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Reading the Bible is an essential part of every Christian’s spiritual growth. However, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and become bored with reading the same thing over and over again.
When that happens, we can become desensitised to God’s word and all that it has to say to us. We can skip over an important message and miss out on small details through which God may be speaking to us.
How can we keep things fresh?
Here are 10 creative ways to make reading the Bible more interesting and enjoyable so that you get the most out of your Bible study.
1.Read a different translation
You’d be surprised how much of a difference a new translation can make to your Bible reading.
It can help you to see things in ways you haven’t seen before and might normally overlook. Whereas before, the words might feel stale and the same old thing, reading these verses in a fresh way can draw out new insights.
Different translations have a different emphases on certain words or ideas. They can also phrase things in a way that feels more relevant and personal to you. Also, a verse may not be all that clear to you in one translation. When you switch to another one, the new translation may shine a light on the subject.
While I think a solid word-for-word translation is necessary for your Bible study, reading other translations has often given me a renewed love for reading God’s Word.
I most often use the New International Version (NIV) for my own personal reading. Sometimes however, I switch to other translations like the Good News Bible (GNB) or the New King James Version (NKJV).
Some people like the Message. It’s written in very modern English but is more of a paraphrase. Personally it’s not my cup of tea, as I feel it loses some of the beauty of other translations. However, others might enjoy it.
2. Use a Bible app
There are many different apps available to download now. In addition to a whole selection of different translations, these come with a variety of add-on extras. They will usually have commentaries, reading notes and devotionals.
Some have the entire Bible recorded so that you can listen to the passage and the commentary if you are travelling on your way to work or are on the move.
Many also have a section with podcasts and a library of sermons from various churches around the world.
YouVersion‘s Bible app is a great one to start with. As well as dozens of translations, it has a number of reading plans and Bible study tools. The app is entirely free and doesn’t require any in-app purchases like some others do. YouVersion also provides a version for kids, so that’s a plus.
The Bible+ by Olive Tree is also another useful Bible app with an attractive design. You can divide the screen into a commentary and the actual Bible text. This also allows you to see Greek or Hebrew versions of the text and any other lexicons.
Olive Tree’s app also has a number of translations available which you can add on and can read on your mobile device without having to be online. It has a clipboard feature which allows you to copy and paste a quote easily into social media such as Twitter or Facebook.
Bible apps are an excellent way to provide an all-round interactive user experience. They’re definitely something to consider if you want to bring your reading to life.
If you want to go old school and tech-free, there are plenty of reading notes out there that you can read in physical hard copy format.
These are good if you want to put away all the distractions of technology such as your phone or tablet and simply focus on God and his word.
There is also value in having a physical book or booklet in your hands where you can underline passages or make notes in the margin.
3. Listen to an audio Bible
Hearing the Bible read out loud and spoken can be an invaluable tool when it comes to studying God’s word. You can listen to these on your way to work or while at the gym. These are also useful for those with learning difficulties or who are visually impaired.
Romans 10: 17 says: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
There are different types of audio Bibles out there which mainly fall into two types:
1) Audio Book Bibles
These tend to be narrated and performed by a single person who will read through the book much like an audio book.
Examples of this are The Complete NIV Audio Bible: Read by British actor David Suchet.
2) Dramatic Audio Bibles
These usually have a large cast much like a film production. There will often be different narrators for each book of the Bible, and then actors performing all the roles of the different characters in the Bible.
The Word of Promise features an all-star cast including Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Marisa Tomei as Mary Magdalene and Richard Dreyfuss as Moses.
The Word of Promise Next Generation is a more youth-oriented version featuring an all-star cast that includes Cody Linley as Jesus, AnnaSophia Robb as Mary Magdalene and Corbin Bleu as Peter.
Both are produced and scored exactly like a motion picture, so it feels as if you are simply listening to the audio track of a movie without the video images. You can really imagine what is going on and be drawn into the whole thing.
What I particularly like about dramatic audio Bibles with a multi-actor cast compared to regular single performer audio Bible is that you hear distinct, individual voices for each of the characters whom you get to know over the course of listening to the word.
This particularly comes into play with examples such as King David. After having heard him facing various challenging situations in 1 and 2 Samuel, suddenly when where we hear him reciting songs he has composed in the book of Psalms, it has more meaning and brings these Psalms to life. We can recall the situations he has faced in the earlier books and they give the Psalms much more context.
Similarly, when we hear Jesus throughout the four Gospels, we get to know him and he feels more real. Then when we hear him again in Acts 9:4 when he says “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” or again in the book of Revelation, there is a sense of continuity. We have learnt to recognise his voice (or rather, the voice of the actor portraying him), and it feels different to simply reading the book on your own.
There are many other audio Bibles and audio dramatic Bibles out there to choose from. Pick the one that is best for you.
4. Watch a visual Bible film
There are many Bible movies out there. However, I’m talking specifically about films where the emphasis is less on the dramatic elements and more about a faithful, verse-by-verse retelling of the Bible.
The gospels by the Lumo Project present an unabridged, word-for-word visual translation of the life of Jesus. However, they are more like presentations than dramatically acted films. There is an overall narrator who tells the story and reads the dialogue for each character rather than the individual actors speaking it themselves.
The actors tend to go through the motions but aren’t really giving a performance. It’s good to get an overall visual understanding, and if you don’t want to be distracted by performances, but as a film itself it falls short. It’s more akin to an audio book Bible as mentioned above.
By contrast, the The Jesus Film (produced by The Jesus Film Project), is more of a dramatic performance. However, it is still a word-for-word retelling of Luke’s gospel. The actors speak the lines themselves and also act the parts, or at least recite their lines.
This is more similar to the dramatic audio Bibles like the Word of Promise. The Jesus Film has been a great evangelistic tool and has been seen by people all around the world. It is also the most translated film in history.
