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How to Read the Bible & Where to Start for Beginners

spiritual growth May 21, 2021

There are many ways to read the Bible. I’m going to share my top tips and where to start reading the Bible for beginners, but the best way to read the Bible is discovering the method that works best for you.

Your time spent reading and meditating on God’s Word is between you and God and it’s important to find a routine or method that works for you.

If you’re a beginner or new to reading the Bible, you may be wondering how to start reading the Bible or what order to read the Bible in.

For the longest time, I did not know how to read the Bible or have any desire to read it, but reading the Bible is how I start every morning.

In this blog post, we will talk about different strategies and tips on how to read the Bible for all it’s worth, including:

  • Bible verses about reading the Bible
  • How to read the Bible on your own & where to start
  • How long it takes to read the Bible
  • How to meditate on God’s Word using the SOAP method Bible study
  • Why memorizing scripture is important
  • Free Bible reading plans for beginners
  • Which bible translation you should read

Bible Verses About Reading the Bible – Importance of Reading the Bible

Reading the Bible is like reading the manual of life. It’s our #1 way we can learn about God and who he is, and it’s the #1 way we learn who we are and how we are called to live life.

And for most Christians, reading God's Word is the biggest way we can develop our personal relationship with God.

If you are looking to build your relationship with God, download a free, Spiritual Goals Worksheet, which will help you define how you are going to grow spiritually.

This worksheet includes examples of spiritual goals to consider that will help you set your own plan for reading the Bible and growing closer to God.

The Word is God himself, and the more we read the Bible, the more we understand the heart of God.

God speaks to us when we read the Bible through the Holy Spirit; reading the Bible is one of the primary ways that God speaks to us.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1 ESV

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24 ESV

God’s Word teaches us how to live and guides each one of us personally as we seek God’s guidance for our lives.

It doesn’t matter what decision or situation you are facing. If you are praying about whether you should take that job, marry that person, or move to a new city – God will speak to you as you pray and read his Word.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

God’s Word also builds our faith. When we read the Bible, we see all that God has done and it builds our faith. We read the stories of all the miracles he’s performed, we see how much God loves us no matter what, and we read about the promises and blessings that God has for us.

The Bible tells us over and over that God is faithful, and reading about God in the Bible reminds me that the same God who was faithful for the Israelites is the same God who is faithful in my life.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17 NKJV

Obeying God’s Word is the key to success. God tells us multiple times throughout the Bible that we will prosper and succeed when we obey his Word and walk in his ways.

And in order to obey God’s Word, we have to study it. We have to read it and meditate on it, understanding what God says about certain situations and topics.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” – Joshua 1:8 ESV

“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.” – Psalm 1:1-2 NKJV

And God’s Word is powerful. When we speak God’s Word, we are declaring things to come into existence. God responds when we speak his Word.

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”- Isaiah 55:11

God's Word is our biggest weapon to fight off the Enemy. Even the Devil has to obey God’s Word when it is spoken. We see this in Matthew 4 when Jesus was tempted by the Devil.

The Devil tried to tempt him but Jesus responded by declaring God’s Word. Notice how the Devil even tried deceiving Jesus by distorting God’s Word – that is why it is so important to study and know God’s Word so you can discern God’s truth.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12 ESV

How to Start Reading the Bible – How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth

The first step to reading the Bible is deciding to put God first and to make the Bible a priority. Showing up everyday to read the Bible is half the battle. 

And once you sit down to read, it's important to understand how you should meditate on God's Word.

Thanks to a wise Pastor at my church, Ps. Kwacha Davis pointed out that God doesn’t say that you should “read the Bible.”

Rather, God says that you should meditate on his Word, to observe it carefully, and to study the Word of God.

The best way to read the Bible for all it’s worth is to read it slowly. Don’t be in a rush.

Reading the Bible shouldn’t feel like a chore or something you check off on your to do list every day.

God wants us to study his Word so that it can live in our hearts. He wants to speak to us through his Word and he wants us to live out the Word in our everyday lives.

God wants you to have revelations when you read the Bible, where you have lightbulb moments of understanding where God reveals something about a particular situation.

As you read the Bible, it’s important to remember that God wants you to soak up his Word. Reading the Bible isn’t about how fast you can read the Bible, it’s about how much you can learn and how you start living God’s Word in your life.

