“I have read my bible every single morning for over 25 years,” he shared from across the table. An incredible mentor of mine and a hilarious old soul, he is a handsome example of devotion and dedication to the word of God.
As we sat there sipping our tea, guilt permeated in my stomach like a Taco Bell four-cheese burrito. The truth is throughout my Jesus Following days I have failed over and over again at making the bible a priority in my life. As much as I recognize its unparalleled importance as a part of living a life of faith, I was never able to make it happen for more than a month, let alone 25 years.
One day I realized the problem: I had never fallen in love with the bible.
The truth is there are many books I love to read over and over and over like Harry Potter and Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. [Click here to see a list of some of my favorite Christian books]. So why have I never felt that way about the most influential book in history?
For far too long I saw reading the bible as a chore, something to check off in order to have a good day. That is merely a task to be accomplished. And my friend, as long as you view reading God’s word in that way, you too will struggle to make the time.
I don’t presume to have all the answers for this fill-in-the-blank test they call chasing God, but that’s the beauty of the bible. There isn’t a right way to have a relationship with God. Furthermore, we are constantly changing and growing and so will our time with the word of God. So, whether you’re just starting out, trying to get back on the horse, or looking a for fresh perspective, here are:
10 Ways to Fall in Love With Your Bible
1.) Stop Reading It Like a Textbook
Don’t scan quickly for the key point, sprinting down the page while thinking about the daily to-do list. The only way we can allow the word of God to transform us is through slow and thoughtful intake of His story.
Learn to read the bible like a love letter, lingering on each word.
“We read slowly so that we can savor each word and let its meaning sink in. Rather than rushing on to the next chapter so that we can compete a reading or study assignment, we stay in the place where God is speaking to us, contemplating meaning for our life and for our relationship… like Samuel, we approach the scripture with utter openness and availability to God: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” -Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms p. 50
2.) Research Some Background Information (Yes, Seriously)
I am not taking about reading a 300 page textbook (although they have those too), I am talking about a brief overview and history. Charles R. Swindoll’s resource found here is one of my favorites!
Another great resource is this book: The Books of the Bible. It provides a 1 page history and overview to the book then lays out each book in the format they were originally written in (without all of the verse numbers and chapter headings).
Having context will make your time more meaningful and help you understand why Paul suddenly starts talking about circumcision out of nowhere (thanks for that Paul…)!
3.) Get out Some Bubbles & Try SOAP.
No, I’m not talking about a bubble bath, it’s an awesome way to study the bible. All you do is go through each letter:
S – Scripture – Take time to read that day’s passage allowing time for God to speak to you. Write down parts that stuck out to you.
O – Observation – What caught your attention in this verse? Ask the holy spirit to teach you and reveal Jesus to you through these words. Write down the verse in your own words.
A – Application – Personalize what you have read by asking yourself how it applies to your life. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation, or guidance for a particular area of your life.
P – Prayer – Ask God to help you use this scripture in your everyday existence. Remember prayer is a two-way conversation, write down your prayer and if you hear anything in response.
4.) Schedule a time to meet with God.
Many Christians I know intend to hangout with their bibles but never seem to get around to it. Been there people.
Have you ever scheduled in an appointment with God? Yeah maybe it seems a little crazy, but once it’s in your calendar, you’re much more likely to follow through (this is also true of working)
Soon you’ll look forward to that time! I mean a date with God, what could be more important? (If you pick different hipster coffee shops, it makes it even more exciting and slightly more weird).
5.) Look up Different Translations.
If you’re reading and you get super confused by a phrase or story, use a website like BibleGateway.com that allows you to quickly cycle through different translations and commentaries. NIV, The Message, and The Voice are a few of my favorite translations.
6.) Forgive Yourself When You Get Off Track
God won’t love you more or less if you memorize all gazillion pages or if you never touch the thing so throw the guilt out the window. God is never about blame or condemnation, He is the champion of love and forgiveness. Okay fine, you missed today. Jump right back in. “So how have you been,” He’ll say with a smile.
7.) Stop Making It Super Complicated
You’re in charge of your relationship with God, not anyone else. Stop comparing or wondering if you’re doing it right. You’ve got to figure out what works for you. Any step you take towards God is an awesome step.
8.) Get to Know the Daily Audio Bible and the Bible App
Become friends with the incredible resource that is the Daily Audio Bible. Available online and as a podcast, Brian reads the bible every single day so you can be in God’s word wherever you are (even in traffic or on a walk).
Also, there are many awesome free bible apps if you’re one of those smart phone people. Instead of cruising Facebook when you’re waiting in line, do a little light reading.
9.) Put the Book Down and Go Serve
Yes, you read that right. If you don’t feel like reading your bible, maybe you need to go be the hands and feet of Jesus. Your service to God should fuel your desire to want to know Him more and vice versa. The bible is a call to action. Go do that and when you’re done, come try again.
10.) Find a Community
Find someone who can check in and encourage you as you continue on this journey of reading God’s word.
You’re in luck, starting next Wednesday October 21, we are starting the first online bible study at Recklessly Alive! Every day (except Sundays) I will post the reading, reflection, questions for journaling and prayer from the book of James (We will take Sundays off to rest or allow people to catch up).
I am so excited about this new adventure together. Will you consider joining us? Comment on this post if you are joining me on this journey through James!
Click here to subscribe to the mailing list so you never miss a day!
So there you have it friends, 10 ways I have learned to fall in love with reading the bible. I am still far from perfect and I certainly don’t expect to make it 25 years without missing a day. Still, I’m striving to grow and mature in my relationship with God and that can only happen through getting to know Him in His word.
So dust off your bible case and crack it open. What are you waiting for?
These songs and more can be found in my Spotify Playlist, Coffee With My Savior.