“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
The Importance of the Bible
Have you ever sat down at your desk, opened up your Bible, and really thought about how amazing it is that we have the words from an all-knowing God written in a language that we understand? One of the greatest miracles God has ever performed was when He took His infinite vocabulary and pieced together words that could be comprehended by our very limited human minds.
I believe the daily reading, studying, and memorization of the Bible is of utmost importance in the life of a true Christian. By reading the Bible, we know that God is good, just, merciful, and loving. It tells us of God’s amazing grace and of His plan for our salvation. The Bible is our source of peace in a world that is passing away.
The Word of God is also “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), breathing life into the souls of those who are faithful to read and study it. It’s no wonder that the longest chapter of the Bible (Psalm 119) is about having a deep desire for God’s Word. The psalmist spends 176 verses discussing all the ways that the Bible can be useful to believers if they simply spend time reading and studying it.
However, we often tend to forget how powerful the Bible is and how desperately we need it to sustain us during our everyday life. The Bible is the only book of its kind, yet we treat it as though it’s just another piece of paper with words on it. But why do we treat it that way?
Unfortunately, as much as people like to blame lack of time or lack of understanding for their neglect of reading the Bible, I believe it has more to do with misplaced priorities than anything else. We have started to prioritize sleeping in, making sure the house is clean, catching up on our favorite TV show, and having the perfect makeup routine over spending time reading the Bible. None of these things in and of themselves are sinfully bad but NONE of them should take priority over our personal relationship with Jesus. And until we believe that to be true, reading the Bible will not be at the top of our “to-do” list each day.
When I first started studying the Bible, I spent most of my study time feeling tired (because I was waking up earlier than I was used to) and confused (because I had no idea what was going on in what I was reading). But I remained faithful and kept reading, asking God to give me the clarity to understand and energy to stay awake. And through my remaining faithful, God revealed His faithfulness to me by giving me the clarity and energy I had asked for.
If you are stuck in a spot where you really want to begin studying the Bible but are having a hard time getting started, I want to offer a few tips that I have learned in my years of studying:
- GET A VERSION OF THE BIBLE THAT YOU CAN READ EASILY (BUT MAKE SURE IT IS NOT A PARAPHRASE VERSION)
In order to start studying the Bible, you need … well… a Bible. More than likely, someone in your family or in your church has gifted you with one at some point in your life. But if you are a 28-year-old woman and the only Bible you have is a KJV Teen Study Bible that has been collecting dust since you were in middle school, it may be time to go Bible shopping.
A few important things to consider when shopping for a Bible are: (1) what type of Bible you want/need (devotional Bible, reference Bible, study Bible, hardcover, softcover, etc.) (2) the readability of the translation that you are wanting to purchase (how well you can understand it), and (3) the accuracy of the translation when compared to the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic manuscripts. (See chart below):
When picking out a Bible, I would suggest that you stay more toward the left side of the “Bible Translation Continuum”. However, it is important to consider that the readability of the translation may be compromised in order to make the translation more literal to the original manuscripts.
My personal go-to is the Christian Standard Bible (CSB; formerly Holman Christian Standard Bible – HCSB) but I also enjoy using the English Standard Version (ESV) every now and then. As you can see, the ESV is a more formal translation but the CSB is a more readable translation. The main reason that I have used the CSB more is that it was the only Bible translation I had when I wanted to really start studying the Bible.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need the fanciest-looking Bible out there. Any Bible that you can read and understand is perfect. You can get a good Bible on Amazon for $20-$30 or you could go to your local Christian store and find one for around the same price.
Here are the Bibles that I use most often:
2. GET A NOTEBOOK OR JOURNAL AND YOUR FAVORITE PENS (HIGHLIGHTERS HELP TOO)
Now, you don’t have to use a specific type of notebook to take notes in. I use the Moleskine Cahier journals because the paper quality is on point. But if you don’t care about paper quality as much as I do, you could use a regular school composition notebook which usually sells for less than $1 at most stores. I am also VERY picky about my pens but if you can write with regular stick pens, use those. God doesn’t need you to break your bank in order to have quality time with Him.
These are the notebooks/pens that I use while I study the Bible:
3. SET ASIDE TIME
Every morning, the first thing I do is plan out my day. I grab my planner and my Frixion pens and write out everything I have to do, being sure to include a section for my quiet time. This really helps me keep my priorities straight. If I didn’t take time to plan my day, 4 times out of 5 I would skip spending time with the Lord so that I could start on something else that felt more important to me.
