In my experience, most Christians I talk to wish that they read the Bible more. In the words of Scripture we find comfort in the character of God and hope in his plans for his people. The beloved collect by Thomas Cranmer asks that God would make us attentive to the words of Scripture, that we may “hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.” In this season you can start a new habit of engaging with Bible and find the blessing that comes from feasting on God’s word.
Here are ten ideas for starting a new practice of engagement with the Bible:
Make a plan. How, when, and where will you read the Bible? It could be that you are going to read your trusty print copy in a cozy chair after you make coffee. Or you are going to listen to the Daily Office readings in a podcast while you drive to work. Or you are going to read from a Bible app on your phone while you wait for your kids to be released from summer camp.
Get a new Bible. Reading a translation that is new to you or laid out in a different way will allow you to see things with fresh eyes. Try a Chronological Bible or a Reader’s Bible, without verses and chapters, or one that pairs different biblical genres in daily readings. With a few exceptions, the best Bible is the one that you will love reading regularly.
Read the Bible aloud to a loved one. Read Scripture to your family before a meal or a spouse at bed time or a friend who you regularly meet for prayer. Solitary Scripture reading is a pretty unusual habit in the history of the Church. Everything we read in the Bible was initially intended to be read aloud in community. Reading the Bible together creates new pathways for a shared spiritual life.
Have the Bible read to you. Find an audio Bible narrator that you like and listen to the Bible. This could be in a free app like Bible Gateway, the Dwell App, which offers more features, an audio Bible borrowed from the library, or a podcast like the ESV: Daily Office Lectionary or the 1 Year Daily Audio Bible. And then let them read to you. You may want to follow along on the page or just listen.
Watch a film version that is a word for word narrative of a Gospel. During Holy Week my son and I watched a film version of the Gospel of Mark. We talked about ways that the movie Jesus seemed similar to the way he imagined him and ways that he was different. And it piqued our curiosity to look at Scripture and read the story of Jesus again.
Listen to Scripture in song. My kids love the Scripture memory songs from Seeds Family Worship and the Bible verses actually stick in my head too. There are other Scripture song projects for adults like this one by Matt Papa. And beautiful Psalm projects like this one by Poor Bishop Hooper. Songs are a perfect way to meditate on Scripture.
Get a study guide or a Bible reference book to bring more depth to your reading. I frequently write down questions about what I am I reading in the Bible. Maybe it’s an unusual phrase or a reference to a place or custom that I don’t know about. Buying a small study guide like the individual book studies of the Old Testament and New Testament for Everyone or a Bible Dictionary can help you study Scripture with greater understanding.
Read a whole book at a time. Sometimes we read the Bible in such small sections that we miss the big picture. It might be difficult to read a book like Job in one sitting but if you have 20 minutes you could read the book of Ephesians. Take a look at this chart to see how long it might take to read each book. The Bible Project offers a great video overview of each book the Bible that will help you recognize the themes and structure of each book as you read.
Memorize it. When I was a kid in Sunday school I memorized Bible verses for prizes and bragging rights. But as an adult I find memorizing scripture to be a powerful way of meditating on God’s words throughout the day. You can simply write a verse down on a notecard and review it when you have a few spare moments — stoplights work for me. Or try a fancy Bible memory app. I’ve been using the Verses app lately, which is mostly good and only occasionally frustrating.
Follow the Daily Office Lectionary. The Daily Office is the Anglican daily fixed hour cycle of prayer and Bible reading that is available in print, app, and podcast. You can also join Kolby on Facebook at 8 am on Tuesday mornings for Morning Prayer. With the Daily office you never have plan for what to read or pray, you are never pray alone, and it is tested by generations of followers of Jesus.