“If someone who wasn’t a Christian asked you, ‘Why do you read the Bible so much?’ what would you say?”
This was the question I asked Sean, a friend in his mid-sixties who came over for dinner the other night with his wife Jill.
The simplicity and beauty of Sean’s answer surprised me. He said, “I worship a God I can’t see, touch, or smell. The closest I can get to him– with the possible exception of communion– is through his word.”
How simple! In the absence of sight, touch, and smell, we can still hear God.1
How beautiful! Sean reads his Bible to “get” God. To be with him. To draw close to him.2
Sean continued, “I read Scripture almost every day. When I miss a day, I don’t feel shame. I feel hungry, malnourished. The Bible is my bread. It’s my food.”
Sean’s right. At the end of the day, a Christian doesn’t read and meditate on Scripture to feel good about a spiritual discipline, but to feed on God’s grace. She reads to nourish her soul. To preserve her life. To commune with her God.
As Jesus said, quoting Scripture: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”3
Maybe you’re already convinced of your need to read Scripture. Your main concern is not why to read the Bible but how to read the Bible. Try as you may, you find the habit of regular Bible reading difficult to start or to maintain.
Allow me to make six practical suggestions:
- Pray. Ask the Lord to speak to you in and through his word. If your mind wanders when you read, ask the Spirit to give you focus. If you lack the desire to read, ask your Heavenly Father to give you the desire. One of my most frequent prayers is, “Lord I want to want to read your word. Please give me that desire.” I have found this to be a prayer the Lord loves to answer.
- Scripture before phone. When you reach for your Bible before your phone, you train yourself to see the world and your life through the lens of God’s promises rather than the lens of school, work, news headlines, or the photoshopped lives of others.
- Get a good night’s sleep. I once heard a well-known pastor tell a conference crowd, “Pray that I would get to bed early tonight. If I don’t, I won’t read my Bible and pray in the morning.” This minister knew that the battle for the morning’s Scripture reading begins the night before.
- Make use of helpful resources. Three of my favorites are The ESV Study Bible (the study notes give important background information and help explain hard to understand passages, and the online and app versions have a number of really good Bible reading plans), Bible Project (their outline videos for each book of the Bible are a wonderful free resource), and The Daily Prayer Project (their helpful guides remind us that prayer and Scripture reading are vital parts of our daily worship and spiritual formation).
- Find a buddy. Consider asking a roommate, friend, or family member to read Scripture out loud together on a regular basis.
- Start small. The Bible is a huge book! It’s okay to start small. Begin by reading a Psalm or chapter out of Proverbs or a Gospel a day and build from there.
May the Lord bless you and meet with you as you read and meditate on his word!
1 cf. Romans 10:14-17
2 One could argue– as others have– that a good theme verse for the entire Bible is Jeremiah 31:33, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Regular Scripture reading and meditation buries this simple and beautiful truth deep inside our innermost beings and helps us apply it to our daily lives.
3 Matthew 4:4; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3