I was in my first year of seminary. A friend had arranged for one of the professors to mentor me. In our first meeting, the professor asked me, “What’s your Bible reading routine?”
I told him I didn’t really have one.
I don’t know if I could have shocked the professor more. “You’re in seminary studying to be a pastor, and you don’t have a Bible reading routine?” he exclaimed. “How do you expect to feed others with the Word if you’re not feeding on it yourself?”
It turns out that I was like six out of seven Canadian Christians. According to the Bible Engagement Survey conducted by Bible League Canada, about one in seven Canadian Christians, or 14%, read the Bible at least once a week. The majority of Canadians, including those who identify as Christians, read the Bible seldom or never.
And yet Bible reading remains as the most strategic action we can take to grow spiritually. “There is no more important task in life than hearing from God and trusting him on the basis of his Word,” writes George Guthrie in his new book A Short Guide to Reading the Bible Better. “I mean that quite literally: no more important task. Everything else in our lives is shaped by whether or not we are living out of a life grounded in the Word of God, the Bible. We need to read it and read it better than we ever have before, so that we can live it well.”
Bible reading remains as the most strategic action we can take to grow spiritually.
The most strategic action you can take to grow as a Christian is to encounter and respond to God in his word.
Here are some steps to developing a routine of feasting on the Bible.
First, ask for God’s help. Sometimes we don’t know how God will answer prayer. When it comes to asking for God’s help in encountering him through Scripture, we know how God will answer. He promises that we’ll seek him if we find him (Jeremiah 29:13). The Holy Spirit will help us as we seek God in prayer.
Second, buy a good study Bible. A good study Bible is a worthy investment for every believer, and costs less than a dinner at most restaurants. Most of us will get stuck or confused as we read the Bible. A study Bible can help us understand what we’re reading and get unstuck.
Third, find a plan that works for you. A quick Internet search will reveal all kinds of possibilities. Reagan Rose has compiled a few. It takes only 15 minutes a day to read through the Bible over the course of a year. Pick a plan that looks achievable and fun. We don’t earn any extra points for making things harder and less enjoyable!
Fourth, get help. I’m convinced that one of the reasons we get stuck in reading the Bible is that we try to do it alone. Find someone at church who’s willing to follow the same plan as you, and who can encourage you when you’re tempted to give up.
Finally, experiment and don’t give up. Miss a day? Don’t miss two. Don’t like reading? Try an audio Bible. Find that you run out of time in the morning? Try the evening. Treat everything like an experiment, and find what works.
I never used to have a Bible reading routine. Now I do, and I’m grateful. Reading and responding to Scripture is the most strategic action you can take to grow, along with participating in the life of a church. You will find it challenging sometimes, but it’s more than worth the effort.