You decided to spend more time with the Lord through Bible reading. Your pastor (or your small group leader) shared with you the benefits of having a regular devotion. But as soon as you opened your Bible, the words and phrases seem to overwhelm you. “These words and names and oracles are beyond me!” you whispered. I know how it feels! So, in this blog, let me share few tips on how you can break down the barriers in preparation for effective Bible reading.
Treat your Bible as special and authoritative
Before we begin, it is important to remember that what’s written in the Bible is not just an ordinary literary work. It is the very word of God. It is not meant just to be informative but transformative. So, in order to get the most out of your Bible reading, you need to establish that it is “living and active” and is “God-breathed” (Note: the contents, not the physical, tangible book). Treating it as you would a textbook or history book would render it’s transforming power of little use to you.It is important to remember that what’s written in the Bible is not just an ordinary literary work. It is the very word of God. It is not meant just to be informative but transformative. Click To Tweet
Secure a translation you are comfortable with
There are numerous Bible translations available today. Choose what you think speaks to you well. Some were translated word-for-word such as NASB, NKJV and ESV, others were translated thought-for-thought such as NIV and NLT, and there are also paraphrased versions such as MSG. I believe there should be no ranking as to which version is more authoritative, but in case of doubt, you may refer to the translators’ notes in your Bible. Bottomline is, it’s a matter of preference. Choose which version resonates to you most.
As much as possible use a physical Bible
Digital bibles may be easily accessible and convenient to use, but reading from a physical Bible gives more benefits: you can write on it, bookmark it and highlight on it, and most importantly – no computer screen glare. Another reason to read from a physical Bible is to avoid unnecessary distractions. Physical Bibles offer no notifications, no alert tones, and no pop-up ads. Reading from a physical Bible helps your mind to be more focused and productive and effective.
Write down your thoughts, questions and learning
Bible reading is meant to be interactive – between you and the Lord. As the Word ministers to you, take note of everything that the Lord impresses you. Keep a journal for your learnings, questions and prayers that come to your mind as you read your Bible. Alternatively, you may write your thoughts directly on your Bible, even creatively, if you want! Journaling reinforces the Bible concepts into your memory as you try to engage with what you have just read.Bible reading is meant to be interactive – between you and the Lord. Click To Tweet
Process your learning with your friends and mentors
Sometimes, you will encounter portions from the Bible that you might not understand. When this happens, it helps to consult friends and mentors about the passage under study. Their opinions will not just help you understand what you’re reading, but will also widen your perspective as they share their take and reflection on the passage.
Seek the help of the Holy Spirit
Since the Bible is God’s Word and is a spiritual book, the Holy Spirit plays an important role in helping us understand and digest what we read. Before you begin reading, in fact even while you are reading from the Bible, pray for wisdom and enlightenment that you see more than just the printed words, but the heart of God itself. Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you and speak to you the very intention of the passage. In order for our Bible reading to be effective, it should be done prayerfully and expectantly.Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you and speak to you the very intention of the passage. In order for our Bible reading to be effective, it should be done prayerfully and expectantly. Click To Tweet
These are just some tips on how you can break down the overwhelming barriers of Bible reading. It may seem difficult at first, but once you take a sip of the Word, once you turn your eyes and ears to the Lord, you will find out that Bible reading need not be frightening. It is in fact an enjoyable, life-changing, worthwhile experience we should always include in our schedule.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
– Psalm 34:8