For a beginner, reading the bible, such as the ESV bibles, can seem to be a daunting task. Along with the common obstacles such as lack of motivation and lack of time, another significant challenge to bible reading is decreasing familiarity with it. While in 1960, nearly 9 out of 10 Australian households that were surveyed had a bible and read it regularly, the number declined to 45% in 2014. Interested readers will be hard-pressed to find an able mentor in their close circle of family and friends, thus deterring them from initiating bible studies.
Fortunately though, things seem to be looking up. A recent NLCS report demonstrated that the pandemic caused an increase in spiritual awareness among Australians. Nearly 20% of them reported that they prayed more often over the past year. Although a heartening finding, it is a little discouraging that not many are said to have actively read the bible. Praying is exponentially more effective when coupled with scripture reading.
If you find reading the bible intimidating, here are some tips that could help you start your journey.
Read it in a spiritual state of mind:
Understanding the bible is best done if you are open not only to the literal, but also to the spiritual interpretation of the words. If you are seeking guidance or comfort from the bible, don’t just glance over a verse. Instead, mull over how it applies to your situation and what solution it provides. It is alright if you only manage to contemplate over one verse in a day. It is still a far more effective way to read the bible than to rush through it.
Remember when and why it was written:
A common issue among modern bible readers is that they tend to forget the context of the verses. Each section of the bible belongs to different categories, both in historical and literary aspects.
Knowing the historical context in which a passage was written will give you further insight into its purpose, and applicability to contemporary situations.For instance, the story of Samaritans makes more sense with a clear understanding of their position and how other groups – such as the Jews – viewed them. There was much ill-will against the Samaritans regarding their paganistic descent and followings. Thus, the story of the good Samaritan is symbolic of the notion that even an enemy can be a neighbour, and therefore deserves to be loved.
From a literary point of view, each section in the bible could be a narrative, poem, or even prophecy. You would not read prose and poetry in the same manner. Similarly, with a biblical text, exercise your judgment first to understand the nature of the text you are about to read. You will be able to glean the meaning of the bible better when you actively read in this manner.
Read it in a group:
You are not alone in finding it a challenge to go through the bible. When you read it together with your community, you will find enlightening new ways to interpret each verse. You get to share your insights with others and enrich their understanding of the bible. Most importantly, you will be able to encourage each other to put in that little extra effort every day to achieve the goal of spiritual salvation.
Read it repeatedly, and memorize the essential verses:
Make no mistake of believing that reading the bible once in your lifetime will suffice. With each new reading of the scriptures, you will view the issues from a different perspective. Events in your life, wisdom, and foresight will help you re-interpret the bible from multiple points of view. Each reading will help you commit verses to memory (with their background, interpretation, and the guidance one can gain from it) so you can rely on it for direction even when a bible is not available.
The ESV bible is especially suited for committing to memory. While the KJV is in Shakespearean English, the ESV is an essentially literal translation of the bible. Greek words are faithfully translated to modern English making it easier to interpret and remember.
Do not hesitate to read the bible just because you feel overwhelmed by it. Each day spent without contemplating the scriptures is a day wasted in your spiritual endeavours. Pick a bible with higher readability – such as the ESV Bibles – and start with one verse a day. Implement the tips given above and take a small but sure step towards a life that celebrates His Holy Word.