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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Why I Read the Bible Every Day

For the past seventeen years, I’ve read at least a chapter of the Bible, and most of the time two or more chapters, every single day. In that time, I’ve been able to read it cover to cover more than a dozen times (I lost count a long time ago). What is so significant about this huge book that would cause me to read it over and over again? Do I think I’m gaining brownie points with God for my dutiful commitment to reading it? Do I think it offers me guidance for my life? Or do I like reading so much that I devour any and every book I can find?

I don't read it for any of these reasons. Reading the Bible doesn't earn me any favor with God. At times, I do find that it offers me guidance for my life, but that’s definitely not one of the top reasons I read it. And although it may seem to others that I like to read, reading is not really one of my hobbies; I’d much rather spend my time doing something active than sitting in a chair reading a book.

So why do I choose to set aside a chunk of time every day to read the Bible? I can think of three main reasons which I'll unpack in this article.

It’s the Word of God

Have you ever thought to yourself or maybe even said out loud, “I wish God would speak to me”? I’ve had those same thoughts many times. Sometimes I wish he’d speak to me like he did to Abraham, Moses, Elijah, or one of the other Old Testament prophets. After all, isn’t God a personal God who desires to have a relationship with us? Yet, my prayer times seemed like nothing more than me doing all the talking and him doing all the listening. I’d even pause sometimes waiting for a response…but I’d hear absolutely nothing.

Although God doesn’t choose to speak to me or you audibly, he has chosen to leave us with everything he wants to communicate to us; he’s given us his Word via the Bible. In order to hear from God, I read the Bible. If I want to hear him audibly, I read it out loud…haha just joking! The Bible is God’s revelation about himself to us, both his character and his actions. Since I love God more than anyone or anything else, I read the Bible in order to get to know who he is and read about some of the ways he’s brought glory to his name throughout history.

It Focuses Me on God and His Glory

Maybe you’re much better at this than I am, but for some reason, I have a really hard time staying focused. I’ll be focused on something and then…SQUIRREL! I get distracted pretty easily. Of course I have a desire to worship God all day, but it doesn’t seem to take much for me to get distracted from that focus. When I first started reading the Bible every day, I would read it at night before I went to bed. In the past year, I’ve changed my reading time to the morning because I’ve noticed that the refocus every morning is much more helpful to my highly distracted mind.

As a normal human who tends to lose my peripheral vision and only see what’s going on in my own little world, the daily refocus on God enables me to recognize the bigger picture of who God is, what he is doing in the world around us, and see that it all serves to bring him glory. I seem to forget that all the time. For some reason, I wake up every morning thinking that my purpose is to bring myself glory. But it’s not. My purpose is to bring God glory. And apparently I need to be reminded of that every day. When I read the Bible, it’s hard to miss this point because it shows up on seemingly every single page. It’s literally everywhere!

It Satisfies My Soul

I’ve written quite a few articles which focus on God satisfying us completely in a way that no one and nothing else can do. Reading the Bible is the primary means through which I get a chance to experience his all-satisfying power.

When I wake up every morning, I’m hungry. So the first thing I do is eat two large bowls of cereal for breakfast. After my stomach is full, I feel ready to go for the day. In the same way, reading the Bible fills up my spiritual stomach every morning. After reading the Bible, I feel refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of the day. As one of the biblical writers once wrote, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”[1]

Strategies to Get You Started

I’ve heard lots of people express an interest in reading the Bible more regularly, but for one reason or another, they don’t do it. Maybe the thought of reading a thousand-page book is too overwhelming. Maybe they don’t know where to start. Maybe they struggle to understand what it’s saying. I can relate with all those struggles because I’ve experienced them too. If you have a desire to read the Bible but feel like one of these barriers is standing in your way, I want to help you overcome that barrier. Therefore, I’m going to address each of these three barriers and provide some strategies for overcoming them.

It’s Overwhelming

Is the thought of reading a thousand-page book overwhelming to you? It can definitely be a daunting task to the person who doesn’t make a hobby out of reading War and Peace or Les Miserables. No one can read the entire Bible in a day. Personally, I find it helpful to break it down into smaller, manageable chunks. For me, these chunks are chapters. If you haven’t regularly read the Bible before, maybe a great place to start would be to read a chapter a day. As you continue reading every day, you may find that after you’ve finished your chapter, you want to keep reading the next chapter and the one after that. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t take that long to read a chapter. Bible chapters don’t take nearly as long to read as chapters in a normal book. It typically only takes me about 5 to 10 minutes to read a Bible chapter. If reading the Bible seems overwhelming, I have two words of encouragement for you. First, break the Bible down into chunks that are manageable for you to tackle rather than trying to do what’s most manageable for your spiritual giant friend who’s been reading the Bible every day for thirty years. Second, read every single day at the same time of the day rather than trying to do it whenever you have free time because more than likely, you’ll find that your free time will get eaten up with other things that seem much more important at the time.

Where to Start

Do you struggle knowing where to start? I’m a fairly logical person, so when I started reading the Bible, the most logical place to start seemed to be the beginning of Genesis and then I continued reading until I reached the end of Revelation. Over the years, I’ve tried different reading orders such as reading the New Testament first and then reading the Old Testament, reading one chapter from each of the Old and New Testament, and reading the Bible in chronological order. All of these variations have worked and have been helpful to my understanding of it, but the simplest solution I’ve found is to read it straight from Genesis to Revelation. Why do I suggest reading the whole Bible and not just the New Testament? Because the whole Bible is important and applicable to our understanding of who God is. There will be parts you won’t understand the first, second, and third time you read them. Even after reading it more than a dozen times, there are still parts I don’t understand. But over time as the Holy Spirit continues to open our spiritual eyes to understanding what’s in there and as we become more familiar with the grand narrative being told throughout the Bible, we’ll began to understand the previously non-understandable parts more and more.

It’s Hard to Understand

Does it seem like the Bible is hard to understand? It is. It’s not always as straightforward as we’d like it to be. Some parts of it are pretty cryptic and other parts are just flat out impossible to understand unless we understand the cultural context behind it. A good place to start might be to read a version of the Bible that’s easier to understand such as the New Living Translation or The Message. My hesitation with these translations is that there’s a lot interpretation done on the part of the translators which may or may not be theologically accurate. However, these translations phrase the wording in such a way that it’s much easier to understand. I’ve read the whole Bible using the New King James Version, The Message, NIV, and ESV, but the version I now read almost solely is the ESV because I think is pretty easy to follow, yet holds fairly true to the original languages and sentence structures used by the biblical writers, leaving less room for interpretation on the part of the translators. Another helpful resource available to us are Bible commentaries. These resources provide a lot of the context behind the writings and connect passages scattered throughout the Bible to one another. The one I would highly recommend is John MacArthur’s commentary. Another one which seems to be pretty theologically sound is the Crossway ESV Study Bible. Whatever resource(s) you decide to use, I would encourage you try one and stick to it for at least a few months. If you’re serious about trying to make sense of it, I’m pretty sure you’ll get a lot out of it.

Do you read the Bible every day? If so, why? If you want to start reading the Bible every day but haven't done it yet, what barriers are standing in your way? I’d love to walk alongside you to overcome these barriers, so feel free to share in the comments section below, on social media, or by dropping me an email. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

[1] Psalm 119:103.

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