Next in our series #operationreadmybible…
I don’t read my Bible (even though I want to) because
I don’t understand it.
This is one of the harder reasons to get past. Because you can’t just muster some willpower and understand your Bible. You can’t discipline yourself into understanding the words on the page.
So how do you go about understanding what you don’t understand? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Concentrate. Don’t read in front of the TV. Put away your phone. Turn down the radio. And focus on the words.
2. Pray. Before you read, ask God to help you understand what you’re reading. I like to pray this from Psalm 119: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”
3. Pick a modern translation. If you’re struggling to understand the Bible, it might be because your translation’s out of date. Consider two brand new translations (NOT paraphrases): The Voice Bible or The Kingdom New Testament (Message me if you’re wondering what a translation is).
4. Read the introductions and footnotes. If you’re not using a study Bible, use one. And when you do, be sure to read book introductions and footnotes. Those things are money. They explain context. And context is key to understanding.
5. Practice good reading habits. Here’s where the English teacher in me comes out… When you read, you are guaranteed to comprehend more if you intentionally interact with the text. Meaning: Highlight stuff. Make notes. Jot questions in the margins. Write modern examples beside Bible commands. In other words, talk back. A messy Bible is a happy Bible.
6. Use the Google. Never before in history has it been so easy to get answers to your questions. Who were the Pharisees? What’s a tabernacle? What makes a prophet a prophet? Why is this book broken up into numbered sentences? All of these are easy questions to answer. Ask the Internet.
7. Phone a friend. You probably have a friend who knows more about the Bible than you do. Text questions. He or she will be delighted to help.
8. Don’t get hung up. There are things in the Bible you will not understand. Don’t worry about it. Focus on what you do understand. I promise you’ll find plenty. Each time you return to a text you’ll bring more knowledge and more experience. So what you miss this time, you’ll probably catch next time. I mean, you’re going to be reading this book for the rest of your life. Leave something for later. :)
Do you have more suggestions for confused Bible readers? Share in the comments.