How to Actually Like Reading the Bible

How to Actually Like Reading the Bible

“Americans revere the Bible – but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.” – Researcher George Gallup

Until about five years ago, I was one of those Americans who revered the Bible but didn’t read it much. Of course I knew it was important, that it was God’s Word, and (fill in the blank with every other thing I was supposed to know after many years of being a Christian). But to actually want to read the Bible regularly? I thought that was a desire only a pastor could possibly have.

Frankly, I thought the Bible was about as interesting as watching paint dry. Seeing as how studies regularly show most Christians are biblically illiterate, I’m probably not the only one who has struggled with this.

Fast forward to this weekend. On Saturday night I was about to turn off the light for bed when I realized I hadn’t read the Bible yet that day. I let out a pleasantly surprised, “oh!” and reached for my Bible with genuine anticipation for the reading minutes ahead.

I love reading the Bible today. I would never have imagined myself saying that just a few years ago. If you struggle to actually like reading the Bible, here are six tips to help you out.

 

1.    Change your underlying beliefs about the importance of reading the Bible.

It’s well known in psychology that your underlying belief about something drives your attitude toward it, and that attitude drives behavior. If you merely try to change your Bible reading behavior without changing your attitude toward the Bible, you’re setting yourself up for failure; furthermore, you can’t change your attitude toward the Bible without changing your underlying beliefs about it.

So that begs the question: what exactly do you need to believe in order to have a positive attitude toward the Bible that results in regular reading behavior? I suppose there are a variety of possible answers depending on the individual, but I believe this one is the common thread:

You have to believe that reading the Bible actually matters.

Ask yourself if you whole-heartedly believe that. If not, why not? Do you have unanswered questions about the Bible’s reliability? Get answers. Do you not believe regular Bible reading would actually change your spiritual life? Read this research. Do you have trouble understanding what the Bible is saying when you read it (we all do at times!)? Buy a good study Bible.

If you don’t believe reading the Bible matters, you’ll be very unlikely to suddenly start liking it.

 

2.    Make sure you understand the overarching structure and story of the Bible.

I got through high school English without ever reading an entire book. I hated literature and survived on “Cliffs Notes” (book summaries you can buy). This approach to reading carried over into my young adult life. There was no way I was going to actually read a book the size of the Bible, but one day I decided to pick up “The Bible for Dummies.” I hate to say it, but reading “The Bible for Dummies” was a turning point for me. (That’s crazy to think of now – I’ve turned into a voracious reader!)

In 18 years of church, I had never really learned what the overarching story of the Bible was; I had simply picked up bits and pieces with no meaningful understanding of how they fit together. After reading “The Bible for Dummies,” I no longer saw the Bible as one huge, daunting book I had no interest in reading. I finally felt like I had a map and could enjoy visiting the different parts. If you’re fuzzy on what happens between “let there be light” and the resurrection, I highly recommend starting with a summary book. (For $.99, you can get the highly rated ebook “Know Your Bible” to help.)

 

3.    Target your interests.

If you’re not yet at the point of enjoying reading the Bible, it may not be the best thing to dive into a reading plan that goes from Genesis to Revelation. Consider what you need spiritually at this time in your life or would like to understand better.

  • Are you interested in or challenged by questions related to origins? Study Genesis.
  • Do you wonder “what’s up” with all of those Old Testament laws? Study Leviticus (with a really good study guide…)
  • Are you interested in the similarities and differences between the gospels? Read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
  • Do you need encouragement for finding joy? Read Philippians.

You get the picture. Don’t force yourself to read the Bible in its entirety when you’re just getting going. Once you learn to enjoy parts, you’ll learn to enjoy the whole.

 

4.    Treat every opportunity to read the Bible as a learning adventure.

I truly believe I will learn something new every time I read the Bible. That makes a huge difference in my desire to read each day. Using a good study Bible gives you insights on history, geography, culture, language, and theology that you would never gain on your own.

I use the ESV study Bible (which I read on my iPad, using the OliveTree app). I usually read a full chapter and then go back to read the study notes so my reading flow isn’t interrupted.

