Blog Post by Gabbi Hartzell
The B-I-B-L-E. Yes, that’s the book I’m “supposed” to read. (I hope you’re singing that in your head like I am right now).
For some reason, reading Scripture can often feel intimidating and overwhelming, so allow me to share what I have learned throughout my own faith journey in regards to reading Scripture.
WHERE SHOULD I START?
After my own on-again/off-again experience with Scripture reading, I have concluded with one major thing — start with Jesus. We can be tempted to start at the beginning of the Bible, after all, that does make logical sense. But if you haven’t read the Bible much and are wanting to jump into it now, you may fall off the wagon at Leviticus if you start at the beginning. So do yourself a favor and start with our Savior.
HOW LONG OR HOW MUCH SHOULD I READ IN ONE SITTING?
The real answer is…however long you can! For real though. How long you sit with the Holy Spirit and read Scripture is usually dictated by our schedules. And as women, we’re busy!
The length of time isn’t important. It’s the quality and consistency with which you do it!
Now, I will say…when it comes to the New Testament letters (not the Gospels or Revelation but basically everything else in the NT), it’s an incredible practice to read through a letter out loud and in its entirety at least once. Why? Because this is the way they were written. Take a letter, 1 Corinthians or Romans or another, and sit down and read that entire letter out loud. After that, go back through and look at smaller chunks of it.
WHEN DURING THE DAY SHOULD I READ?
First and foremost, each of our calendars looks different. Some work different shifts during the day and night. Others have kids hanging off of them at all times. Some are juggling multiple jobs or hats or roles.
So, with that being said, read when you can!
Just make sure you’re reading it every day. Consistency is key. But I will say, what I have learned in my own walk with Jesus, is that my day goes better when I spend time with Him first. It’s hard to do, and it’s not always my “first” thing to do in the morning. Sometimes it’s my third or fourth (because we got kids to feed, dress, and get out the door).
But every time I begin my work without spending time with Jesus first, I notice that I am more easily overwhelmed with my tasks, am more easily frustrated with myself and others. That’s why I have found it to be important to not only “start with Jesus” with where I read in the Bible, but to actually “start with Jesus” in my daily life.
WHY IS READING THE BIBLE IMPORTANT?
We read Scripture for one reason — to know God. Not out of obligation and not out of desperation (though we will inevitably come to Him for those reasons). But reading the Bible is important because it’s the story of how our God created us and came to rescue us. It provides a roadmap for how we live our day-to-day lives. It gives encouragement and wisdom.
But the most important thing is that it allows us to know our God Whom we serve. And if we are going to follow Jesus, represent Him on this earth, and speak on His behalf, we better know Who He is and what He says.
HOW CAN WE EVEN UNDERSTAND SCRIPTURE?
Now this…this is the reason so many of us get tripped up and frustrated with reading the Bible. This is also where many of us get things wrong and misrepresent the Jesus we claim to follow. We speak words we read yet don’t understand. I have been there so many times and still am there.
So, I want to give you 4 tools that I love to use and always come back to when wanting to better understand Scripture.
1. The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the Helper.Before you begin your daily reading, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you’re getting ready to read and give you insight. As you begin to rely on the Holy Spirit more, the Helper will do what the Helper does — help.
You don’t have to be a pastor or theologian to use a commentary. Any regular person can find them anywhere! Including free versions online! I also recommend finding commentaries written by diverse people — not just commentaries from Americans, but from other countries.
Podcasts are free resources with rich content! My absolute favorite podcast that helps shed light on understanding Scripture is The Bible Project podcast. It has been pivotal in my growth as a Jesus follower, and I guarantee it will be in yours, as well!
Now I know what you’re thinking — you don’t have time to take a class and you don’t want to go to seminary. I understand! This option is not for everyone! But if you want to get a lot more in-depth with your study and understanding, you can do this WITHOUT GOING TO SEMINARY!
There are some amazing online classes you can take and some are FREE! Dallas Theological Seminary offers a few of their seminary classes for free and completely online, N.T. Wright Online offers classes on several different topics and letters of Scripture (you do have to pay for these classes), and another option is The Bible Project! They have some courses online and some are actually free!
I hope these words help you and inspire you to turn to the Bible more often, and with excitement and confidence. There is so much wisdom, freedom, and awe-inspiring truths about God waiting within those pages to be revealed to you. So regardless of which tools you utilize and when you set aside the time each day to read, all I ask is that you take a page from Nike’s book and “just do it”.