However, although reciting the Qur'an is meritorious and is a form of worship for which you will be rewarded, the true benefit of reading the Qur'an comes from comprehending and living its message. The best way is to do this to seek the correct knowledge from a learned teacher, but this guide is intended for those who do not have the resources to do so.
Therefore, start by looking for a reliable translation of the Qur'an in the language you are familiar with. There are several reputable English translations in the market, the most famous ones being Yusuf Ali, Mohsin Khan, Muhammad Taqi Usmani and Sahih International. All of these versions are popularly used and are available for free online at www.quran.com. In their hardcopy format, the Yusuf Ali and Mohsin Khan versions contain extensive footnotes, which are helpful if the reader requires more context, while the Sahih International version takes a simpler approach of translating the verses literally without any commentary. The language used in Yusuf Ali is a bit old fashioned and may be difficult for some to understand. We also note that the the online version of Mohsin Khan's translation tend to have too many brackets within the translation itself, which tends to make it confusing for the reader as to which is the original text and which is the author's explanation. In all, we find that the English translations of Muhammad Taqi Usmani and Sahih International to be the easiest to follow. Please remember that the translation also depends on the personal preference and discretion of the translator, hence there is no "standard" English translation of the Qur'an and the translations will differ.
What is important is, do not give your own interpretation to Qur’anic verses. You have to ensure that you receive the correct knowledge and understanding of the Qur’an. Should you wish to have a deeper understanding, please seek authentic interpretation/explanation, as prepared by the early scholars such as Ibn Katheer. In case of doubt, please verify with a learned person or by reading a reliable tafseer. Do not rely on your own personal understanding, as it is prone to corruption and misinterpretation.
Preparation: Respect what you read
Given that the Qur'an contains the direct words of God, the first thing you should do is to respect what you are about to read. The first step, as a matter of adab or manner, is to prepare yourself physically and spiritually.
Physical preparation involves being in a state of cleanliness and purity, for example, dressing in clean and modest clothes, and purifying yourself physically (if possible by taking ablution or wudu). Also, try to find a calm, neat and clean environment.
Spiritual preparation involves being in the state of mind that would help you obtain the divine benefit of the messages. The first prerequisite of personalizing Qur’an is absolute humility and humbleness to Allah SWT. The more you are poor to Allah SWT and aware of your ignorance and acknowledge your need for Allah SWT and His divine guidance, the more you will be granted, by the will of our Creator, the in-depth understanding of the Qur’an. Hence, approach the Qur'an with sincerity and honesty.
Set your intention
In all acts of worship, and in fact, in every single act that we do in life, we will be rewarded based on our intention. Hence it is a basic principle that we should set our intention first before embarking on any undertaking.
It is the same with the Qur'an. The benefit you will derive from it will be based on your intention. Before you read the Qur’an, remember that the Qur’an reads you first, reads what is in your heart, and responds accordingly.
Hence, what is your intention when you read the Qur’an?
To improve your recitation or memorisation?
Because it’s a routine?
To gain knowledge?
To find a solution to your problems?
To seek forgiveness?
To improve your relationship with God?
To achieve some peace and tranquility?
Whatever benefit you sincerely hope to derive from the Qur’an, is what Allah SWT will grant to you. Hence the reading of the Qur’an should be preceded by a conscious and sincere intention, and insha Allah SWT, you will find what you are looking for and get rewarded according to your intention.