9 tips for reading your Bible in 2019
Reading your Bible can be tough and something that most of us will have to force ourselves to persevere in at some point in our lives. Perhaps you’ve given up on it recently or you’re just going through the motions in order to tick a box each day.
Wherever you’re at, here are nine tips to encourage you to read God’s word in 2019.
- Listen to an audio Bible
Listening to the Bible can be a great way to engage with God’s word, with the added bonus of keeping your hands free while you walk, run, drive to work, catch the train, do the dishes…
There are plenty of audio Bibles available online. For most, the easiest to access would be the free YouVersion Bible app—just click the audio button at the top of the passage you have open.
Another option is the popular paid NIV Bible read by David Suchet, otherwise known as BBC’s Poirot. Though a bit pricey, he’s easy to listen to and the audiobook is available in both CD and digital forms.
- Read a different translation
Always stuck to the NIV? Why not give the ESV or Holman a try (or vice versa)? Or go all out and try the KJV. Seeing how different translations approach a passage can help you to pick up nuances and variations that you would otherwise miss.
This article by the Bible Society UK gives a good overview of the Bible translation continuum, as well as a handy summary of 16 different English translations, including pros and cons for each.
- Keep a journal
There are so many things that you can do with a journal, whether it’s drawing the passage, making notes using the Swedish method (see tip #7), or simply reflecting on what stands out for you.
As an added bonus, if you’re someone (like me) who often gets distracted during prayer, then why not try writing to God? It’s prayer just the same, but with less opportunity for stray thoughts to side-track you when you can literally see your half-finished sentence on the page.
- Read books in one sitting
Reading a book of the Bible in one sitting can give you a greater understanding of how the book fits together as a whole, as it was originally written and heard, rather than breaking it up into the chapters and verses which are more modern additions.
While reading all of Psalms or Jeremiah in one hit is a pretty big time commitment, many of the shorter books are quite doable. This graph by Desiring God gives an estimate of how long it takes to read each book of the Bible.
- Alternate between big picture and detail-oriented readings
Of course, reading a book in one sitting will usually be big picture reading, although even reading a few chapters at a time can give you a greater sense of the book overall. The Bible Project has some great overview videos if you’re looking for some help in understanding the structure and themes in each book.
On the other hand, a detail-oriented reading tends to allow a better understanding of different ideas in the book, as well as the opportunity to absorb biblical truths in greater depth as you move through the text more slowly.
Both have value, so try switching it up instead of always sticking to one.
- Use your commute
Many of us spend a significant part of our day commuting to school, work or uni. Whether you’re driving or catching public transport, it’s a great opportunity to read or listen to Scripture. For those in a routine, this can also help you establish a good habit. If every day you’re jumping on the train for thirty minutes, why not set aside your morning commute for reading the Bible and praying?
- Use a Bible reading method
While there are no hard and set rules for how you should read the Bible, using a structured approach can be helpful.
The Swedish Method is a particular favourite. The basic three symbols are a light bulb for something that stands out to you, a question mark for any questions you have and an arrow for personal application. There are also other symbols that you can add, including a cross for what the passage says about Jesus, a mountain for context, a speech bubble for someone you can share it with, or just make up your own!
There are plenty of other Bible reading methods out there, so there’s bound to be one that works for you!
- Use a devotional book or a Bible reading plan
Whether it’s for the whole year or just a portion of it, a devotional or reading plan can come in handy and there are plenty out there.
John Piper recommends The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan, which will take you through the whole Bible in a year, with both Old and New Testament readings each day. You can find it and two other plans here. The great thing about all of them is that they only schedule 20–25 readings a month, so you have plenty of time to catch up if you fall behind!
- Switch it up
It can be difficult to keep up a good Bible reading habit. We all lose motivation sometimes or would just rather be doing something else.
The next time that happens, try switching it up. Instead of continuing to force yourself to read the Bible in one way, try a new approach, such as something listed above.
Whatever you do, remember that our salvation is secured by the life-saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—not our ability to read our Bibles every day!