I would like to be able to genuinely say that in every single phase of my life I have had the deepest desire to read my Bible every day. But if I am to be honest, that hasn’t always been the case. If I am being honest, I have to own up to having gone days without reading my Bible.
True, I may have read the Bible from cover to cover before, but just like my physical body, my soul also needs consistent feeding, and the Bible is one of the most precious sources for my daily bread. I know all of this, as I am sure you do too.
Most of the time the hardest part of reading the Bible isn’t being convinced it is a habit we need. Oftentimes the hardest part is forming the habit of taking the time to read. Every day the to-do list gets longer and longer and setting aside time for devotions gets pushed lower and lower on that list. Other times, we just don’t feel like reading the Bible anymore.
When we do sit down to read, we’re faced with not knowing where to begin.
While it makes sense to start at the beginning, Genesis, it doesn’t always have to be that way.
In my experience in delving back into the Bible, I have come across 5 books that have helped me restore my Bible-reading habits, and I’m sharing them below in no particular order. Who knows, maybe they’ll provide a place for you to start too.
1 — Psalm
It was probably quite predictable to see Psalm in this list, wasn’t it? Psalm is filled with the most heart-wrenching cries for help that I have found often echo my own worries and despair:
“I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
The Psalmist struggled with a lack of faith and the weakness engraved in our humanity, and his psalms often begin with statements declaring his anguish. But the beauty of Psalm is that in the same chapter the psalmist will finish with hope, praising God for His continual mercy, grace, patience, and understanding towards mankind.
Don’t be discouraged, while the book itself may be long, the chapters provide concise, relatable, and uplifting “pick-me-ups” for the soul.
“…hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”
“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”
2 —Esther (A Favourite Bible Book)
Reading Esther has always been a spiritual experience for me because as a child I always felt Esther was included in the Bible just for me. It was the perfect love story, with elements of comedic irony, and a satisfying amount of description.
Every time I would begin to read Esther and was met with the detailed descriptions, I felt as if the book were a love letter from God just to me.
It felt like proof He knew how much I enjoy narratives, and He inspired each word just for me. I always read Esther in one sitting. It is a book that warms my heart and inspires my spirit. Who isn’t inspired to pursue the faith it takes to make Esther’s words— “…if I perish, I perish,”—their own when it comes to keeping God’s commandments?
Esther may not have the same effect on you. The point is to substitute here any book with which you have connected in the past. Perhaps when you first began reading the Bible, it was one of the Gospels that made you feel closer to God.
When we feel like reading the Bible the least, that’s when we need it the most. Sometimes it can be easier to read something familiar. Your favorite book is a good place to start.
If you don’t have one yet, start with mine and keep reading; you’ll find yours soon.
3 — Hebrews
Often, the fact that I don’t want to read the Bible is a sure sign that reading it is exactly what I need to do. It’s usually a sign of wavering faith. Hebrews feeds faith. Chapter 11 is a well-known chapter dubbed the “Faith Chapter”. However, all of Hebrews talks about God’s efforts to personally address His people, to the point He sent down the greatest form of communication of love—His Son.
Hebrews, like the rest of the Bible, is a book with so much underlying meaning that it can be read over and over again, and it will grow deeper and deeper in meaning with each read.
“Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
4 — 1 John
1 John is often one of the first books we suggest to those unfamiliar with the gospel and with good reason. It’s a letter whose theme is that of the Father’s love. It simultaneously exhorts the reader to forsake the world and cling to the Saviour, while giving the best reason to do so—divine love.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:” 1 John
James is about putting things into perspective. It is about realizing that temptations mean we are growing in faith, that one of our greatest battles will be the battle against self, and it’s about realizing our full dependency upon God.
“For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
There is another strong theme throughout James—that of love in community. The entire book is addressed to a church body, and it serves as a reminder to each of its members to love, respect, and refrain from judging one another, and that even the most unassuming member has an important role to play. James also places an important emphasis on love through actions, which speak to true character.
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world,”
There you have it—my 5 books to read when I don’t quite feel like reading the Bible. However, there are also two key things to remember before reading and making Bible-reading a habit:
1. Always pray before reading so that God may guide you and your understanding.
2. Set apart at a time that you know will work for you. For instance, for many people it works to read in the morning before they begin their daily activities. For me, it’s the opposite. I can focus better when my day is winding down. Find what works for you and stick to it.
Of course, the most important thing is to read and engage in communion with Christ. The books I mentioned may have given you a place to start, but there’s no rule on which book to read first. After all, there are messages in all of them just waiting to find their way into your heart.
God bless you and happy reading!