So how long does it take to read the Bible?

Some people make it a goal to read the Bible in a year. While others never actually read the entire Bible.

You should take as long as you need to read the Bible, as long as you are truly studying and meditating on God’s Word and allowing it to become a part of your life.

If you only read one bible verse or passage a day, and you truly meditate on it and apply it to your life, that is more important than rushing through the Bible in a certain period of time.

Tips for Meditating on God’s Word

The best way to read the Bible is to focus on words or bible verses that seem to speak right to you. Sometimes it will feel like these verses jump off the page, or maybe you feel something inside of you as you read it.

This means that God is trying to get your attention; this means he is speaking to you.

Highlight, underline, and read these scriptures again. God is speaking to you, and it’s important to pause and reflect on why this verse may be highlighted to you.

Think about the context of the verse and who it’s coming from. Bible verses can be spoken from God directly or through someone else.

When reading through a passage that is telling a story, I always try and picture myself in the person’s shoes. Sometimes the Bible doesn’t always include what a person says or how they feel.

What were they thinking? What were they feeling? What would they have said in this situation?

These are examples of good questions to ask when studying the Bible.

Sometimes, we can read through stories and miracles in the Bible like it’s normal, but when we put ourselves in the person’s shoes, we understand what God is showing us through these scriptures.

People also talk about the SOAP method Bible study which is a way to study and meditate on God’s Word. Following the SOAP method allows you to study and read God’s Word slowly so you see what God is trying to teach you.

SOAP Method Bible study

S – Scripture

Write out a scripture or bible verse that speaks to you.

O – Observation

What stands out to you about this verse? What is the context of the verse? Who is God speaking to in this verse?

A – Application

How does this verse apply to your own life? How does it apply to a specific situation you are facing?

P – Pray

Pray and ask God how he wants you to apply this verse to your life.

Why You Should Memorize Scripture

Memorizing scripture is another powerful way we can meditate and live out God’s Word in our life.

When I take the time to memorize bible verses, I am able to pray and recite them in times of need.

For example, when I was struggling to resist temptation from sexual sin, I memorized Psalm 51:10 so I was able to pray this verse out loud whenever I felt tempted.

Ways to Memorize Scripture

Write bible verses on index cards – This was the best method that helped me memorize scripture. I got in the habit of writing out the bible verses that spoke to me. Over time, I had a stack of index cards that I could carry with me when I wanted them with me.

I would also carry around a bible verse of the week which helped me memorize it.

Reflect in a journal – You can also write down the scriptures that speak to you in a journal. Reflecting on how God has spoken to you and writing it down is so powerful.

When you write it down, you are able to go back and reflect on how God has spoken to you in the past. This helps you remember and also builds your faith in seasons where you are waiting on God.

Take some time to journal and reflect. You don’t have to spend hours journaling what you read. Sometimes I only journal for 5 or 10 minutes, some days I can journal for an hour.

Create phone alerts with bible verses – My friend sets up phone alerts to notify her of different bible verses throughout the week.

Where to Start Reading the Bible for Beginners

Should you following a bible reading plan or bible study?

Some people like to follow a plan for reading through the Bible, while others like to read as they feel led.

I’ve done both bible plans and bible studies, as well as reading as I feel led, and over time I have to say I prefer reading on my own. For example, some mornings I may want to read a particular story, while other mornings I may want to look up bible verses on a certain topic.

But my husband is the complete opposite. He loves reading through the Bible in a year by following one of the bible reading plans. For the past few years, he’s gotten a new Bible where it already has the plan organized for him. He’s read the Bible chronologically and has also read a version where he reads part of both the Old and New Testament each day.

While I enjoy following a bible plan or bible study for certain topics or during certain time periods, I’ve found that constantly following a bible reading plan was too much structure for me.

But if you’re a beginner to reading the Bible, I recommend using some type of bible reading plan or bible study to get started. This could be following a bible reading plan or a bible study or creating your own plan.

You can download free Bible reading plans here to get started.

Following a plan will help you develop a routine of reading the Bible and will help suggest how much you should read each day or week. If you’re new to reading the Bible, establishing a daily routine can often be the most challenging part of reading the Bible.

