Over the years my resolve to regularly read the Bible daily has waxed and waned. Among my problems are that I get bored repeating the same thing day after day, and I’m easily distracted. What was I saying? If you’re like me, then here are some tips that might help to keep things fresh so that you can persevere.
- Find a translation that’s easy to read, yet faithful to the original. A paraphrase like The Message is easy to read, but it doesn’t stick closely to the text. The New American Standard Version sticks very closely to the original text, but it can be hard going, especially if you don’t count yourself an avid reader. My tips are to use a New International Version, or a Christian Standard Bible, or an English Standard Version. If you regularly use the NIV, then you might want to stick with it, but mix it up with one of the others from time to time. The advantage of using your regular Bible is that you get the feel for where things are. An advantage of using a different version is that you hear things slightly differently and this can aid your understanding. I will often open my CSB looking for some fresh insights.
- If you have studied the Biblical languages of Greek or Hebrew, then this offers another opportunity for digging deeply into the Bible text. Do some translation for yourself. If you can’t sustain all your Bible reading this way, then perhaps choose a few verses once a week to dig into more deeply.
- Writing the Bible out is a helpful way to read slowly and let it soak in. You could aim to type the entire Bible onto computer over the course of a year or more. Or you could write out a key verse each time you read a passage. The process of doing something tactile with what you read is a proven aid to remembering what you read.
- This year I am following a couple of Bible reading plans. One of these plans I will read, and the other I will listen. Listening to someone read the Bible well is a great help to hearing the Scriptures making sense. I am following the NIV read by David Suchet, who speaks with an English accent. I have it as an app on my phone. It’s beautifully read and particularly helpful when following large sections of narrative. There is a newly released audio version of the ESV read by Kristyn Getty, who has a gentle Irish accent that I find easy to listen too.
- It’s easier to stick at something when you’re not the only one doing it. Find a reading partner or group. This could be your husband or wife, friends or children, small group, or even an entire church. You could physically read together, with people taking it in turns to read out loud. Or you could commit to reading at the same time, wherever you are, and then check in each other to see how it’s going.
- You could follow a do-it-yourself plan, like S.O.A.P. Each time you look at the Bible, you follow four steps: Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. Read it first, maybe more than once. Then, what observations do you make about what it means? Any questions to resolve? What does it teach about God? How does it point to Jesus? How does it call me to respond? Allow time to apply the passage, focusing on how it calls you to trust Jesus and to turn back to him. Then spend some time praying about what you learn.
- If you are following a plan, then don’t give up if you fall behind. It took me five years to complete a three year Bible reading plan, but I’m glad I persevered.