If you’re not a Christian: The Bible is the world’s best-selling book, translated into more languages than any other. Despite various attempts to ban, burn and ridicule it, the Bible’s endurance, transforming power, clarity, and acceptance by a growing number of people across so many cultures reinforce its claim to be the very word of God. The Bible is worth reading just for its value 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.
If you are a Christian: You may believe the Bible is God’s word, yet struggle to read it consistently. This is because of the internal spiritual battle we face (Galatians 5:17), but also because we don’t properly grasp the purpose of Bible reading, or work on how to do it: Let’s briefly consider why we should read the Bible and how:
Why read the Bible?
1) Reading the Bible will help you to know, love, and delight in God more. 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 by providing model prayers like Psalms and Jesus’ and Paul’s prayers. Also as you read you become aware of things to thank, praise, 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 10-15 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. 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.
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)