Bible engagement for those who struggle to read
As Christians, we believe that the Bible is God’s Word and the primary way of knowing God. It shows us how we should honour him with our lifestyle and make him known to others. We believe in ‘The divine inspiration and infallibility of the Old and New Testament Scriptures as originally given and their supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct’, as our church statement of faith puts it. We know that ‘all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
In short, we believe that the Bible is very important; important to understand with our minds; important to be revealed by the Holy Spirit to our spirits; and important to be lived out in our everyday life.
When I first became a Christian, I was told that reading the Bible was like food and prayer was like breathing. That was great advice, but there was a problem. I’m not a good reader. I have gotten better over the years, but I wouldn’t say I’m a great reader even now. So how do I and others like me get the Bible into our minds, hearts and spirits?
Here are some tips which have helped me over the years. I hope you find them helpful too.
Change your mindset. I find the term ‘Bible engagement’ more helpful than ‘Bible reading’. One of the definitions of engagement is ‘an encounter’ and that’s what we are really after – an encounter and engagement with God’s Word. Reading itself isn’t the goal and it doesn’t matter how much we read. I used to think to myself, ‘I have read the Bible – job done!’, but if I hadn’t understood what I’d read or asked myself questions about it, I hadn’t engaged with it and my reading had little purpose.
Listen to an audio version and follow along with the written version. There are many free apps that you can use. I use an old phone with no SIM card so I know I’m not going to get messages popping up and be distracted!
Start by asking God to help you understand and ask him to show you his truth as you engage with the Bible. This is obvious but so important!
Find a good place and a good time for your Bible engagement and try to make it a habit. Have an ordered plan to go through the Bible. It doesn’t have to be in a month or a year, it’s not a race. You may stop at a certain part for days, or even weeks, but having a plan will help to make sure you engage with the whole Bible, not just your favourite bits.
Get together with a friend, or friends, to look at the Bible. You may have heard of gym buddies, why not have a Bible buddy?
Get a good overview of the Bible. The Bible Course by the Bible Society or God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts are both really helpful video based resources for seeing how the whole Bible story fits together. It’s also helpful to get an overview of a particular Bible book before you start it, so that you can find out about the context the book is written in and how it fits into the bigger picture. The Bible Project on YouTube is a great resource for this. Things make more sense when we understand the story they fit in to. Find out about the writing style of the part of the Bible you’re looking at – is it narrative, poetry, a letter….? The Bible Project has many YouTube clips about this or you could ask someone to help you.
Make notes when you listen to sermons. If sermons are recorded, listen to them again. Good sermons should be full of God’s Word and listening to them is a way of engaging with God’s Word.
Finally, if you miss a day or more of Bible engagement, get back into it! Remember, the Bible is food and just because you skipped breakfast and lunch, you don’t have to skip dinner too! In other words, start again. Don’t let the guilt of yesterday stop you from moving forward today.
Let’s get into the Bible and let the Bible get into us.
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