Most days I sit down to have a few moments in the word before the day begins, some days I plain sleep in late and don’t prioritize it (no perfection or pretense here!). But, when I do make the time, the calming combo of Jesus and Java is the most delightful way to start the day.
Often I think back to the early days, Linc would be watching Sesame Street or Mickey Mouse clubhouse, munching his muffins next to me with sippy cup or paci in tow.
Once D entered our lives, he encouraged me to teach him to leave me for some quiet time when he sees my bible out. And now, when he sees us ?. Why didn’t I think of that? Because men think differently. And I’m grateful for those first 5 years of Lincoln seeing and knowing that my bible time was a priority, and now understanding the importance and having a growing respect for it’s space.
But how and why do I read?
I’ve had people ask me this often and related questions—what to read, where should they begin, what version, how long? I love getting those questions, and I’ll start with the biggest secret: there’s no right answer. The important thing is just to begin building a habit. Anyone let out a sigh of relief?
Do You need a Bible? Not sure what translation you should get?
When I first began reading I was encouraged to get a Life Application Study Bible. My church read from the NASB (New American Standard Bible) then so that’s what I got (you can snag it here). I read that version and from that Bible (gifted and engraved by my first husband) until right after I married D. I was ready for fresh pages (because I write in mine as I go!) so I now have note-takers ESV (English Standard Version) that we used as our wedding guestbook. Our friends and family highlighted verses they love and wrote a sweet note. What a gift.
How do you start reading the Bible regularly? There’s no right answer. The important thing is to just begin building the habit.Julie Bender
I highly recommend getting an easy-to-read translation that is also faithful to the original text (meaning, not more of a paraphrase). I would suggest an ESV Study or note-takers bible, a NLT (New Living Translation) Study or note-takers bible or a NIV (New International Version) Study or note-takers bible. I’ve also heard great things about the She Reads Truth bible!
I really enjoy reading The Message Translation or The Passion Translations (only available for the New Testament) but these should be read secondarily, relying first on a more accurate translation and these read for further understanding of the passage you’re in. (I’ll do a deeper dive into that in another post!)
You can also get what’s called a parallel bible, which would feature multiple translations in one. They’re more expensive but really handy.
Ready to make a decision? I would get one translation, and then use the YouVersion Bible app to look up other translations as you read to get a better grasp on the meaning of the text you’ve read (hint: this is what I normally do). You can always shop my ever-growing Bible resources list on Amazon! Click the image to shop now!
OK, now you have a bible. Let’s crack it open.
If you’re new to reading the Bible, start in the New Testament.
There are a couple books in the New Testament that are especially fit for beginners. The book of John or even the book of Romans are good starting places. Brew yourself a cup of your beloved coffee, get somewhere comfortable, open it up, and just. start. reading. I’ve heard it said, “Don’t read it to finish, read it to change.” Some days I’ll read a few verses, some days a few chapters! The key is, whichever book you start, read it all the way through, in order.
I do not recommend casually opening the Bible, sticking your finger on the page and picking a paragraph to “get a word for your day.” I’m not going to lie, I’ve done that many times too. But the Bible is like other books in that you need to read it in context. I believe there is actual danger in taking its words lightly or misreading it by mish-mashing sections that do not actually relate to one another. Context is key. Just like you wouldn’t open a Nicolas Sparks novel or the Harry Potter trilogy and turn to page 122, paragraph three and expect to understand what’s happening, you should read Scripture as it was written.
[Want to hear about my faith journey? Listen in!]
Begin with a simple prayer to clear your mind.
Before I start reading for the day, I pray a quick prayer, something like “OK God, help me to ignore the distractions around me and hear from You this morning. Show me something about Yourself or about myself and speak to me now.” Side note on distractions: if you wait for a time when you’ll be completely alone to read for hours, interruption-free, it will likely never happen. Maybe your kiddo is in your bed or running amok. Start anyway. Remember, I did this for years before separating it! And again, perfection not required here, ladies!
You may want to journal a prayer if you struggle to focus.
What is God saying to me through this passage?
When I’m reading, I’m looking to see if the passage tells me something about God, something about me or some combination of both. Then I’ll write a note in my journal or work in the Bible study book I might be using at the time or even write a note in my notes app on my phone. Don’t be afraid to write in your bible. I remember being told once that doing so was against some rule. Um, no. You’re reading to change, remember? I love when I come across a note (and I add the date now!) where I can recall how God worked in a situation before. It builds my faith!
If you’re brand new to the Bible I’d recommend getting a study from The Daily Grace Co. on Instagram (@thedailygraceco) or Kelly Minter’s All Things New study!
You can also start with something as simple as a free plan from the YouVersion Bible app…they have countless reading plans by topics or book studies.
The main point is this: just start reading.
Pray along the way, and don’t get so worried about doing it right. Study with a friend, and make it a habit at least a few days a week. You’ll come to love it, I’m sure of it.
Bonus: Want to read with your littles? I try to read a couple times a week with my son from his Jesus Storybook Bible. I usually can’t get through the page without tearing up. It’s so beautifully written, and he connects so well with the way she tells each Bible story relating it back to Jesus.
This is just a starter for you. I’ll write more on bible study methods. Don’t worry about doing it right. Just do it. If you’re looking for something deeper now, I noticed my friend Ashlyn just started creating resources, go check her out!
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