By Nathan Anenson
How many Bibles do you own? The number may surprise you. According to Lifeway Research, 85% of U.S. households own a Bible, and the average household owns 4.3 Bibles. The Bible is the world’s bestseller—44 million copies of the Bible sell every year.
But how many Bibles are read? On any given day, Christians in the U.S. are twice as likely to open Facebook than open their Bible. But people who engage with Scripture at least four times per week are less lonely, less angry, less bitter, and less spiritually stagnant. Additional studies reveal that regularly reading the Bible as a kid is the biggest factor in predicting the spiritual health of young adults, and students who regularly read their Bible are less likely to drop out of church. There’s just something about the Bible.
So how do you read the Bible?
- Choose a good Bible translation. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. So, it is translated into English and there are many options. Older translations, like the King James Version, can be hard to read. Pick a translation that has a good balance between accuracy and readability, like the NIV, ESV, or NLT. Also, a good study Bible provides helpful notes to understand the Bible better.
- Don’t start at the beginning. The Bible is made up of 66 books. The 39 books of the Old Testament tell the story of God and his people before Jesus came to earth. The 27 books of the New Testament pick up the story beginning with the birth of Jesus. Start with the Gospel of John, an eyewitness account of the life of Jesus. If you read one chapter of John a day, (which will take 5-10 minutes) you’ll read the book of John in 21 days.
- Choose a time and place that’s right for you. Many people read their Bible first thing in the morning, before daily distractions get in the way. But if mornings aren’t your thing, no worries. That you read God’s Word is more important than when you read God’s Word.
- Use SOAP. SOAP is an acronym that stands for: 1) Scripture. Read a section or chapter of Scripture. 2) Observe. What’s the main message? What words or details stick out to you? 3) Apply. Ask God what He wants you to know about Him, or how he wants to guide, encourage, or change you. 4) Pray. Pray for wisdom, strength, and love to live what you have read.
It’s never too early and it’s never too late to start reading the Bible. May God give you peace for today and hope for tomorrow as you daily read His Word.