If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve probably noticed that I keep coming back to the advice given in my very first post, “How do I Find God?” Almost every post has ended by saying that we should continue to read the Bible and pray, to help us make sense of life’s problems, and to find the answers to our questions about God and draw nearer to him.
However, just saying “go and read the Bible” is easier said than done. I am very aware that in today’s society, particularly here in the UK, many people do not even know basic Bible stories any more, let alone where to find a specific Bible passage. Bible stories are not taught in schools in the way they were 20 years ago, and now we have a generation of children growing up whose parents do not know Bible stories and therefore cannot pass this knowledge on.
I do think this is a great shame. Of course I’m biased because I’m a Christian, but even so, I live in a nominally Christian country, and it seems a shame that people no longer even know the basics of a Christian culture for general interest purposes.
Anyway, back to the point. If you are someone who is interested in God and Jesus and wants to know more about what Jesus did, and what God’s plan is – but you’ve never opened a Bible, where should you start?
First you need to buy a Bible. This in itself is a big question – what version should you get? If you are reading the Bible for the first time I would recommend a modern translation as this will allow you to get the gist of what’s going on, without getting bogged down in archaic language. Many people like the New International Version (NIV), which is probably the most popular modern translation. Other translations you may like to look at are the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New Living Translation.
To have a look at different Bible translations and compare the language used the website BibleGateway.com is extremely helpful. This website has over 100 different Bible versions on it – so plenty to choose from!
Once you’ve got your Bible you need to know where to start reading. You can of course just start reading from page one and keep going to the end, but as the Bible is actually made up of 66 individual books its probably best to pick and choose to start with the books that will be most helpful for you.
Here are some suggestions:
- You want to learn about Jesus’ life: read the Gospel of Mark
- You want to learn about what Jesus said and thought: read the Gospel of John
- You want to learn about how Christianity spread: read the Acts of the Apostles
- You want to know how everything started: read Genesis
- You want to learn about the origins of the Jews: start with reading the first half of Exodus, then move on to read Joshua
- You want to read a love story: read Ruth and Song of Solomon
- You want to read about some of the prophets: read the first half of Daniel, and read Jonah
- You want to read about the meaning of life: read Ecclesiastes
These are just a few ideas to help you get started. Now the next question is – how often should I read the Bible? The answer is “when you know you are going to be able to stick to it consistently”. If this means every morning when you wake up for ten minutes, that’s fine. If this means for one hour once a week on an evening you have free, that’s fine. If this means setting a goal of five chapters a week and fitting it in when you’ve got time, that’s fine. The key is consistency and working out what works for you.
You will of course find many Bible reading planners on the internet which lead you through reading the Bible on a daily basis, and if this is something that appeals to you, it can be a very good way to consistently keep that reading going. See BibleQuizzes.org.uk to get some free Bible reading bookmarks in the free offers section!
There is no one way to read the Bible, but let’s make sure that every time we open the book we pray for God to give us understanding and wisdom, and for Him to bless our search for the truth.