They say the hardest part is getting started.
I’m not sure who “they” are, and surely “they” haven’t met many people like me.
Excellent starter, horrible finisher—even when it comes to Bible study. (see 7 Practical Bible Study Tips for the Easily Distracted)
But this past week I’ve woken up and have felt anxious and uncomfortable about opening my Bible. And it’s been miserable.
I want to feel confident opening God’s Word.
I want to dive in, be refreshed, and use what I learned throughout my day.
Instead of my usual moping around in frustration—or simply avoiding the Bible (normal Kelsey)—I decided to make a list of all the ways I could get started. I challenged myself to make sure none of them required I buy or find a plan online.
(Not that there is anything wrong with Bible study “plans” I simply wanted to give myself zero excuses to get started.)
So here’s what I came up with.
(This post contains affiliate links.)
6 Doable Ways to Begin Studying the Bible (when you don’t know where to start)
1. Start at the Beginning
If you don’t know where to start the beginning is a great place. If you’re like me (someone who has attempted to read the Bible from beginning to end six-thousand times), consider listening to those familiar passages or read it in a different translation. (The YouVersion App is perfect for this!)
Ask God to open your eyes to a deeper understanding of familiar passages.
2. Go on a scavenger hunt!
Well, not literally. You can do this in the comfort of your pj’s with coffee in hand. As you’re reading whatever passage you’ve chosen, make note of all the attributes of God you come across. Keep a running list you can add to over and over again.
How awesome would that be to have a journal filled with all of the goodness of God in your own writing?
(If you want to fill up your list pretty quickly, start in Psalms!)
3. Play Jesus Says. . .
This is much like looked for God’s attributes, but instead, you’re on a hunt for what words actually left Jesus mouth. Instead of what would Jesus do, find out what did Jesus say. (Check out Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John!)
Here are some questions to ponder and get you started in the Gospel:
– What does Jesus actually say?
– What does this teach me about God?
– How should this change me?
– How have I taken His Words out of context?
4. What Does That Word Really Mean?
Christians really like our Christian-ese. You know those words that we throw around like hot potatoes—abide, sanctify, condemnation, grace, repent, atonement, redeemed.
But what do they really mean within the context of the Bible?
If you’re a word geek (ahem, me!), you’ll probably LOVE doing word studies.
Simply choose a word. You could look up any word, but some ideas are:
– a word you hear over and over again, but you’re not sure what it means (Sanctification?)
– a word that keeps coming up in your day (Justice?)
– an attribute of God you want to learn more about (What is righteousness?)
Once you have your word, use a concordance (if you have a study Bible) and/or an online resource (like BlueLetterBible.org) to find occurrences of your word, the Greek/Hebrew meaning, and cross-references to similar verses.)
5. Are you sure that’s right?
I get it. Sometimes it’s easier to read what someone else has to say about God than it is to read it directly from the source. And while I will never blanketly put down all devotionals or Christian living books (especially because I LOVE this one!), it’s nothing but beneficial to look up the cited verses yourself.
6. Bring Your Favorite Verse to Life
Sometimes when it’s hard to get started, familiarity is our best bet. So why not start with our favorite, beloved passages.
Write it out.
Look it up.
And then use ideas 2, 3 and 4 on it.
What Will You Choose?
It really doesn’t matter which idea you choose. Start at the beginning or at the minor prophets. See how many times the word love comes up or read the Bible backward.
Simply open your Bible.
Read God’s Word.
And, friend, it’s time to get started.
This was the first how-to-study-the-Bible book I read. And I can’t stop recommending it to my friends and family. Most of us have never been to seminary, but we long to dig deep into God’s Word. And this little book really jump-started my own Biblical expedition journey.