Once you’re used to reading the Bible, you can try reading books or passages in the Bible as you feel led.

Recommended Bible Studies or Bible Reading Plans for Beginners

I first did the Discerning the Voice of God Bible study to get into the habit of reading the Bible every day. I surrendered my life to Jesus through this study, so it had a powerful affect on my spiritual growth. If you are a new Christian or just starting to read the Bible, I highly recommend doing this bible study.

 

In general, I recommend checking out Lifeway for their Bible studies. They offer Bible studies by many well-known Christian authors on various topics.

If you’re looking to read the Bible in a year, try searching for 'bible in a year' on Amazon.

I created a set of free Bible reading plans that are downloadable as a pdf. These Bible reading plans are a great way to start reading the Bible as a beginner, or if you aren't sure what to read next in the Bible.

There are also a lot of free bible reading plans on Pinterest or on the Bible Reading App, where you can find plans by different topics or books in the Bible.

If you're looking to read a summer devotional for summer or vacation, you can check out a few of my beach devotions and my 40-day summer devotional, God, You, & The Ocean Blue.

How to Read the Bible on Your Own

If you aren’t following a bible reading plan or bible study, below are some tips and strategies to help you read the Bible on your own.

Choosing one or a few of these strategies will help you read the Bible with intention so you don’t wake up each morning asking yourself, ‘What should I read now? Where do I start reading the Bible?’

And if you’re wondering what order to read the Bible in, don’t worry, you don’t have to read the Bible in chronological order.

Again, the best way to read the Bible is to discover the method that works best for YOU.

Read a Psalm or Proverb a day

Starting your bible reading off with a Psalm or Proverb is a great way to get started. Most Psalms and Proverbs are shorter in nature, and they are broken up where you can read them on their own without needing much context.

Have you ever noticed that there are 31 proverbs?

At the start of the next 31-day month, you could start reading one Proverb a day in order to read through the entire book.

You could do the same method for reading through the Psalms. There are 150 Psalms in the Bible so you could always double or triple the day’s date to read different Psalms.

Read Through the Gospels

I highly recommend starting reading the New Testament by reading the gospels. It’s hard to understand how to live life as a Christian or how to be a follower of Christ without reading and understanding what Jesus did for us as shown in the gospels.

The gospels are the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and if you’ve read all of them, you’ll notice how some stories and miracles are repeated. They were written by different people, so some of them include similar events.

Matthew and John have been my favorite gospels to read and I find myself returning to these books whenever I want to learn more about Jesus, especially around Christmas and Easter.

Jesus’ life and ministry is the heart of the gospel message, and you’ll see and understand why Jesus died on the cross for you in a whole new light.

And you’ll be amazed at all the miracles Jesus performed to heal and save his people.

Pick a Book to Read in the New Testament

After the gospels, a lot of books in the New Testament seem to be focused on how we are supposed to live as Christians. They provide a lot of teaching and instruction on how to leave behind the old life while becoming more like Christ.

And a lot of the books in the New Testament are short and can be read in a few days.

Some of my favorite books to read in the New Testament:

Acts - I love reading through Acts as it talks about the Holy Spirit and the formation of the earliest churches. Acts takes place right after Jesus’ resurrection, and I love reading how his disciples and other believers were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and started to spread the love and truth about Jesus Christ around the world.

1 Corinthians – Discusses how important it is to pursue purity and how to flee from lust and sexual immorality.

Ephesians – Whether you are a new believer or have known God for a while, I always get so much from reading Ephesians. God talks about rooting yourself in Jesus, being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and living like Christ to fulfill the calling he’s given you.

Philippians – This book helps me have the mind and attitude of Christ and inspires me to live like Christ more in my everyday life.

1 Timothy & 2 Timothy – Teaches me how to lead and serve others in ministry and how to represent Christ as a leader.

John 1 and John 2 – Whenever I want to read about how much God loves me and how to best love others, these books always speak to me about love.

Pick a Story or Book to Read in the Old Testament

While the New Testament focuses more on Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Christian living, I love reading through the stories in the Old Testament.

Some of my favorite stories in the Bible are in the Old Testament, and God has spoken to me and revealed powerful revelations about my own life as I read through the stories we all hear about.

