I’ve opened my Bible…what next?

Time to read: 4 mins

Maybe you think this is a strange question. However, New Year is often a time of reflection and looking forward, a time when we think about what we might do differently in the year ahead. I would encourage you to spend some time thinking about how you will read your Bible in 2019.

This time last year 6 Tips for reading your Bible in 2018 prompted you to think about the practicalities of a daily quiet time and how to structure your personal Bible reading. It is worth re-reading this.

In this post we build on this, looking at how to actually go about reading the Bible once you’ve set aside some time, selected what part to read and opened it.

‘Dwell in you richly’

Bible reading is so important. After all, the Bible is God’s Word written for us, to teach us about ourselves and about God. However, simply reading your Bible as a daily chore or duty to tick off on your ‘to do’ list will not bring you the benefits God intends.

So, it is important to consider how you read your Bible. In Colossians 3:16 Paul exhorts us to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” God’s word is the source of all true wisdom and if this wisdom is to be found in our hearts then it is through the word dwelling in us – the Greek word here really means to ‘make a home in’ or ‘inhabit’. ‘Richly’ is a very full word, and if God’s word is to dwell in us richly then we must read it carefully, study it, remember it and seek to understand its meaning and how it applies to our lives.

Five tips

Below are five tips for reading your Bible which I have found helpful in my own daily reading:

  1. Pray before you read – always ask God to help you in your Bible reading. You can pray for concentration, for understanding, and that God will teach you as you read. Someone once encouraged me to pray that God would change me through the reading of his word and I have found this to be a good prayer before opening my Bible.
  2. Study what you read – don’t just give a cursory reading, but take time to understand. Look up words you don’t understand. Perhaps use a commentary or study Bible to help you understand passages which are not clear on first reading. Look up cross-references to see how different parts of the Bible link together. Jesus exhorts us “Search the scriptures…” (John 5:39) this is more than simply reading them and then putting them down until tomorrow.
  3. Memorise what you read – If there is a part of your reading which really stands out to you then try to commit it to memory, this will help you to remember what God was teaching you through it. Perhaps try to learn a new verse each week.
  4. Meditate on what you read – Spend time thinking about what you have read. If you memorise a section this will help you to think on it throughout the day. You could ask the following questions as you read:
    • What does this passage teach me about God? Myself? Christ? God’s grace?
    • In this passage, is there a truth to believe? A promise to claim? A sin to avoid? A command to obey? An example to follow?
    • Is there anything in this passage that prompts me to change something?
  5. Apply what you read – As you read and meditate, always have in mind the question, how does this apply to my life? Considering the questions above will help with this. If there is a clear application to some part of your life in what you are reading then pray that God will help you to obey it or put it into practice.“…be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:23).


Building on this final point…if we hear the word of God preached but take no notice of what we hear, it’s pretty obvious that God will not be impressed. To think that God is pleased with us just because we’ve shown up to a worship service is to deceive ourselves.

The same is true if we read God’s word casually or out of duty without really taking notice of what we read. If we think that God will be pleased with us just for picking up our Bibles then we are also deceiving ourselves. We are called to be doers of the word, this a verb calling us to action, to take notice of what we read in God’s word and to act upon it in our lives day by day.

So don’t just zip through your Bible reading in 2019. Rather, seek to read it carefully and prayerfully, study it, think about it and apply it to your life so that you may “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)

You might also find Joel Beeke’s booklet How should teens read the Bible? useful. It’s full of practical advice and helpful tips. A full review can be found here.

[A00099 – 02/01/2019]

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