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It can be hard to know where to start when reading the Bible. There are so many different places that people say you should start reading the Bible, it can be really confusing. Where is the best place to start reading the Bible? Read on as we help you understand different options for where you can begin your journey through scripture based on where you are beginning and how to make daily Bible reading a habit that you will carry with you for years to come!
If You Are A New Believer
If you are a new believer in Jesus (or Yeshua, His Name in Hebrew) and wondering where is the best place to start reading the Bible, a great place to start is with the Book of John.
The Gospel of John introduces Jesus and His ministry and also includes some of Jesus’ most famous teachings. Then I would suggest reading Matthew, then Mark, Luke, and Acts (as many scholars view Luke/Acts as really one volume) and then onward, not neglecting the Old Testament.
If you are looking for a Bible to read along with, I recommend the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the Tree of Life Bible (TLV), or the English Standard Version (ESV). These are the versions I prefer, with Tree of Life being my favorite.
If You Are Interested In Biblical Narrative and History
If you are interested in the Biblical narrative and history or if you have been a believer for a while and want to read the Bible all the way through, then clearly the best place to start is with the book of Genesis.
The book of Genesis tells the story of creation and precedes some of the most famous Bible stories, like the Exodus from Egypt, the story of Joseph and his brothers and the story of King David and his life, the building of the Tabernacle, and the two Temples, etc.
But it also begins a story that continues to unfold all throughout until the end of Revelation and reading the Bible through from the beginning can be incredibly rewarding and open up a wealth of wisdom and understanding.
If You Are Interested In Christian Doctrine And Theology
If you are interested in Christian doctrine and theology, the best place to start is with the book of Luke, Acts, and then James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and then moving on to Romans. Again, Luke and Acts are often seen by scholars as one volume, and together they tell the story of the early church.
If You Are Looking for Wisdom or Prayers
If you are seeking wisdom then Proverbs is the best place to begin. While all books of the Bible offer wisdom, Proverbs is an absolute treasure trove of it.
If you are struggling with how to pray and want to pray from the Word, Psalms is the best place for you to go! The words of the Psalms can give you the prayers you need regardless of whether you want to cry out to God in despair or praise Him for His unending goodness!
Don’t Be Intimidated by the Old Testament or Tanakh
The Tanakh is what Christians know as the Old Testament and many people shy away from some if not all books in this important part of the Bible because they either feel intimidated by it or they feel it is the Hebrew scriptures so it is not really applicable to them.
2 Timothy 3:16 says:
Keep in mind that the only corpus of scripture they had when this verse was written were the Hebrew scriptures. There was no New Testament at that time.
So the Book of Timothy is referring to the Tanakh. So when it says ALL scripture, as a believer in Yeshua, the author is referring to the Old Testament writings, and of course now the New Testament scriptures as well.
While some of the Old Testament might be difficult to understand (I admit, I had to read Ezekiel a number of times before it stopped making my head swim), it is all valuable for all believers and there is much to be gained from its teachings.
No matter where you start, make sure to read the Bible regularly and allow it to shape your life! In fact, be sure to grab a free Bible reading plan below!
Developing a regular habit of Bible reading is so important and we cannot rely on our own willpower to do so because then we will easily get off track. You have to make Bible reading a habit and a part of daily life.
How do you do that? Well, keep reading!
Reading the Bible Each Day – Why Willpower Won’t Work
Have you ever tried to go on a new diet only to find that in a short period of time you end up giving in to cravings? Or maybe a friend eats a huge slice of pizza in front of you and you give in and grab a slice? Why does that happen?
Because we are relying on our own strength and our own discipline to maintain the diet. Our heart is not in it but rather we are doing it out of a sense of obligation.
We hear it all the time when people say “I HAVE to lose weight”or “I HAVE to go on a diet” rather than “I CHOOSE to…”
When we feel we HAVE to do something out of a sense of obligation, it will cause us to be easily swayed the first time something derails us.
We are relying on one of the aspects of our inner man; our own will.
Willpower Equals OUR Will’s Power
When we set out on a godly discipline or to develop spiritual habits, we often rely on one of the aspects of our OWN being, willpower, to do it, and in doing that we rely on the “power of our own will”. In other words, we are relying on our mind and our “soul” to keep us going in that discipline. We are relying on our OWN attributes.
And if you have ever gone on a diet just to fall off, you have experienced why this does not work.
Willpower is making a mind-based decision to do something without the heart-based surrender to God that allows Him to work it out in us. It is relying on the power of our will instead of the power of the Spirit.
We are using that soul-ish side of ourselves to do that which is really a heart-based devotion to God. This is especially important to watch out for as new believers because you are still developing those spiritual disciplines.Willpower is making a mind-based decision to do something without the heart-based surrender to God that allows Him to work it out in us. Click To Tweet
Relationship vs Religion
Religion on the other hand comes with a sense of obligation. It is a man-made list of “have to’s” and “musts” and leaves us with a sense of dread and condemnation.
