(Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.)
In a previous post, we saw that the first step in understanding the Bible is to read it for ourselves, cover to cover. This is how we begin to acquire the building blocks of Scripture that are the foundation for our understanding of God’s Word. But how do we get started? What can we do to develop this healthy and necessary habit of regularly reading the Bible?
In this post, we’ll go over seven practical tips that will help you build up a daily habit of reading the Bible.
1. Pray for a hunger for God’s Word
In Psalm 119, we see the psalmist’s love and hunger for God’s Word. In verse 103 he exclaims:
“How sweet are Your words to my taste! Sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
We also can experience this kind of joy when we come to the Bible. We simply need to ask God to give us a hunger for His Word. This is surely a prayer that God would delight to answer.
2. Set a definite time
It helps to schedule a time for reading the Bible. An excellent time is early in the morning, before the busyness of the day begins. Other possible times are during lunch or before going to bed. Designating a time helps us remember to read the Word and incorporates it into our daily routine.
3. Read consecutively
Perhaps we’ve jumped around in our Bible reading before, reading a passage here and a section there. But a good strategy to regularly and consistently read the Word is to do so consecutively, chapter by chapter and book by book. This way, we don’t have to decide what to read each time we open the Bible. As we read it from cover to cover, we’ll begin to see how cohesive the Bible is.
4. Turn your heart to the Lord
Every time we come to the Word, it’s good to first turn our heart to the Lord Jesus. Before we start our Bible reading, we can pray a simple prayer like this:
“Lord Jesus, I turn my heart to you right now. I open to You. Speak to me and wash me in Your Word today. Dear Lord, there is so much more for me to see in Your Word. Enlighten me more as I read today.”
Praying a simple prayer like this will help us be open to anything the Lord would like to speak to us through His Word.
5. Pray over what you read
Sometimes as we’re reading the Bible, a particular verse stands out to us. It may comfort us, convict us, or apply exactly to our situation. Other times, a verse may perplex us. Whatever our reaction may be, when we’re struck by a particular portion we should stop and pray over it. We can thank the Lord or praise Him for the promises we find in His Word. We can also ask Him to show us the meaning of a certain passage or just talk to Him about a verse.
In this way, the Bible can become a book of prayer to us, helping us spend time with our dear Lord Jesus and develop our relationship with Him.
6. Keep track of your Bible reading
It’s good to keep track of what you’ve read, and there are many ways to do so. You can mark the date you finish a chapter or book in your physical Bible. You can check off each book in the table of contents as you read it. You can also tally the number of times you’ve read the entire Old and New Testaments.
Keeping track of our progress encourages us in developing a Bible reading habit. For example, you may think you’re going too slowly if you read one chapter per day. But you’ll finish the whole New Testament in less than a year by reading just one chapter every day. After five years, you might look at your record and find you’ve read through the New Testament seven times! Seeing this kind of progress encourages us to continue on.
7. Guard against distractions
Since reading the Bible daily is so important for us as Christians, we need to treasure the time we’ve set aside to enjoy God’s Word. Our lives are full of things that can interrupt or distract us, so we have to be proactive to guard our time designated for reading the Bible.
For example, you may want to silence your phone during this time so that incoming calls, texts, and other notifications don’t interrupt you. Resolving not to respond to these alerts will help keep your focus on the Word. Some people find that reading the Bible on an electronic device is less than ideal because of the many distractions that are right there. If you’ve found this to be the case, you could try using a print version of the Bible instead to help you focus your whole attention on God’s Word (you can order a free study New Testament from us here).
A daily Bible reading habit will lay a foundation for our Christian life, strengthening our faith and helping us know the Lord Jesus in a deeper way. May God grant us all His grace to daily read His Word so that we can grow in our knowledge of the truth!