Sometimes it is said regarding a friendship or romance that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” But when it comes to our interaction with God’s Word, it is more accurate to say that “absence makes the heart grow cold.” If we are not regularly exposing ourselves to the Word of God, we tend to lose our appreciation for its value and power. And as our appreciation for the Word of God grows weak, so does our appreciation for God himself.
Because we love God and seek his glory—because we do appreciate God for who he is and what he has done for us in Christ—we must therefore make Bible reading a regular part of our daily lives.
Why Do You Read?
Perhaps you need a bit of motivation to resume a regimen of regular scripture intake. If so, consider the fact that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16). Do we see the intrinsic value of God-given truth? The Bible contains truth about reality we could never have known if God had not graciously inspired the writers of scripture, guiding them by his Holy Spirit.
Have we forgotten that Jesus gave us his teachings in order to give us his joy?
We must not lose sight of the fact that “the word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah and says, “Is not my word like fire … and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29). Do we believe—as Scripture itself declares in both Old and New Testaments—that God’s Word has supernatural power? It can transform our hearts for the glory of God, teaching us to live more like Jesus lived and to love more like Jesus loved. It is fundamentally different than the greatest wisdom humanity has to offer. Do we recive it, as the Christians at Thessalonica did, “not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers”? (1 Thessalonians 2:13). God works through his Word to save us and to sanctify us, turning us from our sin and setting us apart for his service (James 1:18; John 17:17).
Have we forgotten that Jesus gave us his teachings in order to give us his joy? (John 15:11). Perhaps we need reminding that God’s Word is given to us in the first place for us to be encouraged and hopeful (Romans 15:4).
When we begin to review the nature of God’s Word and the many ways in which God promises to work through his Word to bless us and bring glory to his name, we find many reasons to pick up our Bibles and start reading.
What Will You Read?
It has been estimated that reading the Bible from start to finish can be accomplished in approximately 75 hours. An average novel (around 100,000 words) takes an average adult (reading at 300 words per minute) around 5.5 hours to finish. This means that the time required to read the Bible is almost 14 times longer than the time required to read the average novel.
In other words, the Bible is not a short book! It takes time to read and understand! Therefore, if we are not purposeful in our efforts to read, we may not finish what we start. Or, worse yet, we may be intimidated and never start at all.
If you find it difficult to fit daily Bible reading into your schedule, you may need to step back and rethink your schedule.
Scheduled reading plans provide one way to manage your Bible reading and to help ensure that you consistently progress through scripture. Such plans provide a specific passage of scripture to read each day, eventually guiding you through the entire Bible. Many customizable reading plans are available online at websites such as biblestudytools.com and biblegateway.com. Most plans will help you read the Bible in a year, or in two years. Choose a plan that will work within your schedule. If you find it difficult to fit daily Bible reading into your schedule, you may need to step back and rethink your schedule. We must not neglect God’s Word!
In addition to providing a concrete timeline, reading plans can also help by weaving together readings from both the Old and New Testaments. If we spend all of our time in the Old Testament, we will miss out on the arrival, teachings, and miracles of the Messiah that was promised by the Old Testament prophets. If we spend all of our time in the New Testament, we will lack a historical and theological context by which to better understand the redemptive work of Jesus, the promised Messiah. Both Old and New Testaments are inspired by God and point us to Jesus, and so we must strive to understand the Bible as a whole.
If you have trouble remaining faithful to a reading plan, consider starting a plan along with a friend or two. You can encourage one another as you read, and you can discuss what you are reading. Reading the Bible together can be a wonderful opportunity for Christian fellowship and discipleship.
Where Will You Read?
While our circumstances throughout the day are often beyond our control, as we have opportunity we should try to read scripture in a setting that will promote focused concentration. Are you unable to concentrate in a noisy environment? Try to find a quiet place to read. Are you easily distracted by your surroundings? Read in a room or location containing less visual stimuli.
Such practical considerations are easily overlooked, but we must learn to make the most of the time we spend in God’s Word. Do you find it difficult to squeeze in time for Bible reading at all? Then consider listening to the Bible on audio as you commute to and from daily appointments in the car.
When Will You Read?
Again we must acknowledge that our circumstances are often beyond our control, but when possible we should be strategic in our choice as to when to read God’s Word. What is the quietest portion of your day? Early in the morning? Late in the evening? During lunch at work? While the kids are taking their afternoon nap? Such times can be ideal for spending some time with scripture.
Do not underestimate the value of routines and habits when it comes to Bible reading.
Do not underestimate the value of routines and habits when it comes to Bible reading. Small bits of scripture intake add up over time if they occur on a regular basis. A chapter with breakfast, a few verses with lunch, and a chapter or two before bed will eventually bring you through the entire Bible.
As you choose your reading times, you may also benefit from considering your energy levels and attention spans at different times of the day. If you have trouble waking up and thinking straight in the early morning, this might not be the best time to read. If you can’t keep your eyes open for more than five minutes after lying down in bed, this might not be the best time to read. If you have a short attention span in general, consider reading more often for shorter periods of time rather than reading once per day for a longer period of time.
How Will You Read?
Scripture comes in many formats. It can be read from the printed page, from smartphone apps, or from Internet browsers. Each format has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, electronic formats can be easily searched and are often connected to other resources such as online commentaries. In particular, olivetree.com and youversion.com provide free, high-quality Bible reading apps. On the other hand, reading from a smartphone may provide more opportunities for distraction (e.g. checking email, texting, playing games, etc.). Consider which format would best suit your particular circumstances.
Nothing makes your Bible come alive to your soul like praying as you read it.
Listening to scripture via your smartphone or computer is another way to receive God’s Word. Do you have a regular exercise routine? Do you commute to work in your car? Do you have chores to do? These are just a few among many examples of opportunities to listen to scripture. Are you taking advantage of such opportunities?
It is also helpful to consider combining your prayer time and Bible reading. Nothing makes your Bible come alive to your soul like praying as you read it. You become a more active participant, a more attentive student, and a more receptive disciple as you pray over Scripture.
Are You Reading?
As children of God, we want to better know our heavenly Father. Therefore, we must prayerfully and diligently seek a more intimate knowledge of God through a deeper knowledge of his Word. As you seek such knowledge, remember that God’s Word is pure and true (Proverbs 30:5, Psalm 119:160). It can be safely trusted. It provides the guidance we need as we strive to draw near to God through faith in Jesus (Psalm 119:105).
The fact that we have access to God’s Word is an occasion for rejoicing in itself (Psalm 119:162). Are you rejoicing? But access to God’s Word alone does not acquaint us with the contents of Scripture. Are you reading?