I don’t have to spend two hours in the morning trying to understand every concept in the Bible. Most days, I just set aside 30 to 45 minutes to pray, read the next section of what I’m studying (I’ll talk more about that later), and take notes on that section.
“But I don’t have time throughout my day to study my Bible…” I know. I know. I hear ya.
Here’s the best advice I have for people who “don’t have enough time” to read the Bible: wake up 30 minutes earlier. As someone who likes to sleep in, I had to train myself to get out of bed as soon as my alarm went off and sit at my desk so that I wouldn’t be tempted to roll over and fall back asleep. Once I’m at my desk, I plan my day and read my Bible. That 30-45 minutes I spend meditating on God’s Word changes my mood for the entire day. I’m a completely different person when I wake up early and give the Lord the very first minutes of my day.
However, if you are a night person who can stay awake for an extra 30 minutes before going to bed, use that time to study instead. It doesn’t matter what part of your day you decide to study, it just matters that you set aside time to read God’s Word.
I have used the Day Designer to plan my days for the past few months and I absolutely love it:
Before I even open up my Bible to start reading, I spend a few minutes in prayer. I pray for anything that my friends or family have asked me to pray for and then I ask the Lord to bless the time I spend in His Word. This gets my heart and mind ready to receive whatever He has for me as I study. If you are a believer, asking the Holy Spirit to give you discernment and guidance as you read can be the biggest difference in whether or not you understand the passage(s).
Most of the time when I pray, I just sit at my desk and silently tell the Lord what’s on my heart. Sometimes I will feel the need to write prayers down so I will grab my prayer journal and a pen, and I will write out the words I want to say. I know people who write every prayer down and I know people who have never written a prayer down. It all just depends on your personal preference.
5. HAVE A PLAN
Don’t worry, I’m not going to copy and paste point #3 from above here. This planning is more about knowing what you are going to study.
It is important to know what you are going to study BEFORE you start reading. It is a common but dangerous practice to just flip to a page in the Bible, read a little section, and go on about your day. If we do that, we miss the major context of the verses we read and confuse ourselves even more.
The books I typically recommend to people who have never tried to study the Bible before are James, Romans, or the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Once you understand more of who Jesus is and what it means to be a true follower of Him, you can move deeper into the New Testament or get into the Old Testament to understand more of what the world before Jesus was like.
The best advice I can give you is to choose a book of the Bible to start studying and read it from beginning to end. Each day, break the book down into small passages so that you aren’t overwhelmed by the amount you have to read. For instance, if you decide to start studying James, just stick to verses 1-11 of the first chapter so that you can dig deeper into those verses to get a better understanding of them. Then the next day, study through verses 12-18 and so on and so forth. Don’t worry if you get less than 10 verses done each day. The important thing is that you start to grasp the meaning of the text and understand why it is important for you as a Christian to know it.
6. BE INTENTIONAL
There will be times when you are studying, and you still don’t understand what the Lord is trying to teach you. Don’t give up! Those are the moments when He is cultivating your heart to really understand what is happening in that passage. There have been many moments where I have read a passage and thought “that makes no sense” and then I’ll reread it the next morning and the Lord has given me a greater understanding of it. In the Lord’s perfect timing, He will give us wisdom.
There are going to be times where you don’t really feel the Holy Spirit moving in you, but you have to remain faithful to read God’s Word; you are learning more than you may give yourself credit for.
7. GET SOME RESOURCES
If you ever get to a point where you say to yourself “Okay, I’ve read through this passage a few times and I want to know what other pastors/Bible teachers/theologians think about it…”, you should look into getting some type of resource to help you understand the passage even better. There are a few different types of resources out there that can be very beneficial for someone who is just starting to study the Bible. However, there are some false teachings in the world so you should ask your pastor or other solid Christians for their recommendations when it comes to each of the following:
One such resource is called a commentary. Essentially, commentaries are the Bible study notes of theologians, pastors, and other leaders in the church who have spent a lot of time reading and studying certain books of the Bible. Since commentaries are written by flawed humans, it is important not to use commentaries as a stand-alone substitution for the Bible itself. It is also important to only use commentaries from trusted Bible scholars who have studied the Bible for years and years.