 

5.    Treat every opportunity to read the Bible as a heart adventure.

True to the statistics I linked to in this blog post, I’ve personally experienced that nothing in my spiritual life has drawn me closer to God than reading the Bible. I think many Christians assume that’s the privileged role of prayer, but reading and studying God’s Word is just as much a “heart thing.” When you start to see it as such, your anticipation for reading the Bible will greatly grow.

 

6.    Don’t feel bad if you don’t enjoy reading certain parts.

I just can’t get into the book of Psalms. But that’s OK. It’s absolutely fine (and normal) to enjoy reading some parts of the Bible more than others!

 

What are your Bible reading barriers? 

13 Comments

  1. Rosann on January 7, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Thanks for this post, Natasha. I struggle with putting all the pieces of the puzzle together too and really struggle with a few of the books in the Old Testament. But I LOVE reading the New Testament. What’s interesting to me is that I never realized how much I’ve learned even just from reading here and there each morning until I watched The Bible miniseries on TV a while back. As it went through portraying the different stories I was able to have some “YES!” moments of knowing what comes next or who the character was they were about show and even how the story was actually told in the Bible. Call it confirmation that the Lord does open my heart and mind to understanding His word, even if all I have is 10 minutes to dig in on a given day. 🙂



    • Natalie on February 26, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      Have you tried a chronological reading plan for the Old Testament? I found that helped me a lot.



  2. Mike Gantt on January 10, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    You’re not attracted to the Psalms? I’m amazed.

    Nonetheless, I’m very glad to here of your migration to enjoyment of the Bible. There is no book like it.

    Most importantly, it tells us of Christ – who is, of course, even greater than the Bible. Even so, He will always be true to what he’s said through the Bible.



  3. Chris Bell on January 26, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    The Big God Story is a children’s book, but I found it very valuable in tying the entire Bible together. It puts things in order and helps me understand the whole.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Story-Michelle-Anthony/dp/1434764540/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390794072&sr=8-1&keywords=the+big+god+story



  4. Natalie on February 26, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    I have come to truly love reading the Bible, too. I’ve enjoyed the book How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens. It gives an overview of each book of the Bible and points everything to Jesus.



  5. Luis Serrano on August 20, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    Great article, thank you! I also encourage that those who learn by hearing listen to an audio bible they can enjoy. For the majority of others (65% of people being visual learners) I recommend illustrated Bible books and Bible comics, especially for boys.
    There are increasingly more Bible comics and graphic novels that engage our visual culture. A few publishers putting out good work; Zondervan’s ‘Messiah Origin’ & ‘Book of Revelation’, Kingstone Comics is putting out several bible comics, and Rooted Chronicles ‘ Samson the Nazirite.

    All the best,

    Luis



  6. Karen on March 20, 2015 at 2:18 PM

    Thank you for your insight! Something that truly changed my attitude was thinking of God’s Word as he stated it – The bread of life, the water that will always quench (and never leave us thirsty). When I pray, I ask God to speak and lead, but He wants us to hear what He has already said, too. If my checking Facebook or e-mail, or even cooking and cleaning are more important than my true bread and water, my soul will go hungry and thirsty and I will be grumpy



  7. John on April 16, 2015 at 12:53 PM

    Thanks for this article. I know I need to read the Bible daily but for some reason it seems like such a chore, I find reading Christian books much more helpful and just plain easier to understand.



  8. Zach L. on January 18, 2016 at 5:03 PM

    I feel like I have to go with Jesus, although he grants us free will and wants to give us true life.

    But many times I feel like the words in the bible are too generic and don’t speak to me. I get the messages and try to follow as best as I can in christ, but I can’t find the enjoyment in the word like God wants us to. I feel like I’m just reading words and they just don’t affect me inside. Maybe I don’t have the insight or heart.

    I’m baptized and I believe and fight to maintain it with some slip ups along the way and I pray every night if that is what you’re gonna ask. In fact, I’ve been struggling with masturbation and feel like the bible or many verses from it is not doing anything for me to put me at ease.