And these stories are so good! So many stories in the Old Testament should become movies, there are so many twists and turns.

My favorite books and stories to read in the Old Testament:

Genesis 12 – 25 – The story of Abraham & Sarah and how God promised to multiply their descendants through their family.

Genesis 37 – 50 – While you can read about Abraham’s offspring Isaac & Jacob in Genesis, I always love reading the story of Joseph and how his brothers sold him into slavery and how he became a leader in Egypt.

Exodus – Deuteronomy - The story of Moses and how he led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness.

Joshua - The story of Joshua and how he led the Israelites into the Promised Land after 40 years in the wilderness.

Ruth – The story of Ruth and how she put her trust and hope in God, and how God wrote her love story with Boaz.

1 Samuel 16 – 17 – The story of David & Goliath. God speaks to me in such a fresh way every time I read this popular bible story that I grew up learning about.

Nehemiah – The story of how Nehemiah rose up as a leader to rebuild the Jerusalem wall, despite all the opposition he faced around him.

Esther – The story of how God positioned Esther & how Esther chose to be bold to save her people for such a time as this.

Psalms & Proverbs – I love starting my bible reading time with a Psalm or Proverb.

Hosea – I love reading how God used Hosea & Gomer’s love story to depict his love for his people.

Download some free Bible reading plans for beginners for a guide as you study different books and stories in the Bible.

Which Bible Translation Should You Read?

Finding the right Bible translation is important to make sure you are getting the most out of reading the Bible.

Some of my favorite translations are the NLT, CSB, NIV, and ESV.

My first Bible was an NLT translation and now I am reading the Bible shown in the picture above, which is a Women's Study Bible in the CSB version.

To see different translations and decide which one is right for you, you can read bible verses and compare translations on the Bible Reading App or through online Bible sites, like BibleGateway.

When you select different translations for the same bible verse, you’ll be able to see which translation you have a preference for.

The Message (MSG) and Passion (TPT) translations also are becoming popular as they are more modern and say things like it is, but I do not recommend reading one of these as your main Bible.

I enjoy looking up certain bible verses or passages in the MSG and TPT translations as I’m reflecting on a specific verse, but these translations have been known to be more translated than the others so they should not be your sole source of God’s Word.

Formats for Reading the Bible

Did you know that you can also listen to the Bible through audio and read the Bible on an app?

You can listen to the Bible through Audible or the Bible Reading App.

Or you can read the Bible electronically through the Bible Reading App.

And if you want to watch the Bible come to life, you have to watch The Chosen!

Now I don’t recommend watching Christian movies or TV shows as your main source for receiving God’s Word, but when you need some extra inspiration, The Chosen will get you motivated to read more about Jesus and all the miracles he performed in the gospels.

While there are so many ways you can read the Bible, it’s important to read and study the Bible for yourself. When you rely on hearing God’s Word from your pastors at your church or through other’s revelations through Instagram, you are missing out on how God wants to speak to you directly.

God wants you to have your own revelations, and reading the Bible for yourself is the best way to hear from God.

Reading Devotionals to Meditate on God’s Word

I love devotionals but they should not replace reading the actual Bible. Most devotionals include one or a few bible verses and a summary to reflect on.

Again, devotionals often include the author’s opinion and revelations, which can be useful, but devotionals should be used to supplement your bible reading.

I like to start my morning time with God by reading a devotional, I think of a devotional book as my warm-up. It only takes a few minutes and it gets me fired up to read the Bible, which is like the main workout.

And I like to end my day with a devotional before bed as an easy way to read God’s Word at night.

If you're looking for some beach devotions for summer or to read on vacation, check out my 40-day summer devotional pdf, God, You, & The Ocean Blue.

Best Devotionals for Women

Awaken by Priscilla Shirer

100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs

100 Days of Believing Bigger by Marshawn Evans Daniels

Embraced by Lysa TerKeurst

Strong by Lisa Bevere

Do you want to strengthen your relationship with God?

Download a free, Spiritual Goals Worksheet, for examples of how you can build a relationship with God in 10 different areas and to set your own spiritual goals.

With Love,

Note: This post includes affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means I may earn a commission from a purchase which helps fund my blog at no extra cost to you.

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