How to Read the Bible When You Don’t Know Where to Start

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How to Read the Bible When You Don't Know Where to Start |

For years, I sat with my Bible in my lap and flipped the pages back and forth. I was certain that this was how I would fall in love with the Word of God. I faked confidence that my heart would be changed while I flipped.

Really though, I was flipping because I didn’t know where else to start.

I first began in Genesis, and then got bored because I’d already heard the stories in the beginning of the Bible.

Then, I went to John, because I’d been told that John is a great place to start if you want to understand the gospel in a deeper way.

Next, the Psalms, because the Psalms are emotional and full of meaning.

I had a fierce hunger, but every time I sat down, flipped through the pages, and started reading, the hunger went away. I felt overwhelmed. Then, I felt frustrated. Then, I felt ashamed.

Why wasn’t reading the Bible easy? I love Jesus. I believe the gospel. I want to be constantly growing and grasping more truth.

But the flipping caused a fizzling of my desire to know God’s Word.

My Bible sat unread for months and months. I felt guilty because I should have been reading and growing. I felt a bit hypocritical because, well, good Christians don’t let the Bible sit collecting dust for months and months.

It wasn’t until years later that I would understand that reading the Bible does not require feeling comfortable and knowing where to start. Sure, there are times when God opens our hearts and our minds to receive radical truth while we read the Bible. But some of the time – most of the time – reading the Word is about dipping our toes in the edge of the pool to ready ourselves to jump all in.

Reading the Bible does not require feeling comfortable and knowing where to start. #intheWord #biblestudy Click To Tweet

While I was flipping through the thin pages of The Word – praying flat prayers that my Bible would fall open to the right passage – I was missing the point. I wanted to dive all in without getting my toes wet. I wanted full understanding and deep meaning and profound lessons.

But sometimes when you desperately want profound lessons, you have to first start with small, meaningful truths. You have to dip your toes and get a firm understanding. Only then are you able to dive in deep.

For me, this looked like the end of reading the Bible because I had to do so for my conscience, and the start of reading the Bible because I had to do so for my soul.

Stop reading the Bible for your conscience. Start reading the Bible for your soul. | | How to Read the Bible When You Don't Know Where to Start

In small doses, I determined to get into the Word of God daily.

I opened the Scriptures and learned about Nehemiah and his strong dependence on God.
Then, I grabbed fistfuls of the diligence of Ester and her obedience to God’s call on her life.
I saturated my mind with the truths sewn throughout Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians.
I reminded myself of my need for God while reading about the wandering Israelites and their rebellion.
And I poured the beauty of the Sermon of the Mount on my wounded soul.

And in the midst of it all – as I was dipping my toes into Scripture – I fell in love with the Bible.

Maybe this sounds great to you. But maybe you open the Bible and you flip back and forth, and then you feel ashamed for flipping, so you hide that Bible on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.

Here is my heart for you – my plea for you as you grab your Bible the next time. Today even?


1. Start with a short book of the Bible.

Some of my favorite books of the Bible are short. By no means does a short book have to be a quick read, but sometimes when you’re dipping your toes in, quick is encouraging.

There is deep truth woven throughout all of the Scriptures – even the short, digestible books.

Open to Ester. Read Ruth or Nehemiah or one of the shorter New Testament letters.

As you read, don’t worry about how much you’re reading. Rather, focus on the meaningful truths woven through all of God’s Word.

2. Don’t compare to others.

It is all too easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing. When that happens, we miss out on what God is doing in us. Someone else’s journey is just that – someone else’s. It doesn’t have to be yours.

Give yourself grace to figure out what Bible reading looks like for you, and try your hardest to quit the comparison game.

3. Seek the gospel in each passage.

The most profound and beautiful thing that can happen during Bible reading is gaining a deeper understanding of the gospel. Whether it is one word, one phrase, or one sentence – a deeper understanding of God’s grace and love is the only worthy goal.

Walk away from every Bible reading knowing that you grabbed ahold of more truth and more gospel. This is the reason for reading, because through deeper understanding of the gospel, you will be changed.

