Do you want to but don’t really know how to start reading the Bible? The Bible is a really big book, and it’s filled with a lot of challenging passages, long books, and hard-to-understand truths.
But just as a little baby needs a lot of milk to grow strong and stay healthy, our spiritual lives need the milk of God’s word to grow.
“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)
If a baby doesn’t constantly receive nourishing milk, she doesn’t just stay a tiny, cute little baby — she gets sick; she grows unhealthy; she cannot thrive and grow. In the same way, a healthy Christian is a growing Christian, receiving constant nourishment from the rich milk of God’s word.
So how do we get started? What books and chapters should we read first? How can we learn to navigate this big book? Where do we start reading the Bible?
Rather than letting the length and gravity of the Bible paralyze us, I want to suggest some ways for you to learn how to start reading the Bible for yourself and thereby grow in your salvation in Christ. Depending on how you respond to the questions below, I think you’ll be able to find a good place to begin reading, as well as some tips and tools to better understand the word of God.
How to Start Reading the Bible
To help you find a Bible reading plan that’s right for you, start by asking yourself these 5 questions:
1. Are you unsure about whether or not you really believe in Jesus?
I encourage you to begin reading your Bible in the book of John*. The book of John was written “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
As you read, mark in your Bible. So many people don’t want to “mess up” their Bibles by writing in them, but the Bible is not an untouchable relic — it is a living word! Every single word and tense, subject and verb, article and pronoun is purposeful and inspired, breathed-out by God Himself. So grab a highlighter, pencil, or colored pens, and read John with writing utensil in hand!
As you read through John, I would suggest reading one chapter daily and marking significant key words repeated throughout the book, such as:
- judge (and judgment)
- truth (true)
Underline these words in your Bible, or highlight them different colors, or circle them with a pencil — any method will work! — but slow down long enough to notice and believe the living words of God.
*John wrote several books in the Bible, some of which have numbers before them like 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. I would begin with the gospel of “John” before going on to John’s other books. :)
2. Do you know very little about the Bible or Christianity?
A great way to get started reading the Bible is through a skeletal overview of God’s word. You’ll be able to develop a framework of initial Biblical understanding and find your bearings a bit by reading some key chapters in the Bible.
Here is a link to a three-week “Skeletal Overview of the Bible” reading plan on my blog. Even if you are fairly familiar with the Bible, getting a bird’s eye, “big picture” view of God’s story that runs throughout all 66 books is so important.
3. Are you walking through trials and in need of comfort?
Through challenging seasons, God has comforted my heart abundantly through the Psalms, in Isaiah 40-66 and also in the book of 2 Corinthians. As you read in these books, underline or highlight verses that encourage you and open your eyes to the God of all comfort. Make notes in a notebook or in the margin of your Bible to remember what you learn about GOD, and through seeing Him more clearly, your heart will be lifted up. He will exchange your heap of ashes for a garland of praise and gladness. Do not lose heart, beloved soul.
4. Do you question whether or not you are really saved?
Read the book of 1 John. It was written to those who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that they may know that they have eternal life.
Mark in your Bible every time you read these words in 1 John:
5. Do you want to read all of the Bible so that you can learn to treasure all of God’s words? Do you want to be a “workman not ashamed, accurately dividing the word of truth?”
There are hundreds of Bible reading plans out there, so hunt around to find what will work for you! If it feels overwhelming to read your Bible for long lengths of time, begin with one chapter a day, and STAY FAITHFUL! The enemy will do everything he can to keep you out of this book, but God is faithful; He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
As you read Scripture, always pray that God Himself would teach you through His Spirit as you open your Bible. You can begin your reading with a prayer such as Psalm 119:18.
The word of God is not an idle word — it is your life! Let this truth motivate you to PRESS ON and cultivate a lifelong love for the precious words of God. Now you know how to get started reading the Bible!
Amanda Criss is a wife, stay-at-home mom, and blogger at Bless Your Heart and Home. She writes to encourage the hearts of women through the good news of Jesus Christ. She and her husband, Jody, have two children and live in their home state of Mississippi