Reading the Bible everyday can be one of the most fulfilling things you can do as a Christian. Yet many of us wrestle with making sense of this complex and ancient text. This post will give you helpful ways to get the most out of this life changing book. In this blog we’ll unpack five different approaches that help you figure out how to start reading the Bible.
What is The Bible?
The Bible is a collection of 66 different books written by approximately 40 different authors over 1500 years.
Together, these books tell the story of God’s plan for humanity and the world, from the creation story in Genesis right up until the end of times in the final book called Revelation.
The Bible includes song books, love poetry, law and instruction.
It also include biographies, letters of instruction, wisdom books, commandments and stories about what’s going to take place in the future. In a pivotal verse in his letter to Timothy, Paul reminds us that:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..”
The Bible is a powerful, life changing book that is absolutely relevant for our lives today.
The arc of God’s story
Even though there are 66 books telling individual stories, together they tell of God’s larger plan for humanity and His creation. The Bible tackles the big questions like the meaning and purpose of life, and what happens when we die.
With so many books to choose from and with so many styles of writing, where should we begin?
Let’s unpack five different approaches that help you figure out how to start reading the Bible.
1.Pick one book and become an expert
Let’s take the book of James in the New Testament for example. It’s short (five chapters) and fairly easy to read in one or two sittings. You may even choose to commit some verses to memory so you can think about them later.
By reading and re-reading the text, you can begin to see patterns and themes that will emerge. What is the book about? Who is the author writing too? What’s going on here?
It’s always worth remembering that the Bible was written for real people in real places. By looking into the history and the context of the book using Bible commentaries , you can get a sense of place and time as you read.
This helps you bring the reality of God’s word into your own situation.
2. Use the SOAP method
The SOAP method is a helpful framework for breaking down a passage or a verse of scripture. SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. By following the model stage by stage, we can find out what the Bible might be saying to us in our own faith journey.
Choose a Scripture
After choosing some verses or a chapter of the Bible, take a few to re-read several times. Then, ask yourself:
What do I observe?
What do I notice about this verse? Did anything stand out as interesting or unusual to me? What do I observe about the piece that I’ve been reading? It could be a turn of phrase, a promise or a miracle. Make a note of it. Then, ask yourself:
How does this apply to me?
Is there a promise here that I need to hold on to? Is there a command that I need to follow? Where is there a truth that I need to be reminded of? What practical difference should this make to my life? By answering these questions in your own words, you can plot a course of action. Real change takes place when we commit to take action on what we read.
And finally, finish your time with:
Ask for God’s Spirit to help you carry out what you’ve learnt using the SOAP model. You might pray something like this:
Thank You for Your word to me today. Help me to think about it as I go on with my life. Give me understanding and wisdom and help me to apply what I’ve learned. Give me a deep desire to get to know the Bible for myself.
3. Use a daily reading plan
Using a daily reading plan can guide you through a book of the Bible or a topic that you’re interested in. When you land on a Bible plan that you like the look of, be sure to choose one from a a trusted source like YouVersion or the GlorifyApp.
4. Read a little bit every day
It’s worth remembering that the Bible as we know it was not originally written in chapters and verses. These were added later.
Nevertheless, they are a helpful addition in breaking down the whole Bible into bitesized chunks. And they allow us to break the teachings of Jesus, for example, into soundbites that we can think about as we go through our day. It’s helpful to think deeply about a verse or two at one time so that we don’t get overwhelmed or forget what we’ve read. The Bible calls this meditation.
The Bible is full of encouragement to meditate, or actively think about the things we read in its pages. When we give ourselves to the study of this book and ask God to give us understanding by His Holy Spirit, He promises to lead us into “all truth” and guide us into life-giving ways.
5. Join a small group or Bible study
Group Bible studies can be a great place to learn and ask questions. The early church would have been used to reading the Scriptures together and then discussing what they’d heard in groups. No doubt they would have been asking many of the same questions that you and I have today.
Maybe your church has a small group or life group that you could join? Reading the Bible in a group allows you to see and hear other peoples perspective and even see the impact in each others’ lives. It can be a great way to ask questions and pray for each other when you need support too.
If you found this blog helpful, check out our other helpful content via the GlorifyApp.