4. Learn to study God’s Word. 

Much of my Bible-flipping was because I didn’t know how to study God’s Word. But the reality is that there are numerous helpful methods for studying the Bible in deep and meaningful ways.

Be encouraged that you can learn to study the Bible for yourself! And when you’re able to do that – to guide yourself through purposeful study – you will be equipped for the rest of your life.

Bible Study Methods: 7 Ways in 7 Days is an excellent resource for getting started. This online course guides you through 7 different methods of studying God’s Word, taught via video with a comprehensive workbook and included printable pages for each method.

You will never feel lost. Rather, you’ll leave the course inspired to dig into passages of Scripture and learn about God’s Truth on your own – every single day.

As I’ve grown in my love for the Bible, it’s become a passion to help others do the same. There is nothing like making connections between two unique Bible stories, understanding the context of a verse, or knowing the audience of a certain book in Scripture. It changes everything about Bible Study.

It makes reading the Bible exciting, life-changing, and truly transformational.

Do you want to dip your toes into the sweet truths of Scripture in preparation to dive all in? Well, my friend, I invite you to join Bible Study Methods: 7 Ways in 7 Days – an online course that will equip you with tools and understanding to dig in as you read the Bible.

If you don’t know where to start, start here. Dip your toes into great truth, and then when you’re ready, dive all in. The Lord and His promises are waiting for you.

Do you have a burning hunger to read God's Word, but don't know where to start? I've been there. I was a flipper - flipping pages but getting no where. Here are my thoughts about how to read the Bible, as well as some practical places you can begin today!


38 thoughts on “How to Read the Bible When You Don’t Know Where to Start

  1. Great tips, Alison. Especially the reminder to stop comparing. Just grab your Bible and trust God to work through it to draw you closer. It’s all grace all the time. Blessings!!

    1. It is all about trusting God! He WILL use time in the Word to teach, train, equip, encourage, challenge, etc. It can be such a personal journey, so the comparison just doesn’t work. 🙂 Thanks for commenting, Deb!

  2. I want to thank you for this article. I try to reading the bible daily to learn and grow in faith. The reading suggestions are quite easy to do, and I have begun. You are and inspiration!! God bless.

  3. Awesome stuff – I can relate to this one. For the longest—I was afraid to open the bible, due to a little intimidation, like where to start and next thing I knew i was enrolled in Bible U getting all the info I need.

    Your post is right on target. Love your blog and the work that you are doing for the Kingdom. You are awesome!

    1. It can be intimidating, right?! I’m so glad you felt this post was on target. I pray that my posts reflect none of me and ALL of Christ. Thanks for the encouragement & the comment!

  4. Dear Sister in Christ,
    With due respect.I am inspired through your instruction.I realize that,through studied of the articles; It is powerful ideas for me.
    Really “A good life is a fruit-bearing tree!”
    The Lord be with your spirit.
    Thanks for great article!

  5. I love the idea of dipping in our toes! When we look at the whole book and heap up our expectations of great big ginormous truths, it can be a little overwhelming and disappointing. Then in the overwhelm, we miss the point altogether! Thanks, sweet friend, for these helpful tips! I can’t wait to share them!

  6. I really needed to read this today. I’m completely overwhelmed when it comes to trying to find a place to “dip my toes in”. This post was like it came straight from my heart. Thank you so much for the suggestions-I subscribed to She Reads Truth and cannot wait to be led to our Heavenly Father even more!

      1. Thank you very much, I’ve also stopped reading my Bible for a while because I didn’t quite understand what I was reading. That frustrated me a lot and made me finally give up on trying to understand God’s plan for me. I will definitely try this, I’m sure it will help a lot! Thank you very much x

  7. My plan is to spend a minimum of 15 minutes daily in the Word. For me that means reading 4 chapters: 1 OT, 1 NT, 1 Ps and 1 Pr that matches today’s date. This has worked well for several years making the Word rich and full, while visiting ‘old friends.’