    True and understanding Christians, PLEEASE HELP ME.



    • Precious Benjamin on January 27, 2016 at 10:25 AM

      Hi Zach…since you feel you have to go with JESUS. I honestly think you should open your mind,your heart to JESUS by relaxing that you truly need Him to dwell in you to keep His Spirit in you to push you to want to know and accept GOD’S instruction/precept.. The reason why you don’t enjoy GOD’S word is because you still feel and think is generic/mystic. wipe that thought out of you and relax then kneel before thy creator cry out to Him “pray” tell Him how much you need to know Him and understand Him that you no longer think HIS word is generic/mystic that you truly believe every word that comes out of HIM and His word is True.. GOD’S words truly need to affect you inside and out so open your eyes and your heart to receive His insight start with Proverbs 1-end…. verse 7a says the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge/wisdom…so certainly if you Fear GOD wisdom comes which separates you from wrong and to always see Right.. Zach you just have to believe your baptism into Christ that make you a new creation that ensures the right mindset different from the thinking of the world…shun those wrong thought that want you Not to believe in the Easement in GOD through His word…restrain your flesh from masturbation…Galatians 5 and 1 Thessalonians 4, Colossians 3:1-17, Philippians 3….GOD bless Zach



  9. Christopher on January 12, 2017 at 1:32 PM

    Thanks! This is great. Sometimes people don’t read it that much either because they don’t read well. They need encouraged too.
    http://www.thechristophermorris.com/dont-read-excuse-doesnt-die/



  10. Teresa Spurlock on June 11, 2017 at 5:14 PM

    I have read the bible for years and i have enjoyed it. However there are times when i feel that reading the bible is boring. Whenever i feel this way i stop and think how jesus paid the ultimate price for our sins. Since there are so many hurting people in our sin-infested world i find it very important and comforting to read God’s Word. This eases my mind.



  11. Alan Finch on March 5, 2018 at 12:30 PM

    Next month will mark my 42nd year as a Christian. In the early part of 1988, the Pastor of a Church that I was committed to (non-denominational) asked me to bring forth a sermon one Sunday morning.

    Below is the message that I brought forth. At the time, I had been a Christian less than 12 years. It is the only message that I every brought forth that I ever desired to keep and save.

    What I share in this message still holds true for me today, to the point that I have written 12 articles on the subject (which consists of 19 pages.

    I would like very much to share this with your readers.

    The Lord’s Treasure Chest
    (Early part of1988)
    I am going to be speaking today about a principle that is very dear to my heart and without question, has been a source of unmeasurable dimensions in my Christian life over the years.

    It is a principle that I have practiced through thick and thin throughout my almost 12 years as a Christian. I therefore will be speaking with great confidence in regards to this principle.

    Much of this message is drawn upon my personal experience.

    My first goal in this message is to stir our hearts to action. Notice that I used the word Action. In fact, the theme of the entire Bible is that of action.

    How successful we are in life is determined by how far we reach out.

    Have you ever really given thought as to why the Holy Spirit is given to us?

    Without question, a couple of main functions of the Holy Spirit is to stir to action and to give vision.

    Stir to action: John 6:44 – No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.

    To give vision: What is vision? Simply put, vision, the kind that brings abundant life to a child of God, is a constant revealing of God to us.

    Proverbs 29:18 – Where there is no vision, the people perish. (become unbridled)

    I want to emphasize that God’s Word is His gift to us, which the Holy Spirit uses as His most powerful tool to give us vision.

    Psalms 119:105 – Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

    The next goal is to take steps (steps of action) that will cause God’s Word to become a lasting joy in our hearts. (Renewing and transforming our minds)

    John 17:13&14 – That they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves, I have given them thy Word. (For God’s Word to become a lasting joy in our lives, we must first hide His Word in our hearts.)

    Psalms 119:11 – Thy Word have I hid in my heart.

    When we hide God’s Word in our hearts, it then becomes a treasure to us.

    Matthew 6:21 – For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

    If I told each one of you that there is a buried treasure of one million dollars in your backyard, I doubt very seriously if any of you would find it difficult to get motivated to the point that would produce the kind of action that would cause you to go and dig for that buried treasure.

