How to Read the Bible for the First Time

The Bible isn’t your typical book. It’s words are living and active, with the power to completely transform your life. God wants you to know him personally, understand what he’s doing in the world, and discover your purpose in his bigger story. But, when it comes to reading his word, you may be wondering, where do I start?

Here are a few suggestions:

Pray. God speaks to us through his word, but we need his help to understand it. Every time you open your Bible, begin with a prayer. Try Psalm 119:18 NLT: open my eyes to see wonderful truths in your instructions. And, keep praying! (see Matthew 7:7 NLT)

Choose your Bible. It’s important to find a translation that you can read and understand. Start with your native language (or a language you speak fluently). The Bible App has thousands to choose from, and it’s free to install on your phone or other mobile device. You can even compare over 50 English versions.

Read with others. When we study the Bible together, amazing things happen. God speaks at different times and in different ways; and, sometimes, another person’s comment or insight is exactly what you need to hear. Spend time with at least one or two people, reading and discussing God’s word together, and helping each other apply it to life. Join a Bible study through your local church, and if you can’t find a group, consider starting a new one.

Keep it in context. Have you ever listened to someone on the phone, but only heard bits and pieces of what they were saying? Chances are, it was pretty confusing. The same thing can happen with God’s Word. The Bible was written to an original audience, and it contains many different literary forms. Poetry, narrative, and wisdom are just a few. If we don’t keep the context in mind, we might misinterpret God’s message, and even misapply it to our lives.

But, the Bible was also written for us! Every time you open Scripture, God has something to say directly to you:

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16–17 NLT

Set realistic goals. If you’re excited to read the Bible, then you may be tempted to go really fast. But, it’s helpful to slow down, meditate on each verse, and listen for how God wants you to respond. Plans can help you build a reading habit that’s consistent and sustainable. And, the Bible App offers thousands to explore. Try this Plan to get started.

Don’t stop. You’re going to hit rough patches. You’ll read Scripture that’s difficult to understand and accept, and, sometimes God will feel distant, even when you’re spending regular time in his word. Don’t let this drive you away. Bring your doubts, questions, and frustrations to him; and keep going. God promises good things for those who seek him. (see Hebrews 11:6 NLT)



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