Many Christians start their year with a goal of reading the Bible regularly. They start out well, but before you know it, their schedule gets the best of them and that plan slowly falls by the wayside. I want to encourage you to take a spiritual checkup. If you have become inconsistent in reading the Bible, then make a recommitment today! It is one of the most important habits you can develop as a Christian.
Here are a few tips to help you read the Bible in a way that you can understand it:
- Choose a good translation.
Many people become discouraged because they don’t seem to understand the Bible. One of the big reasons is because they start with a translation of the Bible that uses outdated language. When the Bible was originally written, it was written in the common language of the people. The reason so many translations are available today is because language changes over time. A more modern, easier to understand translation enables you to understand what God is saying to you. Don’t be intimidated by the many choices. They all have the same meaning. The translation that I recommend for devotional reading is the New Living Translation. There are many other good translations that will help you understand what you read.
- Get in the right frame of mind.
Make sure that you remove as many distractions as possible. Turn off the television, the radio, and social media and find a quiet place to read. Make sure you are completely awake. You can even read out loud to help your comprehension. Start with a simple prayer like this: “Father, I am coming to you to ask for your help in understanding what you want to say to me today. Help me clear my mind and focus on you. Help me to obey what I read, to claim Your promises, to confess my sins and to change anything about my life that is displeasing to You. Help me as I read Your Word. Amen.”
- Select a good plan.
There are many wonderful reading plans. Start with one that is simple and short. You can move on to longer plans as you get into a regular routine
- Read slowly and think about what you read.
Don’t try to race through the Bible. Make sure to read and meditate on what you have read by asking yourself questions like the following:What is God saying to me? What do I need to change in my life? What do I need to believe? What sins do I need to forsake? How can I see Jesus in what I read? What does this say to me about God’s grace? This helps you to think about what you read.
- Choose the right time.
Choosing a time is very important for consistency in reading the Bible. You have a time to go to work, a time to go to church, a time to pay your bills and you need a time to read the Bible. I find it helpful to read in the morning before everything gets started with my day. If I do not read in the morning, I often get too busy during the day to read. If you are not a morning person, read during your lunch break, listen to the Bible on your way to work, or before you go to bed. The important thing is to choose a time and stick with it.
Make sure you are reasonable when selecting how much time to read the Bible. If you have never read the Bible and you work or go to school, you most likely will not follow through with a goal of an hour a day. But you can read fifteen minutes a day. If you read just fifteen minutes a day you can read the entire Bible in a little more than a year.
- Find the right place.
It is important to find a quiet place to read where you will not be disturbed. It could be in your living room or kitchen before everyone else gets up. It could be on your front porch in the morning or evening. It could be in your bedroom, out in the yard, or any other place where you can find fifteen minutes of solitude. If you try, you can find a place that will allow a few minutes of peace and quiet with God each day.
One of the most helpful tools I have found is the Bible App, also known as You Version. You can download it on your phone or on your computer. There are many different plans available in many different translations. The good news is that it is absolutely free! You can go to www.bible.com or download it from the App Store. Get started or re-started today. It will strengthen your faith and lift your spirits. Most of all, it will help you to focus on Jesus every day.