Imagine being in a relationship where someone dictates how you need to speak to them, how often you can speak to them, a certain amount of time you need to spend reading about them. Would that be a fun relationship?
But yet many times that is exactly what our relationship with God looks like. A set of “have to’s” and “must do’s” that leave us feeling condemned when we don’t achieve them.In the battle between a relationship vs religion, the relationship will leave you feeling filled and religion will leave you feeling failed. Click To Tweet
You Cannot Have a Successful Relationship Without Communication
In any relationship, romantic or otherwise, communication is key. It is this that forms the main distinction in relationship vs religion.
In religion, there is a focus on must-do’s and requirements that are devised by man. They tell you how to pray, how to worship, what Bible to read and in some cases tell you you’re not qualified to read and interpret the Bible yourself at all.
Those have no place in relationship because relationship is personal. No two people will relate to someone the same way and man cannot tell you how you NEED to interact with God.
Our God is a personal God. He is not just Adonai but He is Adonai Eloheinu – the Lord OUR God.
He relates to each of us in His own way. When religion steps in, IT determines how God relates to you and how you need to relate to God, stripping away the free communication between you.
It tells you when and how to pray, what words to speak, how to dress, how to worship, how to relate to others.
This communication can only happen when we spend time in His Word and in prayer.
The Bible is not an ordinary book. It is the story of God and the story of His people. It is the story of Israel, the story of our Messiah and the coming age. We read it in a much different way than we do in other books.
Developing the Habit of Reading the Bible and Prayer – A Heart Surrendered to Relationship
So how do we develop the spiritual habit of daily reading and prayer?
Pray to Avoid Distractions
We pray and ask the Lord to keep us from any and all distractions that keep us from spending that time with Him. It never fails! As soon as I sit down to study, my phone will ring or something will happen to pull me away.
We need to be proactive in eliminating distractions. Using a Bible reading plan can help you to keep focused on what you are planning to read that day during your Bible study time.
Also, finding a quiet place is an important step toward praying with kavanah or intention.
Ask the Lord to Fill Your Heart
Ask the Lord to fill your heart with the desire to grow in your relationship with Him by reading the love letter, the books of the Bible He has given us and the Biblical narrative that so deeply shapes our faith.
As modern readers in a time when we, as a people, focus so much on how we "feel", often our "feelings" can sometimes get confused with our heart's leading so asking Him to keep the enemy at bay so that you can focus on God's leading and not on how you feel is the best way.
Find an accountability partner who can keep you on track. This can even be someone online, like in a Bible study Facebook group.
Life happens and when we are trying to follow good spiritual habits we can get side-railed. A good accountability partner will help you stay in relationship, which is so vitally important when life DOES get out of control.
Remember, do not rely on willpower to keep you going in this new spiritual habit! Stay accountable! Maybe use the same study Bible as your accountability partner or study group and read together and then you can study that key verse or verses together by looking at the meanings of words, other scripture references, etc.
A good study Bible is a great resource for partnered study time and can help you dig deeper into the Word of God and they come in all kinds of different Bible translations.
This is especially useful when reading prophetic books as they will help you to cross-reference them.
Make a Date With Him
Schedule your time so that you have a set time of day devoted to daily Bible reading, study and prayer!
One thing I have learned over time is that my day will VERY quickly get away from me if I am not careful about setting that time aside. So make a date with the Lord each day and keep that date!
You do not have to try to read the entire Bible in a certain timeframe! Start with what you are comfortable with and show up every day!
Consistency is key.
Sticky Note Challenges
Use sticky notes around your house!
Ok, this may sound odd but it works. My former church once did an all-church study on habits and each week we had a sticky note challenge that went with that week's habit.
In Christian life, having those sticky notes around where you see them every day can go a long way in reminding you to take that time out for whatever spiritual discipline you are trying to instill in your life and make Jesus Christ the center of your day and make great choices about how we spend our time!
Find a good place to put them up so that you will see them every day, even multiple times a day! Then you will remember to open God's Word and see what He has to teach you or to stop and pray or do whatever it is you are trying to build into a spiritual habit.
Reading the Whole Bible – What Should You Use?
I made some recommendations above regarding versions that I prefer.
However, reading the Bible doesn’t have to be done just by reading a physical Bible. You may choose to use your lunch hour to do your reading and it may just not be feasible for you to carry a Bible with you each day. You may ride a bike to work or walk and, while they DO make smaller Bibles, they often also have smaller print and if you are like me, it may be difficult to read.
So there are some other options for you when you cannot bring a physical Bible with you.
You can use a Bible app on your phone or tablet and read the Bible that way! The benefit to this is that you can easily switch translations and you can highlight and take notes. Blue Letter Bible is a great app, as is Bible Gateway and YouVersion Bible App. Just open God’s Word on your app and you’re ready to go!
If you CAN bring a physical Bible with you or keep one just for work, you can get a Bible cover so that you don’t have to worry about your Bible getting dirty or something spilling on it.
Be sure to get your FREE Bible Verse Phone Wallpapers below as my gift to you!
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society. Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.