How To Start Reading the Bible (7 practical steps)

Most Christians want to read the Bible more, we have the right intentions. But then we get busy, distracted, we don’t know where to start, or we start reading and get confused.

If you are wondering how to start reading the Bible, then you are in good company. And what I want to do is give you some tips to help you in this process. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and with a little help you can develop a habit that will grow your faith. 

How To Start Reading The Bible 

These seven steps will help you better read and understand the Bible. While they aren’t overly complicated or even very time consuming, if you do these things they will make a big difference. 

So, here’s how to start Bible reading in your daily life. 

1. Choose A Bible Translation

The first thing you need to do is choose the Bible you are going to read. That might seem like an easy thing to do. But there’s as many translations of the Bible as there are toothpaste options at the store. That’s a lot… 

I’ve written a whole guide on this, so I won’t spend too much time on it here (read it here: Bible Translation Guide). 

What you need to know is that most translations fall into two broad categories: Formal Equivalence (word for word translation) or Dynamic Equivalence (thought for thought translation). 

Formal versions risk miscommunicating the original meaning by seeking a literal word. Yet they can be helpful for studying the formal features of the text. 

Dynamic versions more clearly communicate the meaning of the text in modern language. Yet because they are more interpretive they run a much greater risk of misinterpretation. 

Here’s how this looks on a spectrum:

Again, you can read the full post here: What Is The Best Bible Translation?

But if you just want the quick answer here’s what I recommend:

Pick a translation then set it as your favorite in your Bible reading app or buy a physical copy in your preferred translation. 

2. Where To Start Reading The Bible

Now that you’ve picked a Bible to read, where should you start? Common sense tells us when we pick up a book to start at the beginning. It’s how you read a book. But the Bible is different. 

For starters, the Bible isn’t a single book. It’s a collection of 66 books written over sixteen centuries by over forty human authors. It is quite an amazing collection with very different styles, unique voices, different purposes, and incredible stories. 

Genres Of The Bible

Because of the uniqueness of the Bible it’s best to not start at the beginning. Here’s where I recommend starting: 

  • John 
  • James
  • Paul’s Letters 
  • Choose A Reading Plan 

This will give you a good understanding of what Jesus has done, and how we should live in light of his work. 

If you are looking for a Bible reading plan a great, and free, place to start is YouVersion (Bible App). It’s a free app that has thousands of plans for you to choose from. 

Another resource I HIGHLY recommend is Mark Moore’s books Core 52 and Quest 52. These simple 15 minute daily readings will help you connect with God and understand the Bible better. They are INCREDIBLE. Plus there’s kids/teen versions as well! 

You can buy them here:

I’ve written a full guide on where to start reading the Bible here:Where To Start Reading The Bible (the 4 BEST places to start)

3. Pray Before You Begin

Before you start reading, say a prayer. It doesn’t have to be a long or complicated prayer. Simply ask God to reveal what he has for you in what you are about to read. 

Use this prayer time to calm your mind and heart. We all have so much going on and there are distractions all around us. A quick time of prayer can help us focus on what God has for us. 

This is one of the most important steps you can take. 

4. Follow (or create) A Plan 

You don’t fall into good habits, you have to develop them. If you want to start going to the gym you need a plan to be effective. A plan tells you what to do each day and will maximize your time. 

Similarly, when you read the Bible you need a plan. You need to set time aside regularly, I recommend putting it on your calendar. And you need to know what you are going to read. 

Again, you find reading plans on YouVersion (Bible App). A great feature is that you can turn on notifications so it will remind you to read each day. 

Or you can pick up a devotional or book that helps you read. Again, I HIGHLY recommend Mark Moore’s books Core 52 and Quest 52.

You can buy them here:

5. Be Curious 

Sometimes when we read the Bible it can become a task we are checking off our list. I want to encourage you to fight that urge, be curious. 

When you read the Bible ask questions. Why did they say that? Why did the people respond that way? What does this mean for me? What stood out in what I just read?

Even ask difficult questions. If something the Bible says strikes the wrong note with you ask why. Think about it, research it. But curious about what you read. 

6. Stick To It… But Don’t Get Hung Up If You Miss A Day

Think about progression not perfection. When you start reading the Bible you will miss days. It won’t be perfect, and that’s OKAY. 

If you miss a day, a week, or months… pick it back up. Stick to your commitment. It will get easier over time, and it will become something you just do. But habits take time to develop.

Find a time to read and stick to it. When you forget a day don’t beat yourself up, simply start again tomorrow. 

If you stay consistent you will see your faith and your understanding of God grow. 

7. Pick Up Some Tools 

The Bible is a complex book and there’s SO much to learn. Having a few tools can greatly help you understand and apply God’s Word to your life. 

You don’t need much to start. Here’s what I recommend: 

  • A good study Bible (Like this one: Study Bible)
  • A journal (Like this one: Journal
  • Something to help with Bible comprehension (like: Core 52)
  • Bookmark some good online resources (like Rethink)

If you are looking for a quality resource that’s free I highly recommend Dr Constables’s Expository Notes. You can easily pull up some quality notes on any passage you are reading. This will give you a much greater understanding of the Bible and the context in which it is written. 

Closing Thoughts On How To Read The Bible

One of the most important things you can do is to simply start reading the Bible. A couple verses a day is better than zero verses a day. One minute reading the Bible is better than zero minutes reading the Bible. 

Start small. That’s how habits are formed. A little by a little. 

So often when we try to start a new habit we try to go from zero to a hundred. If you’ve never stepped foot in a gym you probably shouldn’t start by trying to work out for an hour and a half. That would just set you up for failure. Instead you should start small and formulate a habit that can grow. 

When it comes to reading the Bible just strive to spend more time than you did yesterday. It’s okay to start small and build that habit. If you’ve never consistently read the Bible don’t feel like you have to read it cover to cover in the next month. 

Focus on building a habit. Start small. A couple minutes a day is a great place to start. Build the habit. Make it part of your daily routine. And increase the time as it becomes part of what you do. Focus on building a habit, not checking a box. 

If you do that you will see your faith grow and your understanding of God’s Word take on a new light. 

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affliliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links. This is at no cost to you and helps keep Rethink up and running.
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