Drawing by DALLE - "Line drawing of man reading the Bible"
Read the Bible - but why?
Taking one of my sons around to university open days some years ago, I was surprised by the number of times professors and students encouraged the would-be-students to read the Bible before studying English at their hallowed institution.
The Bible has shaped English Literature, and so much else about western life, that to ignore it would be folly, was the general jist.
But that isn't the reason I am suggesting we read the Bible in 2023. The logic - and everyone who reads the Bible regularly will assent - is that the Bible transforms life. Because it is God's inspired and powerful Word to mankind.
If you are not yet a believer, reading it will open your eyes spiritually - or should I say, God will use his Word to open your eyes - if you are prepared to read with humility.
If you are a believer, no daily activity will revolutionize your life for the good, more than reading the Bible. The light, wisdom, guidance, grace, hope, forgiveness and love of God are all communicated to us, in the first place, through his Word.
But the Bible is a big book, 66 books in one, two testaments together. How does one start? Where does one start? Here are seven tips, I hope you will find helpful. They are only tips, you may find a different or better way.
#1 Have a system
Just as an archer hits nothing without aiming at something, so you are unlikely to make much progress without some plan in mind. You may not hit bullseye, you may miss the target altogether on some days, but a target is better than no target. Will you read through one book, chapter by chapter, or story by story? Will you use one of the many read-in-a-year schemes? (See below.)
#2 Choose a time during the Day
Are you a morning lark or an evening owl? Will you find some time in your lunch break? All of life's activities are habit-forming, we get into good habits and we get out of them by repetition. Same with Bible reading. Commit to a certain time each day - if you can.
#3 Determine a Duration
I know this is sounding programmatic, but it can be helpful to plan to read for a certain amount of time each day. It does not have to be long, start off with 10-15 minutes? It's your shout.
#4 Begin with prayer
If you're serious about hearing from God, why don't you begin with a prayer, something like Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law.” After you've read, meditate on the words, pray about them, ask God to show you what he wants you to learn that very day.
#5 Don't get into guilt trips
Scripture reading is meant to be a blessing, not a curse. The problem with all good habits is that we may feel guilty if we miss a day or two. Recognize this guilt as false. If your plan says "read the Bible in 365 days", it does not matter if it takes twice or ten times that long!
#6 If you struggle on your own, read with a friend
Not everyone finds sole reading easy, if that's you, if you need collegiate encouragement, read with a friend and discuss what you discover.
#7 If this is your first read, start in the New Testament
If you're new to Bible reading, start in the New Testament, perhaps Mark's Gospel. Read one short story at a time - you will be amazed at how much light shines out of such few words.
Finally, a few words about reading plans.
Read the Bible through a year plans. This is an ambitious idea but if you want to get a good bird's eye view of Scripture it's one way to go. Download the 52-week plan HERE, print it out and put a tick in the boxes once read. Or use the famous Robert Murray M'Cheyne plan. Download it HERE.
There are online helps such as Project 3:45, but beware of online schemes that are nothing but bait for buying other stuff. Indeed if they're not giving out their plan for free, no strings attached, I suggest that you get out before the net closes in.
Read through the Bible, Bibles. You can buy a Book which has divided the Bible into 365 parts, which makes it easy to work your way through. The advantage of this system is that if you miss a day or two, the bookmark tells you where you left off. Big deal if it takes you two or even three years.
Daily Light. This is a famous little book where someone has put Bible verses together around a common theme, one set for the morning and another set for the evening. It shouldn't be used as a long term solution, but can be very helpful for a "ring the changes" season.
Daily Devotional helps. A little like "Daily Light" but more useful are the devotional aids written by authors such as Charles Spurgeon ("Morning and Evening") by Timothy Keller ("My Rock and Refuge") or by John Stott ("Through the Bible, through the Year")
For families. There is no better children's Bible than "The Child's Bible" by Catherine Vos, buy it HERE. What a joy to read the Bible through with our children while they are young. Ours is very worn from reading to our four children.