The purpose of this article is to provide advice that can enhance your reading of Scripture in 2023. Oh what a treasure chest of spiritual riches God has placed at our fingertips! Now more than ever, may the Word be sweeter than honey and more precious than gold.
Here are seven tips to help you read the Bible this year.
TIP #1: Read the Bible Like Any Other BookMy first suggestion is to embrace what I call “A Better Way to Read the Bible.” Simply put, a better way to read the Bible is to read it like any other book, which means we read the whole thing. Think about the last time you read a book that you truly enjoyed and from which you benefitted greatly. Did you read it all, or just a portion? Did you read only a few sections, or did you start at the beginning and go all the way to the end. I’m stating the obvious, but to truly understand a book, isn’t it best to read it in its entirety?
TIP #2: Read the Bible Like No Other BookMy second suggestion is to pray… before, during and after you read the Bible. Here’s one of my favorite Bible reading prayers: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18). The word “law” can mean “instruction” or “teaching.” The Word of God, like no other book, contains the instruction and teaching of God. While the Bible is to be read like any other book, it is also to be read like no other book, because there is no other book like the Bible. It is the only book written by God, and we need His supernatural help to understand it.
TIP #3: Get the Big PictureWhen reading the Bible, always keep in mind what Jen Wilkin states so succinctly, “The Bible is a book about God.” I take this to mean that the Bible is primarily or mainly about God. It is His autobiography. Until just a few years ago, this was a new idea for me and a hard pill to swallow, so I know it can come as a surprise to some. But like life itself, the Bible is not primarily about us. Sure, we are there, too, and the Bible has much to say about you and me. But we’re not the focus. God is. Therefore, every time you read the Bible, ask the question, “What does this passage teach about God (Father, Son and Spirit)?” And then ask, “What is my response to this teaching about God?”
TIP #4: Write Down Your ThoughtsWrite down your answers to those two questions in Tip #3. Maintain a Bible Reading Journal. This doesn’t have to be fancy. Record your thoughts in a word processing document or a spiral notebook. I always learn and retain more when I interact with the material I’m reading. Don’t just read and pray. Whenever possible: Read, pray and write. Even better: Pray, Read, Pray, Write, and Pray.
TIP #5: Make a Commitment to Read the Whole Bible (or at least the New Testament)Yes, I’m circling back to Tip #1 – to understand any book, it is best to read the whole thing. Resources abound to help you do this. Bible Reading Plans are a good place to start, so search online and find one that you like. Then… Go For It! By the grace of God and for the glory of God, it can be done.
Here’s how I’ve been approaching the task to read the whole Bible. For several years I’ve been reading the entire New Testament in a year. This can be done by reading one chapter a day, five days a week. Then, every two or three years, I read both the Old Testament and the New Testament in a year. This is how I’ve been doing it for the past 15 years, and it has worked well for me.
If you’re new to the Bible or if reading the entire Book seems too intimidating right now, why not start with the New Testament? Eventually, though, you’ll want to read both Testaments; your understanding of the New Testament will skyrocket to a new level when you read and understand the Old Testament. And when was the last time you read only the last 25% of a book?
TIP #6: Get Help to Understand What You ReadRegardless of how you read it, take advantage of the many wonderful resources that can aid in your understanding of the Bible. God has given the Church many gifts. One of those gifts is knowledgeable Bible teachers who have spent years studying the Bible so they can help God’s people to comprehend it.
The Bible is both one Book and a Book of Books. As you read through the Bible, take time to get the big picture of each individual book. A good study Bible should have an introduction and an outline of each book, which you would do well to read and use to navigate that particular book. Another important aspect of the Bible is the variety of literary genres which are found in Scripture. Again, find a study Bible to help you learn what these genres are and how they differ.
TIP #7: Search Your Heart for the Answer to This Huge QuestionFinally, let’s not forget the “Why” question. You’re reading this article because you want to read the Bible. That is such a good thing, or so it would seem. But why? What is your motive? That is such an important question. It is a matter of life and death. I think about this a lot because I know that my reasons for reading the Bible have not always been pure.
How about you? How do you answer the question, “Why do I want to read the Bible?” The true believer reads the Word of God primarily to know and glorify the God of the Word. There is a huge difference between reading for the purpose of knowing about God and reading in order to know God. May the latter be your motive, not the former.
Leave a Reply