Updated: Apr 24, 2020
I made you guys something special, but first a question:
The Bible is one of the best-selling books of all time, so why is it sometimes so hard to read?
Besides the tricky phrasing, the cultural differences, portions of confusing laws or repeating information, it's also quite a long book—especially if you're not typically a reader. If you've ever tried reading the Bible cover to cover you may have skipped merrily along through Genesis and Exodus only to be lost in the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Yet, the Bible is many people's favorite book, filled with dog-eared corners and highlighted passages. More than a book of Hallmark sayings and adventure stories, it is a guide that people align their lives by. We find comfort in grief, encouragement in trials, songs of praise in times of joy, and truth for the big questions in life like, “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” “What is the point of life?” “Is there a God?”
How to get the most out of your Bible time
With gold like this to be mined, we really need to be spending time every day in the Word! There is so much information in the Bible that life-long scholars are still finding new veins to be explored—you can't just read it once and declare, “Done!”
So how do we make reading the Bible a time of joy and not a time of frustration and overwhelm?
Let's take a look at a few tips, and I hope you will add your own in the comments!
Soak your time in prayer.
Open your Bible study time with a prayer, and end it with prayer. It doesn't have to be fancy, simply share what's on your heart with God and ask Him to bless your time in His word. God loves to give to those who ask for wisdom! (James 1:5)
Create a pleasant environment for your study time, especially when you're just starting out.
There is a lovely tradition in ancient Judaism of feeding your children bread with honey while teaching them scripture. They learn at an early age to associate learning with pleasure. If bread and honey isn't your thing, a hot beverage, a scented candle, a peaceful park bench, a cozy blanket, or music might do the trick!
Leave reminders for yourself.
Leave your Bible where you see it several times a day. Put a sticky note on the mirror, the fridge, or the dash of your car to remind you to take the time to read.
Commit to reading, but don't be rigid with yourself!
I don't know about you, but sometimes when I'm trying to form a new habit and I “mess up”, I feel like I failed and just throw in the towel. Give yourself grace if you find a week has gone by and you forgot to read. Don't let negative emotions color your Bible time. Simply get back into it!
Read with a friend.
While personal Bible time is important, it's also important to connect with others. The Bible wasn't meant to be a solo expedition. It was given to a nation to be followed as a nation. It's only in modern times that religion became a personal, private experience. If you don't have Christian friends, you can connect to a small group in your church or ask a more experienced church member to mentor you. (Don't be shy, most Christians love to share what they've learned!) You can also do studies over the phone, email, or video chat! Sermons are great, but for deep Bible study, you want an environment where you can not only listen, but where you can discuss, ask questions, and share your own insights.
You don't have to read the Bible in a specific order to reap the benefits.
I do highly recommend that you stay within a certain book rather than flitting from verse to verse. Context is so important to understanding a tricky passage, and often I find questions I have early on are answered by the time I get to the end of the book. That said, the Psalms and the Proverbs are good stand-alone chapters if you want a change of pace.
If you've committed to reading the entire Bible (even the tricky bits!), good for you! You will surely be blessed by this time you spend in the Word.
You can find many “Read the Bible in a Year” lists that will lead you through the entire Bible. Personally, they aren't my favorite because if I get behind I get a panicked need-to-catch-up-feeling that makes me rush. Or, if I'm doing an in-depth study, I want to read my own selections instead of theirs.
I love Bible Reading Trackers instead!
There is no timeline, no pressure, and all the satisfaction. When you're taking on a big goal, it's good to break it down into manageable smaller goals, and to keep records of how far you've gone for motivation and affirmation!
I have two unique Bible Reading Tracker printables in the Download Library! They are absolutely free for the Jump in the Way community. If you haven't joined yet, simply enter your email here and I'll send you the access code for the Download Library!
(No spam, I promise!)
I had so much fun making these beautiful printables for you. The Old Testament Bible Reading Tracker has a honey theme, and you simply color in one of the hive hexagons every time you read a chapter in the corresponding book. The inspiration for this design came from Psalm 119:103:
“How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
In his vision, Ezekiel eats a scroll before he goes and speaks to the house of Israel.
“He said to me, ' Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.' Then I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey to my mouth.” - Ezekiel 3:4
It is such a beautiful picture of how our time reading the Bible is not dry and dusty, but something to be savored as a treat!
For the New Testament Bible Reading Tracker, I designed a water theme with droplets to color, based on Jesus' words in John 7:38.
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ' From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
The Scriptures Jesus is referring to are likely Isaiah 44:3; 55:1; 58:11.
“For I will pour out water on the thirsty, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants; and they will spring up among the grass like poplars by streams of water.” - Isaiah 44:3
Jesus came in the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35), and he left the Spirit for the disciples (Acts 1:4-5; 2:4). The entire New Testament proclaims the power of God's Spirit on the world!
Print off these Bible Reading Tracker Sheets and keep them handy!
I put mine in page protectors and added them to my binder of notes, but you can hang them on a bulletin board or keep them on the fridge.
I hope that they will encourage you as you journey through the Bible!