Do you read your Bible regularly? If not – why not?
Are you too distracted during prayer and Bible study? Too busy? Or maybe you don’t know how to read the Bible?
Over the past couple of months, I’ve really been encouraging everyone in the Equipping Godly Women reader community to get in the habit of reading their Bibles regularly.
After all, Joshua 1:8 tells us to “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
I’ve shared articles on
I even created a really neat Quiet Time Planning Guide to help you plan – and actually keep – the perfect quiet time for you.
(You should check it out — it’s free. and awesome.)
But there’s one issue I haven’t addressed yet, and that is: How to Read the Bible When You Don’t Know Where to Start.
Now, if you’re a Christian, I absolutely believe you should be reading the Bible.
And while there is no law that says you have to read it every day, it really is important that you are reading your Bible regularly. (Or at least doing your best to!)
It’s actually the story of God’s relationship with his people since the dawn of time. It’s a story of love, forgiveness, and hope. And it’s a story that we can still learn a ton from today.
In fact, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
That’s right. The Scriptures actually help us, empower us and equip us to live out our lives as Christians!
But… only if we read them.
So, how do we start?
*This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps cover the many costs of running this site and allows me to help provide for my growing family. Thank you!
How to Read the Bible (A Beginner’s Guide)
If you’d like to learn how to read the Bible but you’re a little intimidated, that’s totally okay. It IS a BIG book, parts of it can be difficult to understand, and there’s a lot to it! Thankfully, you don’t have to read or understand it all at once.
Just go bit by bit, and use the following tips to help you out. I promise, they’ll make learning how to read the Bible a LOT easier and less intimidating!
1. Choose a Good Bible Translation
Originally, the Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. In other words — not in English.
The English Bibles we have today are all just translations of the original language, and some are easier to read than others. And while it is true that some translations are more accurate than others, if you’re just starting out reading (not diving into deep theology), any of the common translation should be fine.
The New Living Translation (NLT) is a good one to start with, since it’s pretty easy to read. And The Message is also a very easy read as well, although it is a paraphrase, so it’s not as close to the original translation.
Personally, I typically read some combination of the New International Version (NIV), the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB). They’re all pretty middle-of-the-road.
You will definitely want to look for a study Bible, though (you can find them in just about any translation).
Study Bibles are great because they contain a lot of additional information to make your studying easier — even if you’re just learning how to study the Bible for yourself for the first time.
- Quick summaries at the beginning of each book
- Additional information right next to the text
- Answers to common questions
- Word definitions
- Lists of key verses by topic
- Lists of key miracles and parables and where to find them
- Maps of the time period
- And much more
Don’t worry — this doesn’t make your reading more difficult or complicated. These resources are there to help you find what you’re looking for and to help explain things you might otherwise miss or not understand. They’re super helpful! And study Bibles are super common, so it’s not hard at all to find one.
2. Choose Where to Start Reading the Bible
Okay, you have a good Bible and you’re ready to dig in. But where do you start?
One thing it’s important to know: You don’t have to go in order. And if you’re just learning how to read the Bible for the first time, I’d recommend that you don’t. Instead, you might want to start with an easy portion and work your way up to the harder parts.
Quick (& Over-simplified) Overview of the Old Testament:
- Genesis – Exodus: Bible stories of the first people God created. Easy reading.
- Leviticus – Deuteronomy: Long lists of Old Testament law that we are not required to follow today. Difficult reading.
- Joshua – Job, Isaiah – Malachi: Longer, more complicated stories of the Israelites and their “on again off again” relationship with following God. Moderate reading.
- Psalms – Ecclesiastes: Quick, general Biblical advice for good living. Easy reading.
Quick (& Over-simplified) Overview of the New Testament:
- Matthew – John: Bible stories of Jesus’ time on earth. Easy reading.
- Acts: Bible stories about the early church. Easy reading.
- Romans – Jude: Letters from early Christians to the churches, encouraging and instructing them in their faith. Easy reading.
- Revelation: A vision of what the end times will be like. Difficult reading.
*Note: Catholic Bibles contain 7 books that are not in Protestant Bibles. These books (all of which come from the Old Testament) are known as the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books. I would read the books above first, and then come back to these later.
Personally, I’d probably recommend reading the Bible in this order (for ease of reading ONLY):
- Genesis and Exodus first
- Psalms – Proverbs
- Matthew – John
- Romans – Jude
- Joshua – Job, Isaiah – Malachi
- Leviticus – Deuteronomy
This isn’t in chronological order by any means. But it should allow you to hit as many of the popular and helpful “highlights” as possible while saving the most difficult books for last.
3. Take Your Time! Learn How to Read the Bible Slowly
If you have the time to sit and read the Bible for hours on end, that’s great! Most people don’t, though. Most people read just a little bit at a time, and actually prefer it this way. And if you’re just starting out learning how to read the Bible, that’s what I would recommend for you as well.
The Bible is not a speed reading contest, and if you try to read through it too fast, there’s a lot you are likely to miss.
Don’t be afraid to take it slow and really seek to understand what you are reading, not just skim over it. It’s okay if you have to go back and read portions more than one time or if you stop to look something up. That’s a good thing!
Depending on the difficulty of the book you are reading and the amount of time you have to read your Bible each day, you may only read a chapter, a couple chapters or even just a part of a chapter (chapters are usually very short, and they’re all numbered, like Genesis 1 or Matthew 5).
**Want a free Bible journaling sheet to help you stay focused when you’re learning how to read the Bible? Grab this one for FREE on our Subscriber Freebies page!
4. Reflect on What You’re Reading in the Bible
Another reason why you want to read the Bible a little more slowly is because it gives you time to stop and reflect on what you’re reading and how it applies to your life.
You may want to ask yourself questions like:
- What is this passage mostly about?
- What does this passage reveal about God/Jesus?
- What does this passage reveal about humankind?
- What message or key point is the author trying to express?
- How does this short passage fit in context with the rest of the chapter?
- Are there any lessons I can learn from this passage?
- Are there any changes I need to make in my life after reading this passage?
The questions you ask will vary based on which portion of the Bible you are reading, but these seven questions to ask while reading the Bible should get you off to a good start.
5. Use Helpful Bible Tools and Resources as Needed
While you definitely can read the Bible cover to cover all by yourself, you can learn SO much more by taking advantage of some of the amazing Bible resources out there that are available to you — many of them for free!
This Quiet Time Planning Guide is will help you determine what your Bible-reading time should look like, logistically speaking.
It contains 8 pages of worksheets, tips and encouragement to help you:
- Plan the best quiet time for you
- Stay focused despite distractions
- Hold yourself accountable
- Experience real spiritual growth
And — it’s free!
- Not sure what to read? Here’s a collection of Easy Bible Reading Plans to help you know what to read each day. Most of them come with a community aspect as well — so you aren’t just reading the Bible with yourself, but going through it with a group! Super helpful.
- Having trouble understanding the passage (section) you’re reading? Look up the verses on Biblehub.com. You can read the same verse in a variety of different translations, and if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can read several summaries and explanations written by various Bible scholars (commentaries).
- Having trouble staying on track? Check out these 7 Reasons You’re Struggling to Read the Bible Consistently. Maybe one will ring a bell?
Seasoned Bible readers — do you have any more tips for people just learning how to read the Bible for the first time? Newbies — what’s holding you back? Tell us in the comments below!
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