How I Read My Bible


Jefferson Bethke offers 4 practical suggestions for studying the bible in hopes of pushing you into deeper intimacy with God.

I get a frequent amount of emails about “where to start” when reading the bible. Let’s be honest, it’s a daunting book. Most people want to be really proactive and they start reading it front-to-back but usually fall asleep by Leviticus. I thought I’d take some time to offer some practical things I use to study the bible in hopes that it’ll push us all deeper into intimacy with our creator.

  1. Take time to pause and ask God to speak before you open the bible.

One of the worst things someone can do is start reading the bible without ever acknowledging the One who speaks in it. The bible is such a big book we can make it say whatever we want. Want to be really rich and greedy with your money? There’s a verse for that. Want to get an unbiblical divorce? There’s a verse for that. Before we ever open the scriptures we need to acknowledge God as God and us as not. We need to place the scriptures above us, letting them inform us, rather than putting them below us, letting us inform them. Also I dare you to ask God to reveal Himself to you before you open it. He is there and He will. This little nugget transformed my bible reading. Every morning it’s a simple prayer, but I usually just say, “God, reveal yourself to me in these pages. Show me what you want to show me, teach me what you want to teach me, and let me close it having heard from you.”

  1. Get a plan

Really early on in my Christian walk I loved to read the Scriptures but had no idea how. It intimidated me. Sometimes I would just open it to wherever and start reading with little to no context of the passage at all. It’s the Christian version of a wigi board. One of the most helpful things is I got myself a reading plan that walked me through certain passages of the scripture everyday. The one I usually do now has me reading a section from the Psalms, OT, & NT everyday. The biggest thing with a reading plan, is don’t use it as a morality check but use it as a structure to push you closer to God. If you miss a day(s), which you will, keep it moving. It’s not about finishing the bible in a year, it’s about having a structure that frees you up to dig into God more. 

  1. Switch it up

One of my favorite things to do is listen to the bible on audio. My favorite audio bible is the Bible Experience. It is a dramatized version of the bible that doesn’t just read the verses but includes sounds and dramatization to fit the context. So when Jesus is entering Jerusalem you can hear donkeys, people walking on dirt, etc. It really brings it to life. For me it really helps to switch up my plan also. When I read at the exact same time the exact same way everyday it seems to make it a little stale. Read it sometimes in your head. Read it out loud. Read it inside. Read it outside. Listen to it while working out, driving, etc. A really interesting thing to do is copy and paste books of the bible into Microsoft Word and take out all the chapter and verse numbers. Not knowing exactly what verse you are in makes your mind read it much more like a letter or story. It’s fun and refreshing.

  1. Journal about what you’ve learned

For me I have a moleskin that I write everything in (they seriously are the best). Write what God just taught you. Write things that stuck out. Write questions you have for God. Write prayers. Write anything. It not only helps you retain more, but for a lot of us writing is a way of actually processing what we just read.

By no means is this complete, exhaustive, or exclusive. This are just some things I’ve used in my personal reading. Do whatever connects you to God the closest and fits your personality.

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