    I tell you of a truth, that there is a far greater treasure that is at the fingertips of each and everyone of us.

    In fact, this treasure that is at the fingertips of each one of us, is of such great value that Christ shed His Blood in order that we might partake of it’s riches.

    Revelation 19:13 – And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called the Word of God.

    The more that God’s Word becomes a treasure in our hearts, the more that we come to truly love His Word.

    Psalms 119:97 – O how I love thy Word! It is my meditation all the day.

    We did not develop a love for our Lord Jesus Christ until we asked Him to come and dwell in our hearts. For us to develop a love for God’s Word, it must continually dwell in our hearts.

    Mark 4:19 – And the cares of this world, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful.

    The Word of God is so vital to our life as a Christian, that we are told in 1st Peter 2:2 that when a person becomes a newborn babe in Christ, that he or she is to desire the sincere milk of the Word. This is how important that God’s Word is to our spiritual development. “I truly believe that the single greatest motivating factor in a Christian’s life is when God’s Word becomes alive in their heart.”

    Colossians 3:16 – Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.

    Luke 24:32 – And they said one to another, did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?

    The prophet Jeremiah experienced the burning heart to such a degree, that He states in the 20th chapter of Jeremiah, “But His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones.”

    Jesus gives the reason for His words producing a burning affect upon the heart when He states in the 6th chapter of John. “The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are Life.”

    I have noticed that a trademark at the Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in the city of Downey, is the Word of God being alive in the hearts of those who go to share the Gospel.

    Merlin Carothers, a man of God who has a powerful prison ministry, has stated
    “that when God’s Word is alive in our hearts, it helps to break the intimidation factor.”

    Christian evangelism, in whatever form, when done with a Godly motive, is a by-product of God’s Word being alive in one’s heart.

    Again, I repeat Psalms 119:11 – Thy Word have I hid in my heart. (In the movie “The Elephant Man”, he loved the 23rd Psalms.)

    In the days which lay just ahead of us, and which we are now entering into, it is going go to be more important than ever that we have hid and are hiding God’s Word in our hearts.

    Nobody can take away the Word that is hidden away in our hearts.

    In order for the Holy Spirit to extract and reveal to us the many and marvelous Spiritual Treasures in God’s Living Word, we must go beyond just reading His Word, we must go a step further.

    And that step further is the step that enables the Holy Spirit to cause God’s Word to become alive to us in a very special way, by opening our Spiritual eyes in a much greater dimension, to see the many marvelous Spiritual Treasures in His Word that were once hidden to our eyes and to our understanding, but now through the unveiling of them, brings a Greater Abundance of Life to us. They are just resting there, waiting to become ALIVE in our hearts.

    When there is a buried treasure, one has to dig in order to partake of it’s riches. The same applies to God’s Word.

    My definition of digging into God’s Word is to MEDITATE on His Word.

    Mediation is the shovel that digs into God’s Word in such a way that we strike it rich in our Spirit.

    So, the KEY to God’s Word that will enrich our lives in a number of ways, is to meditate upon His Word.

    Psalms 119:97 – O how I love thy Word! It is my meditation all the day.

    Psalms 1:2&3 – But his delight is in the Word of God: and in his Word doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season: his leaf also shall not whither: and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

    In my life, I have discovered that Scripture memorization has been and is a very exciting, powerful and rewarding way for me to meditate upon God’s Word.

    Let me add by saying that the idea is not to accumulate a lot of verses for the sake of numbers, but to enrich our lives.

    When I meditate upon a verse through memorization or through reading His Word, it is God speaking his direct Word to me, and I in return am speaking directly back to God through His Word, which brings about a great rejoicing in my spirit, because the natural result of meditating upon God’s Word stimulates a very deep form of praise in our spirit.

    Personally, I hear God’s voice more clearly through His Word, that by any other means.

    Only one thing can steal the Word of God out of our hearts or keep it from entering in. Mark 4:19 – And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becometh unfruitful.