How to read the Bible

If you believe that the Bible is God’s word to us today, telling us the history of his relationship with his creation and outlining the best way to live our lives, then it’s important to read it regularly.

But how do you begin to read the Bible? Do you start at the beginning and simply read through to the end? Do you choose familiar passages and miss out the hard or apparently incomprehensible ones? Do you read the exciting bits and ignore the boring bits?

This is the GIFT group guide to reading the Bible. Start by setting a regular time aside to read and pray – be realistic about how often and how long you can manage – and make every effort to keep that time undisturbed and free of distractions. Then choose what to read … if you need help, there are many guides published with outlines for reading through a book or a topic with a short passage for every day (see below for some suggestions).

Then use this outline to pray and to read through the passage you have chosen …

Prayer is the starting point; remember, you’re beginning a dialogue. Before you read the Bible, ask God to help you understand the passage for the day. God, through the Holy Spirit, is the “author” of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). He’s given us his written Word to communicate his eternal truth. So ask God to speak to you as you read. As the boy Samuel was taught to pray “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9), so let that be your prayerful attitude as you start your time with God.

Then read slowly and carefully through the Bible passage. Sometimes, you’ll want to read the passage more than once. You may also find it helpful to read the preceding or following passages to get the context. Take the time to read it as thoroughly as you can, expecting God to answer your prayer for understanding of his Word.


Ask these questions …

  • What does this passage say? What is its main point?
  • What does this passage teach me about God―the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit?
  • What does it reveal about God, or about me?
  • What does this passage teach me about the Christian life? Is there a command to obey, a promise to claim, a warning to heed? Is there an example to follow or an error to avoid?
  • What is the main lesson of the passage?
  • What does it require of me now, in thought, word or action? at home, work, school or church?

Your goal is to use what you’ve learned to become more like Jesus.

End your time in God’s Word as you began, in prayer. Make your discoveries from the Bible the basis of your prayer time. Ask God to help you live out and apply what you learned that day. Thank God for meeting with you and sharing his Word with you.

Pray it in, live it out!

You might want to keep a notebook to record your answers and any particular prayers you have each day. Or it might simply help to write down the things that pop into your mind and threaten to distract you, so you can forget them again and concentrate on what you are doing!


Printed …

SU (Scripture Union) has notes for different ages and abilities

BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship) publish daily reading notes and seasonal guides

The Good Book Company also publish a comprehensive range of materials, including smart phone apps

Every Day with Jesus (CWR) is a popular source of daily reading guides

Online …

WordLive is an online resource from Scripture Union (SU)

Word for Today from UCB is a simple thought for the day based on a bible verse

You’ve Got the Time from the Bible Society is an audio recording of the new Testament together with a reading guide – ideal for listening while in the car or busy with something else

Bible Gateway, and all offer a variety of resources for bible study

YouVersion is an online bible programme that is also available as a smart phone app

Don’t be overwhelmed by so many options and choices … simply choose one and get started. Or contact us for suggestions.


2 Responses to How to read the Bible

  1. […] Keep looking into God’s word. Yes, Bible reading can become stale and formulaic but at least by persevering you are placing yourself in a position where you can hear God speak. It is possible for God to suddenly surprise us in the middle of a spiritual desert, when a verse or a phrase leaps out at you from the page or you realise something you hadn’t spotted before. Changing your translation or using a different set of notes can help in this regard. And at least be aware of the many resources that are out there, particularly on the web (see our page on How to read the Bible). […]

  2. […] Two ways to live | The Bridge to Life | How to read the Bible […]

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