he first time I tried a regular discipline of Bible reading, I ended up flinging it across the room. It didn’t make sense to me. Probably because I was too tired – I’d gotten it into my head that you were supposed to read the Bible first thing, which meant I had to get up before 5 am. I don’t recommend that.
But I do recommend reading the Bible most days. Some people love it right away. For many of us, it’s an acquired taste. The Bible claims itself to be inspired by God. Before I could believe that, I had to read a bevy of apologetic works like, “Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” and “Mere Christianity,” in addition to a month long pilgrimage to a Christian community in the Swiss Alps to study how the Bible came together. I’m naturally doubtful and cynical.
Other people become convinced just by experiencing the Bible on its own. There is a different quality to it than other books. Stuff jumps out at you. Words seem to sink in deeper. Repeated readings reveal deeper levels of truth. I’m easily bored, but I’m not bored by the Bible (Wait, except when people read it in a singsongy voice.)
Reading the Bible might not always feel good, like a walk in the park or other things suggested in this series, but it’s like eating vegetables. Repeated over time, it does us immense good. No one notices a change if vegetables are skipped for a day, but years without them will make you chronically sick. The Bible is our soul nutrition.
What to Keep in Mind:
Before you read, ask God to open your mind and teach you what you need to learn. Humility comes before wisdom.
Ask yourself what the author was intending and find out who he was writing for. Background and context is needed for any text to make sense.
Keep in mind that the bible is 66 separate documents written by many people in different genres over about 1500 years. Observe how cool it is that it all hangs together as well as it does.
You don’t need to read it in order. That can be heavy going. I return often to the gospels, the four accounts of Jesus. I read the Psalms a lot too. I try to balance Old and New Testament books, often alternating. Old is the foundation, New is the house that’s built on it, which we get to live in.
Try not to jump too soon to interpretation. Really notice and comprehend first, asking who, what, when, where, where, why, how?
If something confuses or irritates you, tell God. It may come clear on the spot, or you may get a sense that it’s not time for you to worry about it yet.
Switch it up. Sometimes you’ll want to read big chunks quickly for an overview. Other times, take little sections and drill in, mulling over it and perhaps memorizing.
Sometimes study it, sometimes read devotionally. The difference is whether you stand back from the text an analyze, or read it like a letter written to you by someone who loves you. We need both.
Don’t let doubt, cynicism, suffering or apathy keep you from the Bible. Give it a shot, daily. If you have to fling it across the room, aim for something soft.