Every Spring semester, our youth ministry puts on a reading challenge in which the entire group is divided up into teams where they compete against each other by seeing who can read the most. The winners come away with some sort of prize (and obviously immortal glory!). In years past, we have mixed it up with reading all kinds of books but this year we are focusing merely on reading the Bible. One of the categories of Christian experience that middle schoolers and high schoolers need to grow in is in their reading of the Bible (especially in a biblically illiterate age). One of the encouragements that I wanted to give our students were some tips for how to read the Bible. I thought that this might be helpful for even ages beyond the youth ministry. So, here are 23 tips for reading the Bible:
Get you a hard copy Bible that you will make “your” Bible.
Think about getting a “Journaling Bible” from Crossway in order to write down your reflections on the side.
Download the “Read Scripture” app and follow its Bible reading plan. It’s free!
Remember where each book of the Bible is in the entire story when you are reading it. (Ex: It is helpful to know that Daniel was written during Israel’s period in exile. Or, it is helpful to know that Esther is towards the very end of the Old Testament time period even though it’s not placed at the end of the Old Testament books.)
Choose a book that your passionate about reading and start there.
Read the introductory notes of the book before starting (if your Bible has those).
Read all of the Bible in order to understand the books better.
Ask these questions:
What does this say about God?
What does this say about us?
What does this say about our need for Jesus?
What does this about how we are to live?
Read John Perritt’s booklet “Bible 101” to understand better how the Bible works.
Don’t just think about what the Bible is saying but think about why God wants you to know this.
Talk about what you read with someone else.
Use helpful resources to go alongside your reading, such as:
Set aside time in the morning, afternoon, or evening that you protect and prioritize.
Turn your phone over and the TV/computer off.
Pray before you read and ask God to open your eyes to see what’s really there and to hear what He is saying.
Pray afterward and ask God to sink this truth into your heart.
If it is in the morning, grab your coffee to help you wake up.
Set aside 15-20 minutes of undistracted focus.
The more you read, the more it’ll make sense and the more you’ll want to read more.
Use a Study Bible and read the notes at the bottom to help you understand what the text is saying. Try these Study Bibles:
Read other good Christian books in order to understand the Bible better.
Practice what you read.
Don’t rush through your reading. Think about it.