If you’ve ever wanted to study the Bible, but didn’t know how, you’re not alone. Every month, over half a million Americans search the phrase “bible study how to” on Youtube . If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time you probably think you should read the Bible. But a lot of us get hung up on how.
So, where do you start? Here are four practical Bible-reading helps:
Pick a Time
After my wife, Ali, and I got married, we decided we wanted to keep a weekly date night as one of the rhythms of our marriage. We started off well, but after a few months, we noticed it had been a few months since we had intentional time together. Sure, we spend time together when we weren’t at work, or watching old seasons of Survivor, but we weren’t really achieving our goal of building our marriage.
So what did we do?
We picked a day to be “date night.” It might sound dumb, but it helped us know when our date night was supposed to be and allowed us to plan around it. We aren’t perfect at it and sometimes things come up that change our plans, but knowing when we’ll go out helps us prioritize it the majority of the time. We have to schedule our priorities, not just hope they happen. We don’t find time, we have to make time.
The same is true for any habit you want to build — going to the gym, studying for a class, reading more books, and, in our case, reading the Scriptures. Find a consistent time of day where you can get alone with God and schedule it. Set a goal and make it a daily habit. It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning, but many people, including me, find it to be helpful. (Also, make coffee. No, that’s not optional. Coffee consumption is directly correlated to godliness 😉)
Find a Place
Identify a consistent, physical place where you can read without distraction. Maybe it’s in your car on the way to work, or the kitchen table, or the desk in your room. Make that THE place where you focus on getting in God’s Word. Over time, your mind will start to associate that place with the activity of reading the Bible, making it easier to keep the habit. Research on habit development shows that if you can associate an activity with a physical space, that space can act as a trigger for that activity.
Choose a Plan
There are 66 books in the Bible. How do you decide where to start? You need a plan that takes the “what should I read today?” pressure off of you. I prefer longer term plans that take me through the whole Bible, or larger chunks of the Bible, rather than a few verses on a topic.
My favorite resource for grasping the storyline of the Bible and understanding how it all fits together is the ReadScripture app, created by BibleProject. They’ve created animated explainer videos that break down the Bible in an engaging and easy-to-follow way. I’ve been through their plan twice and LOVED it. They also have several version of their plans on the YouVersion Bible app.
This year, the plan I’m using is called Discipleship Journal Book-at-a-Time and I like it so far. It alternates Old Testament and New Testament books, while spacing out the gospels throughout the year. It also usually has a short reading from Psalms or Proverbs each day. It’s also only a 6-day-a-week plan with one day off, in case you fall behind or want to take off Sunday. Find it HERE for print or HERE on YouVersion.
Keep at It (aka: Give Yourself Grace)
There will be days where you fall behind and get off-track. That’s okay. Just pick up where you left off. If your reading plan is broken down by the date, pick up on the current date.
Remember: the goal isn’t 100% completion; the goal is communion with God. We aren’t just completing a program, we’re becoming the types of people who spend time in God’s Word.
A life-long habit of reading the Scriptures won’t be built in a day, but the benefits will last you a lifetime.
“I’ve never met a strong Christian who does not meditate every day on the words of God. I’ve never met a weak Christian who does.”Ben Stuart