A Short Guide for Bible-Reading

“If I told you there were millions of dollars in gold buried in your backyard, wouldn’t you do whatever it takes to learn how to dig it up?” This is what a mentor told me when I tried explaining to him that I didn’t know how to read my Bible. See, what he knew, and what I came to learn, is that God’s Word is a treasure unlike any other. And once 20-year-old-me stopped making excuses, and started learning to ‘excavate’, I saw my life begin to radically change from all directions.

And this isn’t just part of my personal testimony, but the research on ‘regular Bible reading’ has shown transformative patterns for those who partake.

Stats for Regular Study

From The Center of Bible Engagement (https://www.backtothebible.org/research)
When you read the Bible 4x/week…
  • Loneliness drops 30%
  • Anger issues drop 32%
  • Relational conflict drops 40%
  • Alcoholism drops 57%
  • Pornography usage drops 59%

There were also positives reported…
  • Sharing your faith increases 200%
  • Discipling others increases 230%

Another study found that regularly reading Scripture and paying attention to your mental health reduces the symptoms of PTSD, while forgiveness, compassion, and a sense of purpose rise.

Statistical Analysis

I’d be a fool to expect that all of your problems will magically disappear when you start reading your Bible. But what the data tells us, along with many testimonies of saints throughout the church, is that regular Bible reading will change your perspective and your attitudes in whatever life throws at you. Here’s what I think this habit does: 1) Regular Bible reading reminds you that God is in control, so you don’t have to be. Quite the weight lifted! 2) Regular Bible reading reminds you that God is ever-present, and that you won’t face any battles alone, today. You could see how this awareness might fill you will courage in the face of the fiercest trials.

To play off one of the major themes of the Old Testament, we are a forgetful people. And so that’s why I think this magic number of ‘4 times per week’ is what really moves the needle in our lives. That if we read more often than not, we are more likely to remember God’s good plans for our lives, and God’s good grace for every circumstance.

But these two guesses are my attempt at applying logic to something that is much more spiritual, and incalculable - which is God’s transformative grace that is found in seeking Him. See, God’s Scriptures teach us that as we see Him more clearly, we are made like Him, not just when we step into eternity (1 John 3:2), but even day by day (2 Corinthians 3:18). Because as you see Jesus more clearly, your love for Him, His people, and His mission grows. As His Word abides in you, and you in Him, your ceiling of joy is raised to new heights as you begin to understand the love He has for his children (John 15:7-11, 1 John 1:3-4). As you are made like Him, you more tangibly walk in the fruits of His Spirit (John 15:5) as you turn away from ungodly habits and desires (1 John 2:16-17).

To become a follower of Jesus isn’t just to adopt a new ideology, but to be His follower is to be a life-longer learner, who is constantly challenged and shaped by Him. Bible reading, then, is not the end goal, but it serves as a window into the heart of God, where we see Him, hear from Him, enjoy Him, and as a result, are transformed by Him (Romans 12:2). And in case you don’t know where to start, I want to leave you with some advice, and a few methods to apply.

Keys for Regular Study

Find a regular rhythm
It’s hard to argue that ‘first thing in the morning’ isn’t the best time of day, but everyone is different. I have had seasons where I finish work and commit a few minutes to Bible reading before heading home. In younger seasons, my best thinking came around 9pm, as so that’s when I sat down to read. It doesn’t matter when you read, but finding a regular time will help form the habit.

Take small bites
There is undoubtable value in a plan to read the Bible in a year, but if you are just now learning this discipline, I’d encourage you to start small. Marathon runners don’t begin with hours of running. They build their endurance over time. The same can be true for you. Pick a book (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John if you are new to the Bible) and read one section in a sitting, making the most of a short read. ex. Mark 1:1-8

Realize the Bible isn’t about you
The Bible is FOR you, but not ABOUT you. As I said earlier, we read to interact with God, so go in with this as your main question; “What does this tell me about God?”. Then, “What does this say about mankind?”. Finally, “Is there anything I should pray/do in response to this passage?”. First, looking to God, and moving toward God’s plans for you.

Keep a journal handy
It is especially helpful to write your notes for each passage - at least your answers to the 3 questions above. For me, writing helps to keep me focused, even if my answers are one line. It’s also a place where I will write down whatever questions I have about the text - which I chew on throughout the day.

When the world encourages mediation, they tell you to “empty your mind”. But Christian meditation entirely different. Instead of emptying our minds, we remove every distraction, and fill our minds with the things of God. Take Joshua 1:8 for example, “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.” Or Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” So as you feast on God’s Word, savor slowly before moving on.

Discuss in community
With your Community Group, friends, significant other, or a mentor - take your findings and your questions to them. Vocalizing these things to others not only helps you remember them, but it often serves as an encouragement to those around you. Not only that, but it’s an obvious place to submit your questions. Your walk with Jesus is personal, but not private - we are all meant to walk together.

In Conclusion

There are many ways to build the discipline of Bible-reading, but the most important key is to just start. As with most things in life, we typically need practice to become comfortable in our Bibles, let alone proficient with them. You'll need plenty of practice, and plenty of prayer. Theologians teach us what is called the 'doctrine of illumination', which in it's most simple explanation, is that you and I need God to teach us about God (Psalm 119:18, 1 Corinthians 2:10-13). That's good news, because God loves to reveal the truth to those who seek it (Jeremiah 29:13).

If you have any questions, or need any additional tips, don't hesitate to reach out to me (mitch@sojournwoodstock.com) or anyone else on our staff. We would be happy to walk with you in your first steps of Bible-reading. Let the treasure hunting begin!
Mitch Pinion
Content & Storytelling
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