The most effective way for me to use a commentary in conjunction with studying my Bible is to read the passage of Scripture in my Bible first and while I read, write down any questions that I may have or different points that really stand out to me. After reading through the passage in the Bible (sometimes 2 or 3 times), I open up the commentary I’m using to the respective section that I read through in the Bible and read what the commentary author had to say about the questions I had and the points I wrote down. Once I’m done reading through the commentary and taking notes on it, I go back through the passage in the Bible one more time to make sure that I understand the flow of it and, if necessary, I will make a note in the margins of my Bible of the most important point from that passage.
Right now, I am studying through Hebrews and have used the commentary linked below to help me understand different concepts in the passages throughout the book:
- Bible dictionaries
Bible dictionaries are pretty self-explanatory. They are dictionaries that focus on words in the Bible. Knowing the true meanings of words in the Bible helps a great deal when trying to understand different passages in the Bible.
You don’t have to have a physical copy of a Bible dictionary to find the definition of a word in the Bible but for those of you who enjoy having a physical copy, I have linked one that I’ve seen pastors use during their sermon prep. For others of you who want the free online option, I have linked the website that I use to look up words:
Concordances are another great tool to use when studying the Bible, especially if you want to know more about a specific topic. A concordance is a list of words found in the Bible and shows where each word is found in each book of the Bible. In addition to a dictionary, a concordance can help you better understand the definition and context of a word.
Like a Bible dictionary, there are a few concordances found online for free but I have also linked one of the most popular options of a physical copy of a concordance below. (Some Bibles also include a short concordance in the back):
- Sermons on podcats/Sermon Audio
As someone who loves the Bible and tries to get as much out of it as I can, I have started listening to sermons on my Podcast app and online. This way I can just search the passage of Scripture that I read that day, find a sermon by a pastor that I know and trust, and listen to the sermon as I drive. This way, I get an even deeper understanding of the passage of Scripture and shouldn’t lack any knowledge of its importance.
(I will do a post on different podcasts I recommend soon!)
I recommend looking up sermons on the Podcast app on iPhone or iPad or using Sermon Audio to find sermons/pastors that have been recommended to you by your Christian friends. Sermon Audio has different filters you can use to find the perfect sermon for the part of the Bible you are studying but, again, don’t let words of men take the place of the Word of God. The Bible is the ultimate authority.
Sermon Audio is linked below:
8. TAKE GOOD NOTES
There are a lot of different ways you can take notes. Just Google Search “best note-taking method” and many options will pop up.
My favorite way to take notes is to write them out as if I am going to teach the passage that I’m reading to a small group of teenage girls. Now, I take notes this way because it isn’t unrealistic that I would eventually teach that passage to a group of teen girls. If I go ahead and set my notes up in a way that helps me flow through the passage while adding comments here and there, I will be more prepared to teach when given the opportunity. This also helps me make sure that the notes I take are accurate according to the Scriptures. I need to have a good, solid, foundational understanding of the passage so that I can discuss it with anyone at any time.
9. GET INVOLVED IN A LOCAL CHURCH
The last little piece of advice I have for someone who is wanting to study the Bible more is to get to church. Whether or not you are a regular attendee of your church or you haven’t gone to church in a long time, one of the best ways to know how to study your Bible is to go to the place where the Bible is being taught. Get involved in a Bible study that your church is doing or, if there isn’t one, start your own! It’s a great opportunity to be held accountable in your own study of the Bible and it gets other people digging into the Word too. If you are too young to start a Bible study in your home, talk to one of the older leaders in your church about getting one started.
Another thing you can do is to ask a leader in your church if they could help you walk through a book of the Bible with you. As a volunteer in a local church, I thoroughly enjoy when younger girls come up to me and ask me to study a book of the Bible with them. It gets me studying and it helps me really dig into the Word so that I can help the girl(s) understand it better.
Going to church and hearing sermons preached on the passages I am learning about helps me understand it so much better. Different people will glean different things from the same passage of Scripture because it can relate to us in different ways.
As you can see, there are many tips and tricks to start studying your Bible (believe it or not, there are many, many more tips I could add). I hope you have learned the importance of making Bible study the top priority in your life and how to get started on that journey.
Comment below and tell me which tip or trick you are most excited about trying and let me know what book of the Bible you are studying. If you have any questions, comment them below as well.
Sign up for email updates on the right side of your screen to be notified of when I post more Bible-related content. I plan on adding a few more posts about effectively studying the Bible and memorizing passages toward the beginning of the New Year.
Thank you for reading!
Grace and peace,