How You Can Begin Reading the Bible Today

If you are a spiritual seeker or a Jesus follower, Bible reading is basic. But life can be busy and we either forget or don’t seem to have the time to read as we’d like.

Here’s a few suggestions to help you read the Bible more this year.

First, decide what you’d like to do, and why.

Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net by adamr
Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net by adamr

Would you like to read a few minutes a day? Is listening to the Bible on your daily walk or commute more your style?  Is there something you’d like to know or understand? Is there a question you’d like to pursue? Why are you doing this? Answering questions like these will help guide your Bible reading.

Depending on your answers to the “why” questions, make a little plan for your reading. This does not need to take long or be complicated. I’ve set out two options for you. Option A is for those who despise set plans and like to make their own roads. Option B is for those who appreciate a little guidance on the journey.

Option A: Focus on some “main” books.

If you are new to the Bible, I always suggest starting with one of the Jesus stories (called gospels). There are four of them–Matthew, Mark, Luke and John–and you can find them at the start of the New Testament (see any Bible’s table of contents). If it’s been awhile since you’ve read the Bible, I also recommend starting with one of the gospels. Why? Because the story of the Bible culminates in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The Jesus stories will help orient you (or re-orient you) to the central character and plot of the whole Bible.

But maybe you’ve been reading the gospels and are ready to explore further. I’d suggest a little Bible tour, starting with Genesis and Exodus, Deuteronomy, then skipping over to read some Psalms (pick 15 or so) and then Proverbs (read the first few chapters, then just jump around randomly). Continue reading with 1 and 2 Chronicles and the prophet Daniel.  Moving over the the New Testament, read Luke and Acts (they are companion volumes), Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, Hebrews, James, 1 John and Revelation. If you break that up into three chapters a day, you can complete this whistle-stop tour in under four months.

Does that seem too complicated? Try Option B.

Option B: Pick a ready-made plan that works for you.

Some of you like the idea of carving your own path through the snow. Others prefer a little guidance, and there is so much help available. You Version has brought together a variety of Bible reading plans. You can read them on your tablet, phone, computer or just follow along in an old-fashioned, handheld Bible. I suggest clicking on “Whole Bible” or “Partial Bible” in the left sidebar, and choosing a plan that suits your goals or your time frame. You can read Luke in 12 days, or read all the Jesus stories in a month. Others might try reading the Psalms or Proverbs in 30 days a piece. Or you can do what many have done, and in about 15 minutes a day, read through the whole Bible in one year. (You can purchase a hard copy of the One Year Bible here.) Pick a path and try something out. And many of them feature audio, popular for many who are on the go or want to listen to the Bible while driving, walking or working around the house.

Reading the Bible does not need to be complicated. Nor does it require hours of study per day.  I hope you can experience the joy, pleasure and insight that comes from the simple, regular reading of the Scripture.

Is there a Bible reading plan or method that has helped you?

What do you find most debilitating when it comes to reading the Bible?

Three Easy Steps to Start Reading the Bible

1. Get one.

2. Open it.

3. Start reading.

Okay, maybe a little more direction would be handy. But seriously, it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. Oddly enough, though, we often make Bible reading more mysterious than it is, and then leave it on the shelf and never start reading.

My advice? Just start. You’ll be surprised at what you find.  A friend of mine recently started reading the Bible for the first time. Her discovery? The Bible is way more interesting than she expected it to be, the stories about Jesus intrigue her, and she is (surprise!) enjoying it. She is eager to continue.

That can be true for you, too.

Just Start Reading
Just Start Reading

Here’s three more steps you can take to enhance your Bible reading experience.

1. Start with a story about Jesus.  All Christians will agree that Jesus is the central figure of the Bible, so why not start with him? And you’ve got four options: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, located right at the beginning of the New Testament (see Table of Contents in any Bible). Extra tip: Use a modern translation, such as the New Living Translation (NLT) or the New International Version (NIV). It’ll be easier to understand than Grandma’s old King James Version.

2. Read a natural section and ask: What are these stories telling me about Jesus? And what do I think about what they are telling me about Jesus? Pay attention to how you respond to these Jesus stories. What intrigues you? What bugs you?

3. Find a good friend with whom you can discuss what you are reading. The Bible was never meant to be read alone. It was meant to be taken out in the daylight–read and discussed openly.

That’s it. Really.

Let me know what you discover.

PS. As a bonus, check out YouVersion, a great Bible App for your tablet or smart phone. You can even listen to some of the available translations, which is a great way of getting into the Bible.