How to Get the Most Out of Reading the Bible – Really
Do you ever think “I really should read the Bible” but you don’t know where to start? Ever start, but then get sidetracked and stop? Ever plan on picking up the Bible, but somehow get distracted and forget?
You aren’t the only one.
The past two weekends I’ve had the privilege of speaking to women from Indiana to Northern California (welcome new friends!). But no matter where you’re from, what your age or what your spiritual background, sometimes reading the Bible can just be stinkin’ hard.
But worth every effort.
Jesus put it this way: “Is anything worth more than you soul?” (Mark 8:37)
So in the hopes of giving you some practical tools to help you take care of your soul, I’m including my own personal tips–the stuff I really do–when I pick up my Bible each day. I hope these things help you as much as they have helped me!
How to Spend Time with God in His Word
1. Pick a book of the Bible and work your way through it.
If you are anything like me, if you don’t have a Bible reading plan, you’ll waste precious minutes thumbing through the Bible, never quite landing. Instead, pick one book of the Bible and read a little each day, one chapter, perhaps. If you are new to the Bible, start with the book of John, which is the story of Jesus and was written to help us believe. Then move on to the other gospels – Matthew, Mark or Luke. Philippians, Ephesians and Colossians provide practical encouragement for living the Christian life. Romans is full of great doctrine. Genesis tells us how it all began. Work your way through one book at a time, and you’ll never find yourself fumbling for where to read again.
2. Commit to reading a few minutes each day.
Getting God’s word into your life doesn’t have to take long. Start small—five or ten minutes is better than none. Sometimes less is more, especially when reading less means you’ll actually remember more.
3. Pray this before you begin….
What’s the “this”, I’m referring to? It’s a simple prayer I pray before I read the Bible each day, and it’s revolutionized my time with God: “Lord, if you were here with me right now (and You are, because You are everywhere), what would You say to me today?” When I pray this prayer, I open my heart to allow God’s word to be personal to me; to my life, my circumstances, my relationships, my questions, my concerns, my heartaches, my needs.
4. Read until a verse resonates with you, then stop.
Getting God’s word” in”, means allowing God’s word to penetrate your thoughts and perspectives. When a verse resonates with you—when a verse relates to something you are going through, something you’ve been grappling with or something you need—God is speaking to you. Pause. Let it sink in. To help remember and further meditate on what God is saying to you, write the verse down, word for word. This practice has cemented God’s word into my thoughts in countless ways. Sometimes I keep the verse with me throughout the day. Sometimes I ask God to help me remember it, when I need it. Sometimes I memorize it. Be intentional about getting God’s word into your thoughts and you’ll soon see your relationship with God not merely survive, but thrive.
5. Ask Questions
Because reading the Bible is about growing in my love relationship with God, I want to understand fully what God wants to say to me each day. To help me, I take the passage of scripture I’ve read and ask these simple questions:
1. God, what do You want me to know about You? About Myself? About my Circumstances?
2. God, what do You want me to feel?
3. God, what do You want me to do?
Not every Bible verse will have something for you to know, feel and do, but many will. The Bible is filled with examples to learn from, promises to claim and commands to follow. These were written to give us the hope and the help we need to follow God in our real, everyday lives.
Now it’s your turn. Pick a passage of scripture (suggestions: John 1, Romans 8:26-39, Psalm 103, Psalm 145, Philippians 4:4-9, Psalm 27, Psalm 86), and follow the 5 steps I’ve outlined above. Use the space below to record your thoughts. God wants to talk with you and love on you through His Word if you’ll pause long enough to listen.
More than a Bible teacher, Donna is a self-described Bible explainer. A colorful storyteller who combines Biblical truth with real-life anecdotes, her messages not only help listeners understand God’s Word, but most important, grasp how to live it out in real life.