the Bible at first is not easy—especially with no direction or help. That is why I want to share a few things that have really helped me over the last five years to not only begin to read the Bible but also to understand it and to treasure it.
#1- Purchase a study Bible.
If you do not have a study Bible at home, I highly recommend getting one. A study Bible will not only include the books of the Bible, but it will also include overviews, themes, maps, personality profiles, cross-references, textual notes, and more. There are a ton of different ones out there. I personally have the Life Application Study Bible, NIV version and I love it. Linking it here. https://amzn.to/3oAuyJF
Also, there are many different translations of the Bible available. You will want to pick the right one for you! This article gives a bit of information regarding things to consider when choosing the version you would like to purchase and read. https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/five-tips-for-picking-the-best-bible-translation/
#2- Ask Christian friends or Find Christian friends to help you!
One of the best things you can do is to ask a Christian friend, whom you know understands the Bible to help you. They can give suggestions, guide you and answer your questions. I have gone to countless Christian friends, who I know are way ahead of me in their Christian journey, and every single one of them has gone above and beyond to help me. If you don’t have a friend like this—reach out to me! I will help you as best I can or find someone who can.
#3- Follow a Bible Reading Plan
There are tons of Bible Reading Plans out there! A great resource, that I use, is a free app on my phone called Holy Bible
It looks like this in the app store:
I am doing a plan through this app right now that has me reading the entire Bible within a year. There, you can find multiple plans for new Bible readers. There are also plans that help you read the Bible through a lens that is most applicable to you. For instance, maybe you want to know how the Bible can help you with your anxiety, or at work, or in your marriage—the Holy Bible app has a plan for you.
Using a plan gives you structure and makes it seem less overwhelming. Each day, you spend some time in the word, and little by little, it becomes easier and more familiar.
#4- Join a Bible Study
Although reading the Bible on your own is great, reading it with others will most definitely further your knowledge and understanding. Oftentimes, churches will allow you to join their Bible studies without being a member of their church. I know that in my community, Elmbrook Church lets anyone join their studies. https://www.elmbrook.org/ministries/life-groups/ This is where I do my study and the women I have met there are knowledgeable, welcoming, and helpful. I have never felt judged for what I do not know or do not understand. They are patient with me and have taught me so much. They are my mentors from whom I have learned an immeasurable amount.
#5 Mark up your Bible
Do not be afraid to write in your study Bible! This is crucial. As you study, underline passages that mean something to you or passages you do not understand and want to learn more about. Write actual notes in the columns to help you remember the information gleaned from the verse or verses. There are lots of fun tools out there to help you do this. I simply use Bible pens and highlighters. Since Bible pages tend to be thin, you will not want to use regular highlighters on them. They will just bleed through the page. Here are some highlighters that are popular for Bible use. https://amzn.to/3wom0Zc
#6 Read this Book! The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus
A friend recently shared this book with me and how I wish I had known about it sooner! It truly summarizes the Bible in a concise and very readable way. It is an excellent pre-cursor or accompaniment to studying the Bible. After reading her copy, I ended up purchasing my own so I could write in it and make my own notes. I plan to re-read this book over and over again. I cannot recommend it enough. https://amzn.to/3hD4I6p
#7 Download this podcast. The Bible Recap
If you read your Bible and want further explanation of it, The Bible Recap is a sound source to turn to. Each podcast is only 6-9 minutes long but boy does it pack a punch! Tara Leigh Cobble, who is your host, really gives you nuggets to think about in each episode. I am doing her Bible Study plan right now on the Holy Bible app (the same one I mentioned above that has me reading the Bible in a year). I read the passages assigned each day in the plan and then finish each reading by listening to her podcast which correlates to those verses.
I hope my top 7 tips for reading the Bible will help get you started on your own life-changing journey. It is one you will not regret—I promise! All of a sudden, you will realize you know who Noah really was and other main characters like Adam, Abraham, Job, Moses, David, Paul, and most importantly Jesus. You will meet fascinating women along the way too. Of course Mary, but also Ruth, Rahab, Esther, Deborah, and more. Things will begin to make sense, and you will feel more secure in your faith. You will suddenly turn to scripture when you are feeling low and you will turn to scripture in celebration. Most importantly, your understanding of the Trinity will bloom and you will find your relationship with God that much better. It truly is a joy that cannot be explained. It is one you need to find out for yourself.
Friends- It is my greatest hope that you take the leap today and decide to give the Bible a try. I am here for you too, so do not hesitate to reach out! I will be your biggest cheerleader and will be praying for you!