Reading scripture is challenging. It’s an ancient compilation of documents, written by multiple people and communities over centuries of history, reflecting multiple cultures. The Bible is a whole different world from our own. Those barriers can be daunting. Sometime so daunting we leave it to “religious professionals”.
That said, God speaks simply and clearly through scripture despite all these challenges. So simply and clearly that a little child can read it’s stories and know God and be changed. It’s true, the more time we invest and the better we understand the nuances of scripture the more “at home” we feel in the strange world of the Bible.
Here are some tips for simply starting and trust that God can speak simply and clearly to you.
- Just start. Like anything, showing up and beginning are critical. Start with a simple prayer: “God if you are real, and if you speak through this word, help me hear you.”
- Don’t start alone. Ask someone to give you suggestions about where to start. Ask that same someone if they will read with you. Talk with each other about what you’re reading.
- Focus on what you do understand, not what you don’t. You’ll have lots of questions and be confused by many things as you read scripture. But as you read some things will be crystal clear. Focus on what you do understand.
Here are some simple questions to guide you as you start reading:
- What did you like or find interesting about what you read?
- What troubled you or what questions do you have about what you read?
- What do you sense God is asking you to do or to be as a result of reading this text? Obey what you know. Mark Twain famously said, “I ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.”
- Who should I share this with? For example, you might tell a friend or a loved one: “I was reading this story about loving one another and I thought you might enjoy it too.”