Truth bomb: Up until a year ago, I had never read the Bible.
I wish I could say that was just because I never had access to it, didn’t know of it’s existence or didn’t own one. But the truth is, I didn’t have any desire to read it. I was one of those people who thought the Bible was the most illogical thing ever, written to brainwash people into believing in something that had zero proof to back up its claims. I thought the Bible was a book read by old people to place judgment and shame on people who lived non-religious lifestyles.
Then I got saved and all I wanted was to open the Word. I craved knowledge. I craved wisdom and wanted nothing more than to draw as close as possible to Jesus and see the life he lived all those years ago. The desire I now have in my heart is almost comical to me. That’s one of the things that makes God so fascinating to me – He has a way of stirring at your heart in ways you would never have imagined.
Fast forward, I now own four bibles (not including the You Version Bible App on my phone) and through ALOT of trial and error, I have established a routine for my quiet time with Jesus that works for me. It took me months of trying to copy every Christian blogger’s routine for me to come to the realization that I learn in a very specific way and what works for someone else is not always going to work for me.
MY QUIET TIME ROUTINE.
Do it FIRST thing in the morning.
I find that the best time for me to have my prayer and reading time is to do it as soon as I wake up in the morning. On days that I have to get to work, I wake up an hour earlier than I need to just to make sure I get it done. I have tried squeezing it in during my commute or cramming it in before bed, but neither of those options worked for me. I’d get distracted or fall asleep. I believe that God deserves us at our absolute best and while I’m not a morning person, I can’t think of a better way to give thanks to our Father than making Him the first priority daily. Before I check Instagram, text messages or emails for the day, I feed my soul. It sets the tone for the entire day and when I skip it, I feel the difference in my mood. I recently found a way to make a little bit of a ritual out of my routine by making my morning coffee first thing! (note: I drink 100% decaf coffee due to my low tolerance for caffeine. I know, I know! I just love the flavor okay?!)
Limit distractions and take it seriously.
I try really hard to take my quiet time as seriously as I would take a morning meeting at work. I come into it prepared – my Bible, writing tools and notebook ready to go, and my heart expectant to learn and receive something new. I make sure that my phone is on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and my room door is locked. I don’t allow anything to distract me from receiving the fullness of this time with God. Anything that is vying for my attention can wait an hour.
Use tools that ACTUALLY work.
For my actual reading, I use an ESV Single Column Journaling Bible that I got on Amazon! It was the very first Bible I bought for myself and after testing out every other kind and translation, I found that this one is my favorite. The single column format allows me to write any notes or observations I may have (I usually have alot) and I enjoy being able to have the space to not have to abbreviate or limit my thoughts. I also use this NLT Life Application Study Bible that I LOVE! This particular bible includes really helpful commentary for each verse. I try not to use this too often but when I’m feeling stuck on a particular section, I use this to help make it more clear.
[highlighters & markers] I use wax highlighters instead of traditional ink because they don’t bleed through the thin pages. I use these markers solely for my journal entries which I do after I’ve completed my reading for the day.
[pens] I use these Pigma Micron pens and absolutely love them! They are thin enough to not bleed through the thin Bible pages and they also make my handwriting nice and neat. For my notes, I use these. I like to stick with one kind of point size and color just to make sure all of my entries are consistent in the way they look. What can I say? I’m nerdy enough to think about these things!
[journal] I use this notebook from Michael’s for my journal entries. I have found that just reading scripture does not help me to retain information or make it personal enough to stick. I’ve started using this notebook as a way to bring the scripture to life and help keep it in my brain after the hour is over. I use a note-taking technique that I saw on Coffee and Bible Time’s Youtube Channel. I read one chapter of whatever book I’m studying at the time and my journal entry includes a summary of the chapter, verses that stood out or that I’d want to eventually memorize, ways to live out the scripture and a prayer that’s connected to how I felt after reading. This format works really well for me because it puts pen to paper which helps me not just passively read but allows me to make my reading as personal as possible. Just sticking to one chapter a day also helps me to not get too overwhelmed or confused. I treat my study time like I used to treat studying in college, except this kind of studying is much more fun and satisfying.
Start slow and find YOUR starting point.
Reading through my one chapter daily and writing one journal entry takes me anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour depending on if I read through my study bible commentary or not. That varies based on the length and difficulty of the scripture or if I just need some extra contextual insight. As a new Christian, and someone who had never read through the Bible before, I had NO idea where to start. Because my personality tends to be a bit structured, I wanted so much to read the Bible from start to finish but I found that without much New Testament knowledge, The God represented in the Old Testament seemed really intense and made me a bit nervous. So instead, I took advice from my peers and started with the Gospels. But instead of starting in Matthew, I started my readings with John. Where you start will depend on your level of biblical knowledge or personal preference. Take advice from other Christians you know, do your research on what has worked for other people or if it helps, follow a Bible Reading Plan. I dabbled a little bit in Bible plans but found that I didn’t enjoy them. Again, it all has to do with preference.
No matter how you choose to read, God will speak to you through His word. I’ve had to learn to be okay with taking it slowly. That I don’t have to try to read the whole entire Bible in a year or memorize every verse that I like right away. This time in God’s word is not meant to be a race. Taking it slowly helps me to dive into the Word with intention, ask questions, ponder on things that stand out and as a result, I’m able to get the most out of it. Reading one chapter a day means that it’s going to take me quite a while to get through the Bible and that’s totally okay. Do whatever makes this time in God’s word as intentional and beneficial for YOU as possible. I’ve come to LOVE the Bible and reading it has become something I look forward to every day. If you’re a Christian newbie like me looking for some tips on how to read the Bible for potentially the first time ever, I hope these tips and tools will help you get started on your journey! Happy reading!