One way to read the bible (and one thing I've learnt about God by doing this)

Originally published Sunday, 08 March 2015.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Timothy 3:16 (MSG)

Almost on a weekly basis I’ll receive an email from a reader asking me how to know if God is speaking to them. 

One reader admitted to me, 

“I don't know how to read God's word. 

I try and read bible chapters on my own, but I don't hear or see God speak from it. 

I always pick things I don't understand. 

How do you know what and where to read to get help from God?”

Another reader commented: “I struggle about whether God can use everyday things to speak to me/us.”

I connected with what she asked because I’ve had the same questions, I’ve sometimes wondered if Timothy and I were reading the same book.

So I’m going to share a bit, honestly, about how I experience God “speaking” to me. 

For starters, there is no right or wrong way to read the bible. This is how I read it but if you prefer another method then stick with that. 

I like to read the bible with a notebook so I can jot down any thoughts or impressions that come to mind. 

I begin by picking a book of the bible or I read from where I left off before. Sometimes I’ll read just one verse other times a couple of chapters. 

If you’re new to reading the bible to hear from God maybe start with Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians or Colossians. 

Then I read until I feel God say, "stop". Perhaps the verse resonates with me or it answers a question or prayer I brought to God.

Once I feel “stop” I don’t read any further. I pray and ask God what he is saying to me and I write down whatever thoughts come to mind about the verse. 

Often I look at devotionals and commentaries related to the verse. Other times I’ll grab a dictionary and look up each word in the verse or look for other bible verses that speak about the same theme. 

If you don’t hear God speak to you at first don’t grow despondent. Keep reading the bible. 

Some days I read the bible and nothing speaks to me. I think that’s okay. 

Some times I don’t read the bible for days but still see God’s fingerprints in other things. Maybe it will be through a song that I hear, or through a conversation with a friend, or something that I read in a novel. 

For me, sometimes God get’s my attention by sharing the same message with me multiple times then I stop and go, “God, what are you trying to tell me?”

Often I find that God will use scripture I’ve memorised to speak to me by bringing it to my memory at just the right time.

One thing I have learnt about God though is that God isn’t confined by technique or limited to how you read the bible. 

He is God of mystery and romance. 

God will get your attention in a way that is unique and meaningful to you. (tweet this)

God is much bigger than the limitations I put on him.

Ponder: I’d love for you to share techniques that you use to read the bible in the comments. If you try one of the techniques written about here I’d love you to share what God tells you.

Prayer: God, thank you that nothing will ever stop you from getting through to me: not the way I read my bible, the version I read, or how I often I pray. 

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- This was orginally published on my site in December 2014. To read more devotionals like this go to