Based on what we believe the Bible teaches about itself, it makes perfect sense to make it a daily habit to read the Bible. This would be the bare minimum!
“Blessed is the man . . . [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.”
Bible reading should be a basic part of our daily time with God. So, what should we read? Anywhere in the Bible is great! Here are a few ideas and principles to keep in mind.
Expose yourself to the entire Bible.
We often gravitate to those portions of Scripture that we find easier to understand or that mean a lot to us. This is fine, but it is important to read and understand the epic story of God’s relationship to man throughout history and across the Old and New Covenants. It is important to expose ourselves to all the truth principles of Scripture. It is a good idea to make it your goal to systematically and repeatedly read through the entire Bible. There are many methods and resources for doing this.
- You can buy a one or two year Bible.
- You can find a program or app that leads you through the Bible in a certain period of time.
- You can decide not to put a time limit on it. Read through the Bible as slowly as you want.
- Instead of reading straight through, many people like to read different portions of the Scripture each day or week. For example, you might read a passage from the OT, from Psalms and Proverbs, and something from the NT. Most one year programs are designed this way.
Read entire Bible books.
The best way to understand the correct meaning of a sentence or verse is to understand how it fits into its paragraph, section, and book. You might decide to conduct a deep study of a particular book of the Bible.
Ask specific questions.
No matter what you are reading, be sure to make it personal and practical. This is not just a history lesson or an exploration of ideas. It is a personal encounter with God. It is an opportunity for God to speak to you with encouragement and direction. Here is a list of questions you might use as you read.
1. Summarize the story or teaching in 1 to 3 sentences.
2. What do I learn about the character and ways of God in these verses?
3. What example of obedience or faith do I find in these verses (or bad example)?
4. Do I have any questions that require further study?
5. How is God speaking to me through this Scripture?
6. What am I going to do in response to his leading?
7. Write or voice a prayer to God in response to what he has shown you.
Journal as you read the Bible.
Journaling is a wonderful activity and habit to develop, even when you are not reading the Bible. The main reason is that it helps you to develop, clarify, organize, and record your thoughts and experiences. It increases your awareness and intentionality in life. For these same reasons, it is helpful to journal as you are reading your Bible. You could use questions like those above to guide your journaling.
Study a topic.
Sometimes you might want to read the Bible in light of a particular question or problem you have. I recently wanted to study about fasting. I simply did a search for the words “fast” and “fasting” on esvbible.org. I read each verse that referred to fasting. I tried to find the main principle in each verse that related to fasting. Don’t forget how important it is to read the larger context of each verse in order to accurately understand it. Then I put all of these principles together to get an idea of what the Bible teaches on fasting in general.
Some topics will include several key words or ideas to find the relevant passages. For example, a study on prayer might include Matt 7:7-11, which does not include the word “prayer”! But the word “ask” appears five times.
Happy Bible reading!