The Jesus Film is also available on YouVersion,
5. Memorise a book of the Bible
Memorising scripture is an interactive way of engaging with God’s word. I’ve spoken about the importance of committing scripture to memory here.
However, although learning the odd few verses is good as a starter, learning an entire book of the Bible is far more powerful.
When you have a book of the Bible memorised, it helps build your faith as you have God’s word to draw upon off the top of your head. You also can use it as your weapon during spiritual attacks.
This might seem like a mammoth task, particularly if you have trouble with even a single verse. But it is entirely possible.
I did this very thing when studying for both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Theology. I learnt several books of the New Testament by heart, including John’s Gospel, Galatians and 1 Peter.
You can also download a printable mind map cheat sheet of these creative Bible memorisation methods by entering your details in the form below.
6. Put on a dramatic reading or performance of the bible
This is similar to #5 above, except that here you’re not just memorising for your own sake. If you learn verses or books of the Bible similar to how you might learn lines for a script, you can perform it dramatically.
This is what Max McLean has done in the video above. McLean is the founder of a New York-based production company called the Fellowship for Performing Arts.
McLean has performed one-man shows of entire books of the Bible including Genesis, Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Mark. All of these he does entirely from memory while acting it out dramatically.
If you’re an actor or actress, this might particularly appeal to you.
With an audio Bible, you are simply listening to the word. It’s easy to sometimes switch off and not pay full attention, particularly if you are multi-tasking and doing something else at the same time. By contrast, if you perform the Bible, you have to think about the meaning of the words you’re speaking in order to give an accurate dramatic interpretation.
When we are doers of the word, it becomes more of a reality for us, whereas when we simply read it or hear it, we can forget. Performing the Bible can bring it to life and make reading more interesting.
7. Listen to scripture-based worship songs
An excellent way to experience the Bible is through music and song. When reading a particular passage of the Bible, try to find worship songs based directly on those verses. This will help not only with remembering the passage but also provide you with new insights.
Christian recording artists The Sons of Korah have produced a number of songs that have lyrics taken word-for-word from the book of Psalms. These are excellent to listen to and meditate upon before reading the passage.
The book of Psalms is meant to be read or sung aloud rather than read quietly in your head. When you vocalise these truths out loud, you are able to agree with them so that it becomes a reality in your life. This is done via a phenomenon known as speech acts, where you are not simply conveying information but changing a situation with your words. Speaking or singing it out loud also has the effect of building up your faith.
Integrity Music produced a number of albums under the banner “Scripture Memory Songs”. These are songs which use the words of the Bible verbatim. Each album usually had a theme such as faith, overcoming anxiety, spiritual warfare, peace and so on.
As you listen to music and even sing along with it, it can make even the driest passages of scripture feel fresh again.
8. Try Bible verse mapping
Bible verse mapping is a visual method of Bible study similar to mind mapping. It involves creating diagrams or charts that function as a map of the verses (hence the name “verse mapping).
This creative exercise allows you to brainstorm different aspects of the verse as well as related words and concepts and draw out the deeper meaning. You can compare different Bible translations and write these down on your map.
Verse mapping also focuses on how the verse applies personally to you and the lessons you can draw out of it.
It’s an effective way to engage with the Bible and take a more hands-on approach. You won’t get bored reading as you’ll be active and involved with the text.
9. Give Bible journaling a go
Bible journaling is a creative form of taking notes and illustrating passages in the Bible. There are special Bibles with extra wide margins created especially for this purpose. However, if you don’t have one of these dedicated Bible journals, a simple sketch pad will still work.
As God speaks to you while you’re studying his word, you can draw or paint specific verses in the Bible. You can also make use of other creative crafts such as calligraphy, scrapbooking techniques and stickers to bring certain concepts or promises to life.
This is an excellent way of engaging with God’s word through art and creativity. Bible journaling is not just for women either but something from which even men can benefit.
If you are particularly artistic, then this way of graphically recording God’s word in picture form will appeal to you and make your Bible reading much more exciting.
10. Use a comic book or graphic novel Bible
Try reading a comic book or graphic novel Bible for a change. It makes a huge difference being able to see the images in front of you as you’re reading God’s word.
There are various comic book Bibles available on the market catering to different tastes.
If you’re particularly into Japanese art, the Manga Bible might be your thing.
There’s also the Action Bible, which covers the entirety of God’s word. This is a slightly older style which looks like a throwback to illustrations from the 1990s.
These are great for seeing everything at once if you still want to read rather than watching a film.
One thing you’ll find about these and many other comic book Bibles out there on the market is that books like the Gospels in the New Testament usually present an amalgamated version of events, much like you would find in a film. These tend to read more like a greatest hits, while missing out many other important incidents, simply because of the difficulty of trying to combine each of the gospels into one coherent account.
Also, if you want to actually meditate upon God’s word verse by verse, it’s harder to do this because you can’t always see exactly where you are. In some ways, it’s more similar to a children’s book, simply telling the story and having pictures to accompany it, albeit in a storyboard form.
This was one of the frustrations I had when looking for a comic book Bible for my own reading. As a result of this, I was led to creating one of my own.
My graphic novel of the entirety of Luke’s Gospel includes every single verse, allowing you to follow it each step of the way from beginning to end while viewing the images at the same time. You can read more about it here.
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Finally, what other ways can you think of to make reading the Bible more interesting? Let me know in the comments section below, and if you enjoyed this article don’t forget to like and share.
Robert is the founder of Drawing on the Word. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and a Master’s degree in Systematic Theology. He also has a degree in Law and was called to the Bar. Robert previously taught religious studies and was a theology lecturer. He is an artist, musician and writer, and has created a graphic novel version of Luke’s gospel. You can follow him below.