Thursday, October 06, 2016

Getting started in personal Bible reading and prayer

Something I wrote a little while ago. Other tips?

 Getting Started in Personal Bible Reading and Prayer

It would be great to aim to read the Bible and pray briefly most days.

Be realistic. Starting with a few minutes each day is better than setting the alarm for 5am, hoping to do an hour’s Bible Study, but hitting the snooze button.

Where and when would work for you? Lots of people prefer first thing in the morning, but another pattern might suit you better.

Bible Reading

Begin by praying, asking God to help you.

Use a modern translation of the Bible. At church, we use the New International Version (NIV), which would be a good choice for most people. Children or those for whom English is a second language or those who struggle with reading might go for something like The Good News Bible (GNB) which uses simpler language. The English Standard Version (ESV) might be good for in depth study.

Read systematically rather than opening the Bible at random. Use a bookmark! Perhaps start with one of the Gospels, e.g. Mark.

Stop to think about what you read.

Jesus is the key to the Bible. The Old Testament points forward to him. The New Testament looks back to him. How might what you are reading relate to Jesus?

Perhaps ask yourself questions like:

What does this passage tell me about God / Jesus / myself / the world / following Jesus?

Is there a promise to obey or a command to follow or a warning to listen to?

Are there examples to follow or avoid?

What do you find striking / surprising about what you’re reading?

What do you think the main point or big idea of what you’re reading might be?

Pray in the light of what you’ve read:

What could you praise or thank God for?

What could you ask for his help with?

You might find some Bible Reading Notes would help you. The Good Book Company sell a good range!

Don’t worry too much about the things you don’t understand. You could make a note of them and do some research or ask someone to help you with them. What about the bits you do understand?!


Just talk to God naturally in your own words. You could sit or stand or kneel or whatever works for you. Some people find it helps them to concentrate if they put their hands together and close their eyes, but you don’t have to. It may also help you to pray out loud quietly under your breath.

You could think of using a structure like:

SORRY – say sorry to God for anything wrong you’ve done or said or thought or failed to do, since you last prayed that comes to mind.

THANK YOU – say thank you to God for his forgiveness, for Jesus and the good news about him and for any other blessings for conscious of e.g. your sleep, your breakfast!

PLEASE – ask God to help you. Pray about the day ahead. Pray that you might be more like Jesus today and that you’d be a blessing to others.

It’s good to remember to pray for others too e.g. your family and friends.

Local or national or international events might inform your prayers.

You might like to make a note of a one or two different things to pray for each day to broaden your prayers and give variety.


MONDAY: Uncle Ted

The missionaries we support in Japan

TUESDAY: The local school

The government

WEDNESDAY: The God-children

The Vicar!

You might like to finish your prayers by saying The Lord’s Prayer or use other written prayers from time to time too (e.g. The Collects from the church notice sheet or something from Common Worship or The Book of Common Prayer = The Prayer Book. An English Prayer Book gives a version of the BCP in modern English).

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