Bible Reading -Tools, Tips and Tricks
Reading the Bible can be a rewarding and enriching experience, but it can also be challenging and daunting. The Bible is a collection of 66 books written by different authors over thousands of years, covering various topics such as history, prophecy, poetry, wisdom, and theology. While at the same time, the Bible is a continuous narrative of God and His people. How can we approach this ancient and sacred text in a way that helps us grow in our faith and understanding of God?
Here are some tools, tips, and tricks that I have found helpful in my own journey of reading the Bible:
The first tool costs you nothing, and you do not need specialized equipment. Pray before you read. Ask God to open your eyes, ears, and heart to what He wants to say to you through His word. Pray for wisdom, guidance, and insight as you read. Pray that the Holy Spirit will illuminate the meaning and application of the scriptures for your life.
Choose a translation that works for you. There are many different translations of the bible available today, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Some are more literal, while others are more dynamic. Some are more formal, while others are more conversational. Some are more scholarly, while others are more accessible. Find a translation that suits your preference and level of understanding. You can also compare different translations to understand the original meaning fully.
Try a Chronological Bible. Many of us take a very natural approach to reading the Bible; we start at the beginning and read to the end. This method works for almost every book we have ever read, but so much for the Bible. The Bible, while it is somewhat chronological, it also repeats periods of time, and many of the books overlap one another. This is where the use of a chronological Bible can be helpful at putting the narrative in chronological order pulling and combing books to help the narrative flow. I have given away many chronological Bibles over the years to those who wanted to try them.
Use a Study Bible. A study Bible is a helpful tool for anyone who wants to understand the Bible better. A study Bible contains notes, maps, charts, cross-references, and other features that help explain the biblical text's historical, cultural, and theological context. A study Bible can also help you apply the Bible to your life and grow in your faith. Using a study Bible is not a substitute for a thoughtful reading of the Bible itself but a supplement that can enhance your reading experience and deepen your knowledge of God's word.
3) Bible Highlighter & Pens
Marking in your bible can be a helpful way to study and remember God's word. It can help you to highlight important verses, themes, or topics that you want to revisit later. It can also help you to organize your thoughts and insights as you read and meditate on the scriptures. Marking in your bible can also make it more personal and meaningful to you, as you can see how God has spoken to you through his word over time. Some ways to mark in your bible are using different colors, symbols, or notes to indicate different aspects of the text, such as promises, commands, warnings, prophecies, or cross-references.
4) Bible Journal / Notebook
You can also use a journal or a notebook to write down your reflections, questions, or applications of what you read. Marking in your bible is not a requirement or a rule, but a personal preference and a tool for spiritual growth. You should always respect your bible as God's word and treat it with reverence and care. Watch for the new Pondering God Bible Journal being released this summer.
4) Bible Apps
A Bible App can help you in many ways when you want to study the Word of God. Here are some of the benefits of using a Bible App:
- You can access different versions and translations of the Bible and compare them side by side. This can help you understand the meaning and context of the verses better.
- You can search for specific words, phrases, topics, or passages in the Bible and find relevant results quickly and easily. This can help you find answers to your questions or explore your interests.
- You can bookmark, highlight, or take notes on the verses that you want to remember or reflect on. This can help you personalize your Bible reading and keep track of your progress.
- You can join a community of other Bible readers and share your insights, questions, or prayer requests. This can help you grow in your faith and learn from others.
- You can access various resources and tools to enhance your Bible reading, such as devotionals, commentaries, dictionaries, maps, videos, and more. This can help you deepen your knowledge and appreciation of the Bible.
- You can have the app read the Bible aloud to you while you follow along; this is a great way to get into the word. I do this often!
A Bible App can be a great companion when reading the Bible. It can make your Bible reading more convenient, engaging, and meaningful. Try it out today and see for yourself!
YouVersion Bible App
This is both an online Bible and a phone/tablet app. There are reading plans, a mobile app, social integration, devotions, reading plans, and the ability to take notes and synchronize across all of your devices. Love this one!
This is the easiest, most popular site for looking up anything in the Bible. The site contains almost any translation in almost any language you can think of. One of my favorite features is the ability to compare multiple translations side-by-side on one screen. Search by Passage, Keyword, or Topic. There’s also an app available for your mobile device.
Logos Bible Software This software is amazing and is free for basic reading (although it can become expensive). If you are a pastor, Bible teacher, author, or plan on doing a lot of in-depth Bible study, I haven’t found anything better. You can start with a basic package and add thousands of books to your library. It is integrated with an online Bible and an app. I use this one often in my study.
1) Use a reading plan or a devotional guide. Reading the Bible can be overwhelming if you don't have a clear direction or goal. A reading plan or a devotional guide can help you stay on track and focus on a specific theme or portion of the bible. You can find many reading plans or devotional guides online or in print, or create your own based on your interests and needs.
2) Read in context. The Bible is not a random collection of verses or stories but a coherent narrative that reveals God's character and plan for humanity. To understand the bible better, we need to read it in context: the historical, cultural, literary, and theological context of each book and passage. This will help us avoid misinterpretation or misapplication of the scriptures. You can use tools such as commentaries, dictionaries, maps, timelines, and cross-references to help you with this.
3) Read with others. Reading the Bible is not only a personal activity but also a communal one. We can learn from each other's perspectives and insights as we read the bible together. We can also encourage, challenge, and support each other as we apply the Bible to our lives. You can join a bible study group, a small group, or a church service where you can read and discuss the bible with others.
4) Read for application. Reading the Bible is not an end but a means to an end: to know God more and live according to His will. As we read the bible, we should ask ourselves: What does this passage teach me about God? What does this passage teach me about myself? What does this passage teach me about how I should live? How can I apply this passage to my current situation? How can I share this passage with others?
So it is probably time to come clean and tell you there are no tricks to reading the Bible. The best way to read the Bible is to read it regularly, prayerfully, and attentively. Reading the Bible regularly means making it a habit to spend time with God's word every day. Reading the Bible prayerfully means asking God to speak to you through his word and to help you apply it to your life. Reading the bible attentively means paying attention to the context, the genre, and the main message of each passage. By reading the Bible this way, you will grow in your knowledge and love of God and his will for you.
I hope these tools, tips, and tricks will help you read the Bible more joyfully and confidently. Remember that reading the bible is not a duty or a burden but a privilege and a blessing. God has given us His word as a gift of love and grace, so let us receive it with gratitude and reverence.
You might also want to check out our 3 part series on Reading the Bible from our Podcast. Episodes 12, 14 and 16.
Ponder this: Try sharing this post with a friend and invite them to begin a Bible Reading journey together, I promise it is an amazing journey made more fun with a friend.