The point of our Practicing Faith exercise is to help you cultivate a regular “practice” of reading the Bible in your life. If you are anything like me, you’ve tried, and at times it has felt boring or difficult to understand. I’d like to give you some pointers that have helped me over my life, maybe some of them will help you!
Know the Why!
You can read the Bible for information, or you can read it for transformation. The point of Cultivate is to help you learn to read it for life transformation. Yes learning is important, and there is a need for all of us to study the Bible. But my goal is to help you read for personal devotion and growth in your relationship with Jesus.
Choose a Time and Place
Choose a time and place that you know will work. When I was young the best time for me was very late at night. Like midnight 🙂 Now that I’m in my 40’s it’s much earlier….like 8am. The point is, chose a time and a place that will help you to do it consistently. Are you a morning person? Do you find your mind is more settled at night? If you read in bed will you fall asleep? If you wait till night time will you forget? Pick a time and place that you love and that will make you excited to read.
Set a Goal
I love accomplishing goals I set. Decide how many times you want to try and read the Bible in a week. Ideally a “practice” is something you do every day, but if you aren’t reading at all right now, maybe start with 3 times a week and build from there?
Quality over Quantity
For me, I would rather read 5-10 verses and really think about them, maybe even read them again, and pray about them, then read a whole chapter, or a whole book. Don’t get me wrong, it is good to read larger sections too. But in general when I am reading for devotions I focus on a smaller section and apply it to my life.
The Bible is a library of books that convey a unified message of God’s redemption story for humanity. However, not all books are as easy to understand as others. If you are new to reading the Bible I would suggest the following:
- The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John): They are the stories of Jesus’ life and are easy to read and super exciting and interesting.
- The Short Letters (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, James, etc): These are letters that early leaders wrote to early Christians. They are short and contain tons of life application.
- The Psalms: Are you poetic or artistic? These are so great to read if you love poetry and art.
- The Proverbs: Are you a thinker? These are great wisdom for life and easy to apply – you can read one a day!
You may also discover that there are many different “translations” to the Bible. I find the easiest to understand that is very accurate to the text is the New International Version (NIV). Or there are so many you can try out a few and see what works best for you!
Pray before, during, and after reading. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about how what you are reading can impact your heart.
If there are things you don’t understand, don’t worry! You can always ask someone you trust who is further along in their understanding of the Bible.
Journal Your Thoughts
I have always found it helpful to write down the verse I’ve read and what God is showing me. That way I don’t forget!
Give Yourself a Break
If you read one day and you “get nothing out of it,” don’t sweat it. No big deal. Just come back another day. Honestly, most of the time when you feel this way, God is actually doing something in your heart you just haven’t noticed what it is yet. Either way, don’t be hard on yourself or get discouraged. If you do get discouraged, reach out to someone!