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

My house is a zoo 99% of the time. My kids are either fighting over a coveted toy, whining for a snack or just being rambunctious kids.  Even though sometimes my “quiet time”, a time devoted to growing my relationship with God through Scripture reading, is anything BUT quiet, these simple methods helped me learn to read the Bible as a beginner.

Using these simple Bible study methods, I went from feeling that God was distant to a thriving relationship with Him. It was through learning to study Scripture on my own where my relationship with God started to flourish. And yours can too, friend? 

In the early days I had no idea what I was doing, but God met me in those still, quiet moments.  While I did a lot of fumbling through His Word, I’ve learned the best thing a Bible study beginner can do is just start and show up to meet with God consistently.

As you begin or revamp your own spiritual journey, may these practical tips guide your way.

How to read the Bible (when you don’t know where to start)

Explore the Bible

The Good Book is divided into two sections; the Old Testament and the New Testament.  The Old Testament begins with creation and features passages of some of the Bible greats; Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc.

The New Testament opens with the life of Jesus and concludes with the book of Revelation; describing the end of the earth and eternity with God.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions of someone wise and knowledgeable!


Unlike most books, don’t start at the beginning

The Bible (all of it!) is the Word of God, and every word is holy.  However, once you get into the book of Genesis, you will notice a lot of genealogy and it can be a little intimidating as a beginner.

Plus, unlike typical books, you don’t have to read the Bible from cover to cover to get started. Honestly, you don’t even have to start at the beginning! (I sure didn’t!)

Instead, choose a book of the Bible that’s easier to understand, such as one of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. When I first started reading the Bible I enjoyed the book of Luke for the way it described the life of Jesus.

Plus, starting at the Gospels will help you grasp the sacrifice of Jesus, identify with His time on earth and relate to Him in a more personal way.

Look up words you don’t know the meaning

One of the biggest reasons people stumble with Bible study they’re not sure of the meaning of all the words. That’s ok!  Instead of wondering about a word, try using the dictionary feature of Biblegateway.com.   This will help you better understand the words or discover what it means in relation to the culture of the time.

Use a topical Bible reading plan

One of my favorite ways to explore Scripture is through a topical Bible reading plan.  These spiritual growth resources offer bite-size pieces of Scripture for you to read, write, and pray through each day in an organized way.

Once you’re finished with one, you’ll be very familiar with what God has to say about a certain topic or subject.  This is helpful to anyone wanting to create a Bible study habit and make a quiet time a cornerstone of their life.

However, you may want to read the verses before and after the passage, too. Or, you’ll want to clarify how this passage fits with the rest of God’s Word. If not, you may take the verse out of context or think it means something it doesn’t. But that’s a common mistake many believers make, and you won’t be alone if it happens to you a few times.

Use a Bible study method to illuminate God’s Word

You don’t have to be overwhelmed when reading the Bible!  While you may not understand everything you read, the study methods below will make it simple and convenient to process your time in God’s Word. Plus, the more you read and draw near to the heart of God, the more He will reveal Himself to you.

As a total beginner, the Read & Respond Bible study method worked well for me.  It allowed me to process what I read and think through how I could apply it to my life.

Plus, it’s practical enough to squeeze into a busy schedule. If you have 10 minutes in your day, this Bible study method can work for you!

Watch how simple the Read & Respond method can be in the tutorial video:

As I matured in faith, I was looking for a study method that went a little deeper into the passage and helped me dissect the meaning. The Write the Word study method was a perfect solution, and I enjoyed taking this next step to grow in faith.

Watch the Write the Word tutorial here: 

Keep it simple

There is no magic formula for reading the Bible, and God will reveal Himself to you as you start this journey.

Open His Word on days you need direction, you feel discouraged and hopeless, and days when you are filled with joy.

No matter what, carve time out of your busy day to daily connect with Him- even if it’s only 10 minutes. If you find yourself really short on time, don’t hesitate to use a Bible study app or even read one verse a day.

Thinking through and meditating on even one Scripture can transform your relationship with God and jump start your spiritual growth!

If you've struggled to mature in your walk with God, its's time to get off the sidelines and get into the game.

Our Favorite Bible Study Resource

To make your study time simple, check out the 40+ Bible study templates in the Family Bible Study Toolkit.  This massive resource provides a road map for 5 different study methods (including the Read & Respond Method and the Topical Study Method shown above.)

It takes the guess work out how to study the Bible and helps you process what you read.  Learn more about how The Family Bible Study Toolkit can make your quiet time simple and practical!

>Learn more about the Family Bible Study Toolkit HERE<



  1. Sarah, what a sweet surprise to see my blog here! Thank you, you made my day! 🙂 This is a wonderful post that I was coming to share anyway, but that was an added bonus! 🙂 I will be reviewing a chronological devotional bible soon, and will be giving it away. I think it’s a great way to read through the bible with more insight and less confusion. Thanks for these great tips! Love you. Heart Hugs, Shelly <3

    1. You beat me to the surprise, Shelly! I SO love your devotionals and wanted to be sure everyone else knew how amazing they are! Hugs, sweet friend!

  2. This was so inspirational. I feel closest to God when I make bible reading a priority daily and read the bible through in a year. I don’t say that to brag but I looked forward to it everyday after a while. Found you from SITS by the way!!

    1. Thanks, Bethany! It’s so true that once you get in a solid routine, you miss that daily connection with God! It’s such a blessing to connect with you and I look forward to visiting your site soon!

  3. I had started to read the Bible from the beginning to the end. My goal was to read it from cover to cover and write down all the questions I had along the way. BUT that got really tedious, so I whipped out my Through the Bible in a Year Workbook and that is helping me get through it in a more structured way.

  4. Reading the Bible can feel like such a chore, but man, when you find a verse that jumps off the page, it is amazing! Especially when it is one you have read many times and never noticed.

  5. What a lovely post. I love the Old and New Testament equally- and remember someone telling me The OT is Christ concealed and the NT is Christ revealed. I always loved that way of describing it. I am currently reading Streams in the Desert and highly recommend it as a devotional. It’s for hard places, long trials. The depth and beauty I have read in this devo, make it one of my faves. I like to read a book at a time and not in order ( although in the past I have read through in order or structured reading plans) – and vary my reading based on where God may lead…or my ADD may take me! 😉

    1. Great suggestion! I will have to check out that book and it sounds right up my alley! SUCH a great idea for how to remember the OT and NT! I will be using that! So glad you stopped by!

  6. Sarah Ann, I’m SO impressed by your videos! Excellent! Sharing this this afternoon on Facebook. Keep up the good work encouraging us to get into the Word! Pinning too. 🙂

    1. Sarah Ann says:

      Thank you so, much Betsy! I’m so glad this encouraged you!

  7. Those videos are soo good and practical! Thanks so much for making and sharing them!! 😀

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