Suggestions for Improving Bible Reading

There are so many different ways that you can use to read the Bible for the purposes of building up  your faith.  In addressing improvements, there are some general rules I would suggest.

  1. More is better.  Not that a person should read more than they can understand or digest, but I believe that you will be better served by a healthy portion of scripture as opposed to a verse a day.  One of the great problems with small portions is the lack of context.  For example, you could read in one day’s “verse” “Brothers, join in imitating me and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Phil. 3:17).  Now, I’m sure there is good application a person might create out of this, but wouldn’t it be much better to read this in the context of the surrounding verses to see what pattern of Paul’s is being commended, and why?  At least a paragraph, and probably a chapter, would be the minimal amount a person might want to consider for daily reading.
  2. Read for application, not information.  Now, of course you need the information (the “5 Ws and an H”) of the passage.  But you should keep in mind the question, “what is God wanting me to gain from this for my life today?”  Sometimes this is an easy question to answer, but sometimes it takes some time to figure out.  Don’t ask, “what does this mean to me?” as the meaning is not up for debate.  It is the application that can be multi-faceted.
  3. Read daily.  You simply must make this a habit, and breaks (“I’ll read four times each week”) are just too hard to overcome when left to ourselves.  I’ve been told it takes anywhere from 6-9 weeks to establish a habit, so don’t be surprised if you struggle getting going.
  4. Interact with your reading.  Take notes, or mark your Bible.  Do things that will deepen the reading experience.  When you write about it, you are using a different learning skill, and doing more to cement the lesson in your soul.  That’s why taking notes on sermons helps you understand them, even if you have no plans to keep the notes.
  5. At some point, you need to read the Bible through.  I know I spoke to the dangers of through the Bible programs, and they are real.  But there is no more important reading task to my mind, then to get through the Bible.  My wife used a 2 year plan, others have used a 3 year plan.  Jeff Brock has used a three month plan that he says is quite achievable.  Four chapters a day gets you through the Bible in a year. 
  6. Read broadly in the Word.  Don’t just do gospels, or just psalms, or proverbs.  Don’t only do epistles, or just New Testament.  Move around.  Get a feel for the whole of Scripture.
  7. Set a regular time for Bible reading.  This will help in the establishment of the habit.

Let me now suggest a few practical methods.

  1. Choose book of the Bible to read, one chapter per day.  When you finish the book, choose another, and do the same.  Keep track of the books you have read, and in four years, you can read the whole Bible.
  2. Follow number one, but also read one psalm a day, and possible one chapter of Proverbs a day.  Much more content, but it creates daily variety.
  3. Consider using “Daily Light on the Daily Path,” but with this addition–look up the verses and check out their contexts.  Daily Light is wonderful for reading verses dealing with the same theme, but sometimes a few of them are not used in context.
  4. If you really love “Our Daily Bread,” make sure you are reading the full passage suggested with the devotional–not just the verse at the top and the story on the page.  Other devotionals you might consider are “Morning by Morning” and “Evening by Evening” by Spurgeon, “My Utmost for His Highest” by Chambers (regular or updated versions, but know that you get much less scripture in this than in other devotionals and some of Chambers’ theology is rather Arminian).  My preference for growth is to read the Bible itself, not someone else’s take on what the Bible says.
  5. For the person really wanting lots of breadth and depth in reading, a friend of mine developed “The Ten Lists” system, which I followed for about a year.  It may be found here.
Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 6:17 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Hi Pastor,

    Don’t know if you’ll read this since I’m responding months after you posted this. I shared the Village Pastor with my mom tonight and we read your suggestions for reading the Bible this year. We’re both doing something different, but are enjoying what we’re doing. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    Marlene Gaffner and Nadine Schonscheck

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