  8. Thank you for sharing this! I too recently went through a period of feeling led to read the Word – I was raised in church and have been a Christian since childhood.. but I had never read the Bible the whole way through. Like you, I flipped and flipped, looking for that one profound verse. But a couple of months ago, I prayed that God would give me a hunger for His Word, and boy, did He provide! I just started at the beginning – Genesis, and Matthew. I would read a chunk from each book every day. Then the chunks became chapters. Then, whole books, at one sitting. As I read, the Word became alive and it wasn’t just Sunday school stories anymore – it was the stories of peoples’ lives, history; the story of God’s punishment for sin, but also His redeeming grace and absolutely profound love for us.

    I tend to get caught up in the latest trend for Bible studies.. but honestly, just opening the Bible and reading as God leads is the best kind of Bible “study” there is!

    1. I love this, Chelsea! I do believe that praying for a hunger for God’s Word is one of God’s favorite prayers to answer. 🙂 Both my husband and I have prayed that prayer, and God loves to answer it in big ways! And when the Word becomes alive like you mentioned? That is my favorite. It is the living & active Word of God. Thanks for commenting! I love to hear testimonies of how others have fallen in love with God’s Word.

    1. Whew, me too, girl! I read the NKJV daily, but also enjoy reading the NIV, ESV, and sometimes the NLT or MSG (which can read a bit more like a commentary). As for purchasing a Bible, I’d recommend an NIV to start – it is simple to read and digest, without a lot of the difficult words found throughout the KJV. I hope that helps!

  9. I’m late! You started on Monday. I started looking for God’s voice on Monday, but only today did I stumble upon this blog via pintrest. I feel like it was God that pushed me here. I’m looking forward to listening to his voice more through his word with your 5 day challage Thanks

    1. Better late than never, right? In fact, you aren’t late at all because there will be an overview with all days at the end of the challenge. 🙂 I pray that it is blessing you much this week.

  10. You are actually describing me!!I am just like that! & for years!! Thank you so much that I finally found someone I can relate to& that makes me confident that I will be able to do it!! God bless you!

    1. Aww, Pat, that makes me smile! You CAN do it! God can’t wait to meet with you in the pages of His Word. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

    1. Yes – there is so much truth even in the midst of short Bible stories. Sometimes even one verse is enough to chew on throughout the day. Thanks for commenting!

  11. Thank you so much Alison. you are amazing. jus like others said this information is very fruitful for us. in fact , m not much into bible reading as at times i jus try flipping pages just exactly like u jus bcz i don knw where to start. but thanks to God he leads me here in ur blog. Thx and may god guide and bless u for all ur good work. tc

    1. Thank you, Sheren! I pray that what you read here encourages you for many years to come. A relationship with God through time spent in His Word is a beautiful, transformational thing!

  12. Oh Alison I needed to find you today and you were there. I left my church a year ago after 56 years of membership. I am feeling lost and alone. Last month decided to begin studying the Bible on my own and purchased a NIV study Bible. I have found comfort in doing so. I needed to find order to it all. Finding your blog and your kind words have given me hope. My toes are dipped, I pray they learn while there. Blessings to you and thank you!

    1. Mary, I’m so sorry to hear about the pain you’ve experienced after leaving the church. Church wounds are especially hurtful because the church is supposed to be a safe place full of Christ’s love! I’m so thankful you found the blog and left a comment. I pray that you experience much grace and freedom as you dig into God’s Word.

  13. Dear Allison, I was raised in the Church of Christ. I could not accept the teaching that it was the only church. My life has taken many hard and twisted paths. I fell away from God and have for so long been sure He would never forgive me. This story has no happy ending. I’m still struggling . Two divorces. Then widowed twice from men who truly loved me. You just POPPED up on Pinterest this morning! And I feel like it was a message for me to keep reading. You may have been sent to me where people have not been willing to go. Thank You Geneva 67 yoa and still searching.

  14. This is so helpful! I nevwr know where to start and I have the hardest time getting deep into the word and really taking it in and keeping it in. I have a blog about life as a youth pastor’s wife. Do you mind if I link this article and reference to it in my next post?

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