Starting to read the Bible can be intimidating. There are difficult pronunciations, detailed genealogies, and a myriad of different cultures represented in the Bible. It is true that the Bible is a challenging read, but you needn’t do it alone. Pray to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to teach you about God through Scripture, and ask Him to lead you to verses that speak to you and your situation.
The most important part of starting to read the Bible is simply to do it. Pray before you start, asking God to make the Scriptures understandable. If there is a particular book of the Bible that you feel led to start in, make that your starting point. When I became a saved Christian, the first book of the Bible I read was the gospel of John. I was drawn to the way Jesus is so thoroughly explained, both who He is and what He did. In particular, I loved reading about the way Jesus healed people with diseases that were often lifelong and seemingly impossible to be cured. People who couldn’t speak, people who were blind, people who were paralyzed, people with leprosy, people with seizures, people with internal bleeding were all cured by Jesus while He was here with us on Earth.
This is an example of how exciting it is to read the Bible. There are so many awesome truths we can find in our Bibles. We can learn about human nature, we can witness God’s unconditional love, we can see others like ourselves who lean on God to get through the trials of this life.
Looking for good, practical advice? Try Proverbs, a book of the Bible that was written by King Solomon (the son of King David). One of my recent favorites in Proverbs is found in Chapter 19, verse 11: A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. [NIV Bible] This verse is the perfect example of how different God’s ways are from our ways. In God’s eyes, it is better to display mercy when someone offends us. Showing mercy to someone who otherwise deserved our anger is a sign that the Holy Spirit is gaining strength inside of us as we listen to His inner promptings. The more you read the Bible, the more you will see the truth in it!
God has recently taught me an important lesson that is changing my life. I’ve lived a large part of my life tiptoeing around various fears and expecting the worst. I’ve been a lifelong pessimist, always afraid to really want something lest it be snatched away. The future has always seemed threatening to me, because I don’t know what might happen or how I’ll be able to cope.
God has shown me that my fear builds when I try to control people and situations. He’s told me plainly that when I try to control something or someone, I am accepting responsibility for how it turns out. And I will admit that there are a fair amount of things I worry about that I have no control over. I try to control them by anticipating them and preparing to be disappointed (or devastated). Mainly I don’t want to be caught off guard, so I have to be on guard, which leaves little room for calm.
When God gives you His wisdom, you know it’s right. It’s so obviously true, there’s no doubting it. And what God was saying to me was that I would have to stop trying to control everything if I wanted peace. I release anxiety when I accept that some situations/people/circumstances can’t be foreseen, changed or controlled. I am not personally responsible for making sure that people won’t hurt or disappoint me, because they are making their own decisions, and I can’t control what they do or don’t do. I can’t predict the future, so I don’t know what lies ahead, and I can’t condemn myself for that!
This revelation has helped me in two ways–I’m starting to see the harm I bring on myself by trying to control things that are outside of my control, and I can let myself off the hook for not anticipating every scenario that could cause trouble. Letting go of my rigid hypervigilance is giving me much-needed relief from the feeling that I’ve got to make sure everything turns out okay. God is truly blessing me with these truths He has given me, because they have made an immediate difference. And each time I resist the desire to dictate and control, I get a little more peace as a reward. 🙂
The more you pray and read the Bible, the closer you will get to God. He will start to speak to you. He may speak to you through a Bible verse that will address your situation. He may give wisdom to people around you to guide you toward right choices. He may also speak to you through the “still, small voice” of the Holy Spirit.
When you are a saved Christian, the Holy Spirit dwells inside your spirit. In this way, you can be directed by the Holy Spirit from within. He will strike your conscience when you consider doing something that will hinder you. He will bring knowledge to you directly by speaking to you in that still, small voice. Basically, that means that you hear His voice in your heart, soul and mind. It just comes. His voice is different from your own thoughts. The reason it is referred to as the still, small voice is because the words of the Holy Spirit can be easily never heard if you aren’t close enough to God to realize it’s Him, or if you dismiss His voice as your own thoughts.
Hearing God’s voice takes practice and time. You have to decipher between your own thoughts and the words of God. One way to do this is to ask yourself, “would I have known this on my own? Is this a different approach than one I would usually take?” Over time, God will help you to discern between your own thoughts and the voice of the Holy Spirit.
It has been my experience that when I make an effort to get to know God by studying the Bible and praying regularly, I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly and more often. God will reward your efforts to know Him better.
We get to know God by communicating with Him. When we pray, we are going straight to God in our own voice and our own words. There’s no need to recite or memorize anything, just be yourself! God already knows everything about you. He knows what you sound like and who you are.
Your prayers are welcome! Pray in your mind, pray out loud, and remember that you can go directly to God in prayer at any time. You don’t have to have a specific prayer to pray, you can just talk to Him about what is going on in your life. I tell God when I’m irritable, when my feelings are hurt, when I’m in pain. I talk to God about the things I’m trying to improve on. I thank God for the help He gives me, and how He loves me and gives me second (and third and fourth…) chances. God is a wonderful counselor–He is patient and loving, He’s never too busy to talk with you, and He won’t lose interest or forget what you talk about! There is a wonderful feeling of freedom when you talk to God, because everything is already on the table, and He wants to be there! Pray in your own voice, be your authentic self, and He will draw close to you.