Reading the Bible is an endless act of humbling yourself by laying down your lies, in order to seek a truth that could go on without you. Author-blogger extraordinaire, Hannah Brencher, said that, not me. No truer words have been said.
A rediscovery of my faith in 2011 brought me to the saving pages of the Bible. I’ve heard the words salvation and grace innumerable times without them pierce through my heart. They were familiar, comforting ideas that were only convenient when I needed them. Understanding the insurmountable love and sovereign character of God through stories, songs, and meditations made Him alive in me. He meets me in my mess and engages in every insignificant part of my life.
The Bible has guided me through unwanted trips to the emergency room, a broken and contrite heart (He shall not despise), a hundred rejection e-mails, countless of depressive episodes, and the list goes on. In moments, even seasons, when I’m stubbornly bent on keeping my pride than my relationships, when I’d rather run away from circumstances than confront it, words of wonder rebuke and humble me. Knowing God’s words by letting it speak to me, day by day, makes it the unchanging compass for my life – leading me closer to His will.
Why read the Bible?
More than anything, it is the foundation of a personal, love-filled relationship with my Maker, my Father, my Lover, and my Friend. It shatters whatever wrong image I have of God and corrects it – because what need do I have for a God who always agrees with me? Through tear-stained pages – marked by almost indecipherable hand-written notes – it points me to exactly where I need it, at a specific, God-designed season of my life. Words jump out and lead its way to my hardened heart.
This, I want for you, too. These words aren’t for the holy; they’re for the sick, the struggling, the faithless.
How should I read the Bible?
There is no perfect way to read the Bible; it doesn’t exist. I’ve been reading it for the past 5 years, and I continue to learn. Having these habits help me study the Word of God with a heart open to wisdom and rebuke. It’s an endless well of truth pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross – making a way for us to finally be right with God. Beginner or not, I share these available tips and resources I use that can help you find a personal and creative routine for your quiet time. I pray that this may lead you to experience God even more.
They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever. (Jeremiah 32:38-39)
Where do I begin?
- Find a translation that works for you.
If I were to discuss the differences of every single Bible translation, you’d be here forever. This Bible Translation Guide by Mardel is pretty easy to understand. You can also compare translations using Bible Study Tools. Let these help narrow down your search. Personally, I recommend the New Living Translation (NLT), New International Version (NIV), or the English Standard Version (ESV) for translations that are accurate and can easily be understood. I started with NIV, which many churches still use, and at present alternate between an ESV Global Study Bible and a compact NLT Bible.
- Get a hard copy of the Bible and download a Bible app.
I suggest getting a small, compact Bible you can bring with you anywhere. I prefer a physical Bible over an app because you can highlight the verses (pretty old school) and take down notes in it. It’s also less distracting. It’s best to have a Study Bible to avoid misinterpreting passages. As alive as these words are today, these were written during different times. By immersing ourselves deeply in context – cultural and historic background – this helps break our misconceptions and prejudices. Purchase these in Christian bookstores like OMF Lit or in churches for a cheaper price but you can also get copies from your local bookstore.
For phones, tablets, and computers, you can download YouVersion. I also love Glo Bible because of its sleek design. Offline versions are available for download, which is best when you want to search for verses and passages on the go. There are many available online study tools and devotionals, too. It’s always a good idea to have a Bible with you, may this be a physical copy or an app.
Read: Why I’m Using A Physical Copy of the Bible Again via Crossroads
- Create a daily routine.
I am definitely a night person. This means, I read the Bible before I sleep. I also read a daily devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries on my daily commute home. When are you most awake, where your heart can be fully open to the Word of God? Find a special spot at home, in school, or in the office where you can ponder and allot time – even 15 minutes – every day. Stay away from things that can distract you. To help me focus, I listen to instrumental music from Dustin O’ Halloran or worship music from Hillsong, Bethel, United Pursuit, etc. Regardless of emotions, which is the weakest basis of faith, a routine helps us in following through with our Bible reading. It instills discipline in us until it eventually becomes part of our daily lives.
- Start with the Psalms.
Unless you’re doing a reading plan, a good introduction to the Bible, most especially for beginners, are the Psalms. This gives a glimpse of man’s relationship with God and reveals his deep need for Him. It’s relatable, straightforward, and not intimidating. From this, you can continue on with the New Testament, specifically the Gospels, with pretty remarkable accounts of Jesus’ life on earth. It’s endlessly humbling having a God who reached out from Heaven to reach us and become human – yet completely free of sin. I also really love Job, Ecclesiastes, and Isaiah.
Read: How to Start Reading the Bible via Christianity Today
- Most importantly, pray before opening your Bible.
This book is unlike any other; it’s holy and God-breathed. It’s only recently when I started praying before I opened my Bible. I pray for the Holy Spirit to open my heart and reveal truth to me. It’s a simple act that completely transforms my Bible reading. From this, He prepares me to do His good work in and through me. We should also give praise for the freedom to read the Bible because there are so many people who don’t have access to it or are ostracized for doing so in many nations.
Read: Why Is My Delight in God So Short Lived? via Desiring God
I’m reading the Bible…now what?
- Have a devotional.
Aside from a Bible Reading Plan – readily available in Bible apps, Christian websites, and Churches – there are plenty of online resources that can help you personalize your quiet time. My go-to websites are Proverbs 31 Ministries and She Reads Truth. These are, of course, targeted towards women. Fun fact, these organizations were actually what pushed me to create a new blog. Local favorite, Olivia Women, and bloggers, Joy Mendoza and Carla Peralejo-Bonifacio, also have inspirational, Scripture-breathed entries I love reading from time to time. (Hopefully, I can relate to their marriage-related entries soon – haha, funny.) For more challenging articles, Desiring God is great for college students and young adults. Their daily devotional, Solid Joys, is also available for app download. You can even have an alarm to remind you to read the material daily!
- Read books.
I’m such a bookworm! I enjoy reading Christian books, not only to inspire and encourage me, but also to teach me about Scripture. Some of my favorites happen to be Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by Stasi and John Eldredge, Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst, Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick, Live, Love, Lead by Brian Houston, and The Signature Classics by the one and only C.S. Lewis.
- Watch messages or listen to podcasts.
I watch Elevation Church messages (on YouTube) by Steven Furtick, my favorite pastor, at least once a week. Watching messages online is such a convenient and fun way to learn about stories from the Bible since pastors and speakers use a verse or a passage as the main focus of a message. Now, a cautionary warning: you may use these references to help you cultivate your faith but it shouldn’t take the place of reading the Bible. I’m guilty of this. Don’t replace a few verses present in a good book or a devotional for the actual act of opening your Bible.
How can I make it fun?
- Personalize your Bible.
Decorate it with washi tape and stickers (mine are from my Ban.do 2017 Agenda). Use colored pens to jot down notes and highlighters to help you remember verses that speak to you. Check out Bible Journaling PH for Bibles specifically designed for note-taking.
- Have a faith journal.
A faith journal (mine is the kikki.K Thankful Journal) is an excellent way to personalize your daily Bible reading. Write down what God impressed upon your heart during your quiet time. Note your favorite verses or some unforgettable points from a devotional or an article. This also allows you to see God’s faithfulness and encourages you during difficult seasons of your life.
- Join a Bible study group.
God designed us for community. Having a community to share your journey with is essential for your growth. We need friends we trust and can be vulnerable to. Learning about the Bible is even more enjoyable with other people. Being accountable to each other helps us to apply the Bible in our lives. Let these words not be dead but be alive in and through us.
How do you read your Bible? Any creative ways you personalize your quiet time? I’d love to know and share with everyone else! Comment below! ✨