– by Ron Edmundson
I’ll never forget the day a young college-aged girl told me recently that she didn’t enjoy reading her Bible and asked if there was an alternative book.
At first, I didn’t know what to say. Then I realized she was very serious.
“Well … no!” I thought, but didn’t say.
The Bible is THE BOOK!
There is no substitute. There are plenty of great Christian books, but none compare to this one.
That wasn’t a new concern. I’ve heard similar concerns many times. The Bible intimidates many people; even those who are avid readers of other books.
I did suggest this girl could listen to the Bible on a CD or mp3. YouVersion will even read the Bible to you. But then I told her I’d give her some more suggestions.
That’s what prompted this post. The reality is, I think we need to figure out how to enjoy reading God’s Word. Part of maturing as a believer is to fall in love with the Bible.
Here are seven suggestions that may help:
The Bible is not like any other book. You need God’s Spirit to help you understand and process it. You should always pray before and as you read it. Ask God to help you understand what you’re reading—even to help you enjoy it. Good news here! This appears, in my experience, to be one of God’s favorite prayers to answer.
Pick a version easy for you to understand. I would suggest you read a more literal translation primarily, but the paraphrase versions are good for casual reading. I suggest HCSB, NIV or NLT for a more literal but very readable version, ESV or NKJV if you want a most literal translation, or for a paraphrase version that’s extremely readable, try The Message version. I read some of each of these for my studies and casual reading.
It brings Scripture to life when we can share it with others. Find a small group. That’s what church is great at providing. Or find a group of guys or girls at a coffee shop or a couple of people from work. Studying the Scripture with a community helps energize you as you learn. When you talk about what you’re reading, it helps you value it more. (Read Philemon 6 for an example of this.)
Writing about your time in God’s Word will help you process your thoughts and keep a record of them. It’s exciting to go back over time and remember what you read before. It fuels your enthusiasm to study even more.
I love the idea of reading the Bible through in a year. I’ve done this many times. I think it’s more important, however, that you benefit from what you’re reading. I sometimes meditate on a few verses or a story for a day—or a week. I also recommend people start with an easier book to understand and move to more difficult passages from there. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John are good places to start. And find the right setting. A comfortable chair, an open field—morning, noon or night—what works best for you. And for as long as you can. Don’t put a time limit on it that adds more burden to the experience.
It’s best to have a study Bible for this part, but there are plenty of free online tools also. Look up words you don’t understand. Learn to use Bible dictionaries and commentaries. Use the Table of Contents. No shame. Look up passages that aren’t clear, cross-referencing verses with other similar verses using footnotes. For some people, having a Bible study to work through along with reading the Bible is helpful. And when you aren’t certain, ask someone you trust who understands the Bible.
The best way to fall in love with God’s Word is to get to better know its Author. It’s cliche now, but read it as a love letter written to you. If someone writes you a love letter, you’ll read it continually until you figure out what it means, and maybe even memorize parts of it along the way. If you can’t figure out something, you’ll consult the author.
The greater your love grows with God, the easier Bible reading becomes—and the more enjoyable. You may even someday say it’s “fun”!
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