Are you a new believer and wonder where you’re supposed to start reading the Bible? Or maybe you question if there is a right or wrong way to take? Have you found yourself wondering why you should spend your precious time reading the Bible? If these questions sound familiar, this post will help you find the right-for-you way to start reading your Bible!
Why Spend Your Time Reading The Bible?
Imagine moving to a foreign country. The way the natives speak, dress, behave, their laws; it is so different from what you are used to. Now imagine this foreign country had a handbook, a detailed manual, that they gave to all who were new. There would be folks all over who would gladly help you understand the manual. These kind people would encourage you to consult this manual yourself for direction and guidance because they knew that they wouldn’t always be available to answer your questions. But they understood your being new because they were once in your shoes.
That right there. That is what the Bible and fellowship are to new believers (1 Chronicles 29:15, 1 Peter 2:11). It is like moving to a foreign country and learning new ways to live, speak, dress, and even think or view the world around you. You could certainly learn all those things the hard way but if you had a detailed manual to follow, why wouldn’t you use it?
Another bonus is that as you read the Bible you are spending time with God learning who He is and who He says you are. But that’s not all. Reading the Bible is important because in the book of Joshua God says to keep this book always on your lips. You can’t have it on your lips if you don’t know what it says, right? God goes on to say that you are to continually think (meditate) on what you’ve read. In that way, God’s words will renew your mind (adjust your thinking to you see things with God’s truth instead of Satan’s lies). God’s words give you a new, clear perspective.
When you do as God commands through his word, he promises to make you prosperous and successful (but don’t jump up and down about those words just yet. As you get into the Word you will see that prosperity and success mean something different to God than they do us. Sorry for the bunny trail. We can learn more about prosperity and success down the road). Anyway, here is how the Bible says what I just said in my long-winded way:
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)
How To Start Reading The Bible
When you first give your life to Christ and ask Him to be Lord of your life, you need to begin reading the Bible. That really isn’t negotiable. Because of that, I would suggest being intentional about your time with God, especially in the beginning. Put it on your calendar until it becomes so much a part of your routine that you dearly miss it when you can’t get to it.
Pick A Time & Place
This will be different for everyone. You might hear it said that you must read your Bible every single morning before doing anything else. I disagree. Your schedule may not allow for first thing in the morning and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about that.
At this point in my life, my devotional time with God is always first thing in the morning. When my kids were little, I kept a Bible in a few different places such as the bathroom, the kitchen drawer, under the edge of the couch, etc. I made up my mind that if I had a few minutes free I would give it to God as a love offering. I had 3 very loud, active little boys so I didn’t always have more than a few minutes at a time. Eventually, my season of life changed and with it, my time with God did too.
For my husband, his time spent reading the Bible is in the evenings when he used to veg in front of the TV. For my adult son, it is early afternoon when he gets home from work. Another son was working 70+ hours a week so the only time he could spend with God was on his breaks at work.
You have to look at your schedule and decide what is best for you. However, just keep in mind that if you aren’t intentional about reading your Bible, you probably won’t get to it.
Should You Read Or Study?
At first glance, you might not realize that reading is not the same as studying. Both are needed. But when you are a brand new Christian I would suggest that you not worry about studying yet. There will be time for that. But until then, crack open your Bible and just begin reading. Give yourself time to discover who God is and the history of His people. The Bible is filled with amazing stories that have many layers. The more you read, the more you will grow as the layers are revealed like an onion being peeled. When you feel ready for more you can add studying to your schedule.
What to do before and after you read. What about during?
Before You Read
Before you begin reading, pray. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, you will never understand what you are reading. So ask Him to help you, to open the eyes of your understanding, to take your hand and lead you to whatever He has to reveal to you that day.
During Your Reading
It is very helpful to keep a notebook handy as you read the Bible. At the top of the page write down the name of the book you are reading (Genesis, Act, etc). When you have a question about what you are reading, write down not just your question but the verse your question is associated with. But don’t let questions stop you from reading. Keep going. Everyone has questions regardless of how long someone has been a Christian.
