Christians believe the Bible is God’s word, yet often we can struggle to read it consistently. There may be times we enjoy our Bible reading and find it a great encouragement, and other times we find it hard going. One reason is because parts of the Bible are harder to understand than others (2 Peter 3:16). However a bigger problem is that despite our desire to read it, we struggle with self-centred attitudes like pride, selfishness, laziness and unbelief (Galatians 5:17). Praying, reading the Bible, hearing it preached, and the encouragement of other Christians can all help us grow in this ongoing struggle. Another reason we struggle, is because we haven’t grasped the purpose of Bible reading, or worked consistently on a specific plan. Let’s briefly consider the questions of why to read the Bible and how.
Why read the Bible if you are a Christian?
1) Reading the Bible will help you to know, love, enjoy and delight in God more. We can only know God to the extent that he reveals himself. The Bible is the very words of God (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21) through which he reveals himself to us. If you love God, your delight in his word (Psalm 119:16, 47-48, 72, 97, 103) will grow because it helps you appreciate God more fully – including his righteousness, justice, power, faithfulness, grace, mercy and love.
2) Reading the Bible will help you grow in godliness
a) It will help you to pray. The Bible has many model prayers to help you, but also provides ‘fuel’ for your praying – as you read you become aware of things to thank, praise or ask God for, or confess to him. (Psalm 19:12-14, 119:7, Matthew 5:9-15, 9:38)
b) It will counsel (Psalm 119:24), guide (Psalm 19:9, 119:105) and instruct you (Romans 15:4), helping you grow in wisdom (Psalm 19:7b, 119:98-100) and understanding of God’s will (Colossians 1:9-11), so you can walk in his ways (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
c) It will warn you of spiritual dangers (Psalm 19:11), and help you overcome temptation (Psalm 119:11).
d) It will strengthen and encourage you in difficult times (Psalm 119:28, 50, 92, Romans 15:4).
e) It will help you see sinful attitudes of your heart more clearly (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrew 4:12), helping you turn from them and trust Christ more fully.
f) It will refresh and revive your faith in God. (Psalm 19:7a).
g) Since the Bible is ultimately about Jesus and the gospel (Luke 24:27, 44-47, John 5:39-40), reading it will help you grow in your understanding of God’s grace and mercy in Jesus, and so grow in gratitude and faith in Christ.
How to read the Bible:
1) Make a time. Aim for the same time every day if you can, even a short time of 15 minutes a day is a great start. Work at a time that enables you to focus on God’s word, whether it’s first thing in the morning, at night, during a lunch break or on the train to work.
2) Develop a plan. You don’t have to read the whole Bible in a year, you could plan to focus on a particular book of the Bible for a period, then move onto another one. Without some organisation or plan your reading is likely to be inconsistent. Here are some guides/plans I’ve found helpful at various times:
a) Presently I am using this simple One year Old and New Testament plan feel free to join me if you’d like.
b) Explore Bible-Reading Notes (For adults, Good Book Co. produces notes for other ages too)
c) Ten different Bible reading plans from Crossway.
e) Thirteen plans for various versions from bibleplan.org
g) Daily Reading Bible (only available in ESV)
h) If you’re struggling to read, or to supplement your reading, listen to the Bible in the car or on your iPod.
Presently I am using this simple One year Old and New Testament plan feel free to join me if you’d like.
3) Make time to meditate and pray. Read less if necessary so you can spend some time meditating. The reason we come away so cold from reading the word is, because we do not warm ourselves at the fire of meditation (Thomas Watson).
Meditation goes beyond hearing, reading, studying, and even memorizing as a means of taking in God’s Word. Meditation is deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities of Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application and prayer. (Donald Whitney) Learning to meditate on some of the truths we read, and not just skim over them helps transform us and grow our love for God and his word (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 119:27,97, Psalm 143:5).
 If you’re not a Christian: The Bible is the world’s best-selling book, translated into more languages than any other, it continues to have a huge impact across many cultures, and is worth reading just as literature. More significantly, through reading the Bible you can come to know God through Jesus for yourself (2 Timothy 3:15). One place you could begin reading is the biographies of Jesus – Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.
 Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 48.