If you’ve been a Christian your entire life, or at least for a while, and you’re looking to dig deeper into God’s Word, I would really recommend starting in Genesis and reading through the Bible from cover to cover, OR starting with a Chronological Bible and reading from Genesis to the end. I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover, and I LOVED it. I did it first in 2016, and I decided I would do it every other year, because it was so impactful. I’ve never read the Chronological Bible, although I plan to one day. But I’ve heard wonderful things about it.
Those are two great ways to immerse yourself in God’s Word. It sounds boring. And I’m not saying that parts of it won’t be! But God’s Word, coupled with prayer and meditation, is life changing. One reason I suggest just reading straight through is that sometimes devotional books or “daily devos” can distract. Again, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with these things! I have a few supplemental materials that I use in my quiet time. But just letting God speak to you through His Word, and letting the Holy Spirit teach you… well, nothing compares. Here are some Bible verses that helped me come to this conclusion:
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26 ESV
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10 – 11 ESV
Now, if you’re a new Christian, or you’ve never really done any regular Bible Study at all, there might be some other methods you want to start with. That being said: the above method is still perfect!!!!! There will never be anything better than just diving right into God’s Word! But admittedly, that can be a little intimidating if you aren’t familiar with the Bible. And starting with the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible – also known as the Law) might be discouraging.
You might consider starting with Psalms, Proverbs, Matthew, John, or Romans. Here’s some info about each that might help you decide where you might want to start:
Psalms: these are beautiful, often short, songs and poems. They are often expressing God’s goodness and grace and mercy and beauty. Others are crying out to God for help in times of trouble. I LOVE the Psalms because they so often capture my thoughts that I cannot put into words on my own. I’ve heard it said that getting through the Christian life without the Psalms would be impossible. And I agree!
Proverbs: my husband and I read a Proverb a night as part of family devotions with our kids. This book is full of wisdom ranging from finances to friendship to marriage to purity. It’s a very common sense book, if that’s your thing.
Matthew/John: Matthew is the first of the four gospels, and John is the fourth. I like the idea of starting in Matthew because you are starting with a very good look into the life and ministry of Jesus. “Gospel” means good news. So this is basically getting right to the heart of the Bible’s message – and Jesus’ message! You could start in Matthew, and read on through the New Testament. Lots of folks in ministry recommend starting with John, though. It’s a shorter book, but the theology is very good and clear. Either way, the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are a great place to get started. The red lettering in your Bible indicates words of Jesus.
Romans: ah, this book. This a wonderful book of theology! There are challenging topics and thought-provoking chapters! But the meat of the text is so wonderful. If you are super-new to Christianity, this might be more than you are looking for. But if you want the next level of understanding or study theologically, this is a great place for you.
For new believers, I would also highly recommend What Every Christian Ought to Know by Adrian Rogers. It’s a great book of theology that will help you get a good basis for the Christian faith. Order it on Amazon right now!
Whether you are a new or seasoned Christian woman, I would check out http://proverbs31.org/ – this is Proverbs 31 Ministries (Read Proverbs 31 while you’re at it – a great passage on biblical womanhood). They have devotionals, book suggestions, and all kinds of other resources.
If you are looking for a devotional book, I would start with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and Lysa TerKeurst. Find something they’ve written that piques your interest!
Some general Bible reading tips:
- Pick a time, each day, where you meet with God for Bible reading and prayer. Doing this in the same time, in the same place, every day helps establish a routine. Try to have all of your materials there already – so you don’t spend time running around finding things! I have a basket on the table next to my comfy chair with my Bible, my prayer cards, my pen, and all my study material.
- As you get started, pick a very simple routine! Don’t try to do everything a Bible scholar would do right away. Just try reading a few chapters and praying for a little while.
- Give yourself grace. Any habit can be tough to start. And Bible reading is no exception. If you miss a day or two, or a week, just pick back up. Don’t let yourself feel guilty.
- Anytime you listen to a sermon or you’re reading a book, look up the verses referenced or stated. This is a great way to really get you in the Bible. You become more familiar with it as you flip from passage to passage. And, most importantly, you can verify that that is what your Bible really says! It is always good to check whatever you hear and whatever you read with your Bible yourself.
- Allow yourself to interact with your Bible… as in, write it in. My husband cringes every time I do this – which is a lot! My Bible is full of notes and underlines and thoughts. My son’s name is written all over my Bible with verses that I pray for him. If I feel that God is teaching me something about a specific passage, I write it down. The Bible is a very interactive book. We read it, yes, but it is a communication tool from God. And we pray it back to him. Interacting with your Bible is a great way to make your study time more personal.
The final thing I would say: before you begin each session of Bible reading, take a few minutes to quiet your heart, clear your head of distractions, and pray that God would help you. Here are a few things I like to ask of God before I begin my quiet time:
- That He would help me focus
- That He would keep all distractions far from me
- That He would speak to me through His Word
- That He would convict my heart of any unconfessed sin so that I can be right with him
- That He would draw me close to Him
- That He would help me desire Him and His Word
God truly desires that we desire Him! And if we ask Him to help us with that, He surely will.