It is important to read and study the Bible for yourself. Yet, if we’re honest, the Bible can sometimes be hard to understand and we’re not often sure about how we should go about the task of knowing it better. Oftentimes we simply give up or find ourselves randomly reading different sections of the Bible without understanding how it all fits together. These problems can be solved if we will simply commit to following some basic and simple steps to reading and studying the Bible.
1. Get a Bible that you can understand but that is also strongly accurate. We recommend the ESV or the NASB, but there are many other good English versions as well.
2. If possible get a good Study Bible. This will help you understand what the books of the Bible are teaching and will help explain some of the harder to understand parts of the Bible. Some good study Bibles includes the ESV Study Bible and the MacArthur Study Bible.
3. Try and have a set time to read and study the Bible each day. This doesn’t have to be for several hours a day, but at least for a period of time try to seriously read a portion of the Bible. A daily reading plan/guide is great to help you do this.
4. When you prepare to study your Bible sit down with a few tools:
A. Your Bible
B. A pen or highlighter
C. A notebook or note cards
5. When you begin to read, start by asking some basic questions about the passage you are studying:
A. Is this in the Old or New Testament?
B. What section in that particular testament is this passage in?
C. What type of literature am I reading? (Narrative, Law, Poetry, Letters, etc.)
6. If you are using a study Bible make sure you have read the introductions to the book you’re reading and any additional charts or study helps around the passage you are about to read.
7. When you begin to read your passage, try following the these steps:
A. Start by praying. We need God to speak to us in his Word. We cannot understand the Bible apart from God revealing himself to us. Ask God to help you understand what you are reading. Thank him for his Word. Thank him for revealing himself to us in the Bible.
B. In your notebook or note card write down the date and the passage you are reading.
C. Read the passage (chapter or selection of verses) through. As you read ask yourself the following questions: What is this passage telling me about God? Myself? How God has acted in the person of Jesus Christ?
D. Underline or highlight any significant verses, names, or places that you think are important in the passage you read.
E. In your notebook / note card try to summarize what you read in one or two sentences.
F. Go back and reread the verses you underlined and all the study helps or notes if you are using a Study Bible.
G. Write down a significant verse that stood out to you from the passage you read. Periodically go back and reread that verse.
H. Underneath that verse write out in two or three sentences how you can apply and live out what the passage in general or that verse in particular is telling you.
8. As you commit to reading begin to look through or read some great books which can help you understand what you are reading. We all need guides, and there are a lot of resources that can help us make sense of what we are studying. If you’d like some names of some books to get started, ask one of our staff for some suggestions.