After You Read
Pray again and thank God for opening your spiritual ears to hear and understand his soft voice. Give yourself time to think about what you have read. If you don’t think, pray, and apply to your life what you have read you are stopping your understanding and growth.
Where To Start Reading The Bible
There are quite a few different spots you can begin reading in your Bible. As I mentioned, when I was first saved I didn’t have much time with my littles underfoot. I chose to focus on short books of the Bible. My favorites were the books of James, Timothy, and Titus (New Testament). Other times I stayed in the book of Proverbs (Old Testament) for months at a time.
My husband began in Genesis and read his Bible from front to back. My youngest chose to begin reading his Bible as I did because of his crazy schedule. Another son chose to stay in the New Testament and only read the red letters.
As you can see, no one way is “correct”.
Below I’ve listed a few different methods. Pick one that sounds appealing and give it a try. If you find that it just doesn’t hold your attention, try a different approach. You can always come back to that book later.
1. Start with the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John which can be found at the beginning of the New Testament. Read one book at a time before moving on to the next. These four books are not identical. They present the life of Jesus from the perspective of these 4 men.
2. Start with the book of Proverbs: When you are short on time, these little nuggets of God’s wisdom will give you plenty to meditate on because they are usually a sentence or two long. These nuggets are amazing in helping you renew your mind and behavior.
3. Start with the letters: Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, and Hebrews can all be found in the New Testament. As with the Gospels, begin reading one book at a time before moving on to the next.
4. Start with the book of Psalms: The Psalms can be found in the Old Testament. They are full of emotion, wisdom, and the truth of who God is. This is a powerful book!
5. Start with the book of John: The book of John is one of the Gospels. John was a disciple of Jesus and his book focuses on Jesus’ love and grace.
6. Start with the New Testament: Read it through one book at a time before moving on.
7. Start with the Old Testament: Read it through one book at a time before moving on.
8. Start with the red letter of Jesus: These can be found in the New Testament but not all Bibles highlight Jesus’ words in red. Although the rest of the New Testament is certainly needed, isolating your reading to just the red letters is eye-opening.
9. Start with the popcorn method: With this method, you bounce around like popcorn popping. This is probably the most popular method for new believers but if you do it for long, it is a hard habit to break when you begin to study the Bible.
10. Cover-to-Cover: Start with Genesis and read all the way through to Revelation. Some struggle with this method until they have been saved a while. But if you feel led to read the Bible this way, go for it!
Bible Reading Plans
So what should you do if you need more structure or accountability? Try a Bible reading plan! Many of these plans provide a printout that you can check off as you read the suggested daily reading. Or if you prefer, there are many online plans that can be found through Google or Pinterest. Type in something like “free Bible reading plans” and watch how many pop up! Here are a few Bible reading plans to give you an idea on what is out there:
1. Chronological reading plans: This type of plan presents the Bible in the order that events are believed to have happened. It jumps around the Bible giving you a better understanding of the cohesive flow.
2. Single book reading plans: Just as the name implies, you pick a book and read it all the way through before moving onto another book. There is a lot of benefit to this type of plan because it helps you keep what you read in context.
3. One (or two, three, four or five) year reading plan: These plans give you chunks of the Bible to read at a time that will allow you to read the Bible in 1,2,3,4, or even 5-year reading plans. As you may have guessed, the 1-year plan gives you far more verses to read daily than the 5-year reading plan does.
4. Cover-to-cover: With this type of plan you take as much time as you like but you will read the entire Bible, cover-to-cover. This plan gives you a checklist of the books that you can check off as you move along.
The more you read, the more your spiritual understanding will be opened. Regardless of which method you pick to read your Bible, take your time and read it slowly so that you can fully understand what you are reading. You will get out of the Bible what you put into it but time with God will never be time wasted. God says his words never return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). You simply can’t seek God and not be changed!
For Additional Reading: Part 1: An Overview of the Bible
For Additional Reading: Part 2: Choosing a Bible