Bible pages flipping in wind

How to Enjoy Reading the Bible More

If you want to enjoy the Bible, you first have to allow yourself to enjoy it. Hear me out, sometimes we get so in our heads about reading the Bible that we don’t see how naturally interesting it is. The character developments, the conflict, the wisdom, the consistency of God’s character, and the memorable and often bold statements.

But maybe your view of the Bible has been watered down. I heard so many Bible stories thrown around in passing, at church, and through family that there was a point where I wondered if I even needed to read it. I could quote Bible stories I never read just because of the amount of times I heard about them. But there is something special and necessary about getting into the Word and reading it for yourself.

Read it like a book

Now let me be clear, the Bible is NOT just a book. It is living and active and God-breathed. *Emphasis on God-breathed.* That’s one reason some people find it so intimidating but God doesn’t want us to open His Word with that type of fear. Reverence, yes, but trepidation and unease, no. So don’t go into it questioning what “revelation” you’ll get or wondering what it means for your life. Expect and know that God speaks through His word, and also be humble and patient with how He chooses to do so. Many times people read the Bible thinking it will immediately reveal their purpose or tell them exactly how to handle a tough situation. Time in the Word often does lead to these things, but that isn’t the primary goal. Let me explain.

If you read a fiction romance novel, hoping it will provide dating advice, you will probably end up disappointed. All of the Bible points to who God is and His relationship with His people and His creation. However, there are different writing styles in order to achieve this. In order to really read the Bible for what it is, it helps to be aware of the writing style of the book you are reading and still keep in mind what it’s saying about God and creation.

Photo by @aaronburden Aaron Burden on unsplash

Don’t Ignore Cross References

Read what it’s saying and accept the context in which the book is written. For instance, the book of Joshua gives the history of the Israelites entering the promised land and dividing the land. There are several descriptions of the battles fought and the inheritance of each tribe. Some parts can feel redundant and potentially confusing since much of it relates back to commands the Lord gave or events that took place in the first 5 books of the Bible. Taking the extra minute to look at a cross reference (related verse) and consistently thinking back to the full picture helps.

You wouldn’t open up a new novel you hadn’t read to page 50 and expect to understand what’s going on. The same is true while reading the Bible. It can be very beneficial to read it from the beginning, however, there are so many great tools that help even if you don’t do that. If you’ve been ignoring the footnotes and cross-references, start paying attention to those. They help make sense of the book you’re in and why certain people and God are responding certain ways.

And it can be really exciting to see. Sometimes the cross reference will point you to a previous conversation, event, promise or previous command. The response in the book you are in could be based on that. It makes more sense when you see God’s anger towards the people based on a command they deliberately break. And it’s really fun when you see a promise fulfilled!

Read for Comprehension

Reading the Bible shouldn’t just be a checklist item. It’s easy to gloss over parts when you’re just trying to get done with one chapter or one verse or whatever your target is. You’ll enjoy your time more when you understand what’s happening. Another way to increase comprehension is to use study tools. (Be mindful of the credibility of anything you decide to watch or read and trust God to help you identify when teachings aren’t correct).

A few resources that have been highly rated and helpful are below:

A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way

Picking up the Bible and opening it up to a random spot might be an act of faith to some, but it also can be a less thoughtful way of engaging the Word. I eluded to this above, but it’s important to be mindful of what you’re reading. Here are a few general tips for reading passages.

For books you haven’t read, start in the first chapter.

It can be tempting to start in the middle or at a verse you’ve heard about, but starting at the very beginning will help you with the context for that specific book. If you can’t always start with the first book, commit to going back to read it later.

Identify the audience and overall purpose of the book.

Study bibles tend to have this information included. You can usually do a quick google search and find accurate summaries. Bonus tip: also look up when the book was written and who wrote it. When considering the purpose, don’t overthink this. The question you’re attempting to answer is, what was the writer telling the audience?

Identify the type of book you are reading.

Books of the Bible can most simply be broken down into four categories. They are, the books of the law, historical books, poetry, and prophetic. Again don’t overthink this one. This is helpful to know because the level of understanding from poetry can be different from a book that gives straightforward historical context.

These tips in practice should generally take about 5 minutes. These simple steps will prepare you for what you’re about to read, kind of like the blurb on the back of a novel you pick up. This should cause some intrigue and interest in what you’re going to read.

Last, but not least – pray.

This should really be first, throughout, and last. Thank God for the gift of His word. Pray for wisdom and understanding as you read. Pray that you remain humble and good soil and that you put into action, by faith, what His word says. And make your prayers specific and personal, based on your needs.

Identify What’s Challenging

If you’ve read this far and are still thinking, “but it’s still hard,” it’s time to be real and honest with yourself about why that is and what you don’t like about reading the Bible.

Common reasons people don’t like reading the Bible can include:

  • they don’t understand it,
  • it’s boring to them,
  • some parts seem contradictory (this is why context and deeper study is needed),
  • parts can be redundant,
  • some of the language is confusing,
  • not sure if they believe it,
  • not sure what parts are still applicable today

Maybe your reason isn’t listed. Whatever the reason, it all boils down to faith and our heart posture towards God. This too, is something you can get past and God is able to give you the strength and encouragement you need. I’ve been there, where I had doubts and questions. Pray that God will show you more of Him and deepen your trust. There were many in the Bible that had doubts. “…I believe, help my unbelief.” Mark 9:25. Give it all to God. He’s listening to you.

Pray to God to Increase Your Desire and Comprehension

God wants you to see more of Him and to trust His Word. The Bible encourages us to meditate on the Word day and night (Psalm 1). The Bible says that “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5). We also are told that “the word of God is living and active… discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

There are so many more scriptures that speak to the power and importance of the Bible and seeking wisdom from God. Psalm 1 also says that blessed are those that delight in God’s word. There are several other mentions of delighting and enjoying the Bible. Pair that with God’s instruction to come and ask for anything we desire and that means you can pray for God to increase your desires in the Bible and it’s truth.

Ask for your faith in Him to grow and that as you read you will have deeper comprehension and belief in His goodness and in His great character. Pray that the right people will be planted in your life that will give you community to learn and grow. Pray that you would believe His word over the word of anyone or anything that disagrees with it.

I pray that you are encouraged and excited to dive deeper into the Word of God. It’s not too late. Start now.

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