With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes.” – Psalm 119:10-12
Books on the shelf
When I was a young boy I discovered that I had been given a special presentation Bible at my christening, as a baby. I still have it. It is a beautiful leather bound Bible, with a special cover, my initials embossed on it and gold-lined pages. It is a work of art. But it also felt too precious to actually read! And so I didn’t.
And then when I was at elementary school we had a visit from the Gideon Bible Society. Each one of us was given our very own pocket sized Gideon’s Bible (actually Psalms and New Testament). I felt quite grown up having my own Bible. But I didn’t read that either and it stayed on my bookshelf.
And finally, when I was at Middle School, I had another Bible for my Religious Studies class. During our study on Christianity we read from the bit about Jesus being crucified and then resurrected. That was pretty much it for me. Like the others, that Bible stayed on my bookshelf too after that.
It wasn’t until High School that I started asking some deeper questions about my life. Did I have a purpose? What was the point of life? Could God be real? It was at this point that I picked up my pocket Gideon Bible. At the front it helpfully had a reference index of scripture verses that spoke about different topics, like ‘joy’, ‘anger’, ‘loneliness’. It seemed to be showing me that the Bible had something to say in response to the questions that people often ask themselves. Several months later, after a close friend helped me wrestle with some of these questions, I gave my life to Jesus and committed to live my life for him. I bought a ‘readable’ Bible and some Bible reading notes so I could start reading each day.
The truth will set you free
What’s the point? Well, reading the Bible is a necessary part of growing in our relationship with God and godly character. It wasn’t until I started to seek the truth about what God had to say that I came to know Who He is and why He was so worthy of committing my life to Him.
Many Christians know that reading the Bible is important for their growth and spiritual health, and they even want to read their Bible, but for whatever reason they just don’t. For some, it’s just not knowing where to begin. It’s my goal to offer some basic tools to helping each of us to grow in the Word and as the Psalmist says,
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits on the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his instruction he meditates day and night.” – Psalm 1:1-2
So, how do we start, to make reading our Bible a regular habit and a vital part of our Christian life? Here are 4 tips that have helped me over the years:
1) Follow a reading plan that goes through the Bible in a year or two.
I have used books, bookmarks, websites, apps and email alerts! There are also many free resources online. YouVersion, Bible Gateway, just to name a few, are all good places to start. Each day I read a couple of Psalms, an OT passage, a NT passage and a Gospel reading. Other times I just choose a book of the Bible to read and study and spend several days or weeks just re-reading it and meditating on it. Whatever you choose, make a plan and start reading.
2) Set aside a little bit of time every day to read.
Everyone is different. Some people like reading early in their morning. Others, late at night. Perhaps you would rather listen to an audio Bible on your commute to work. No need to read the whole Bible in a day; you just need to develop a habit of reading it regularly and listening to what God would say to you through it.
3) To prevent Bible reading from just becoming another task in your day, let the Scriptures inform your prayer time.
One way that I learned to do this was to use my daily Psalm reading as my guide for prayer. I would read the Psalm through and then read it again a line at a time and then respond in prayer to each line. Another way is to keep a journal of how you think God is speaking to you through your Bible reading and then pray into what He is saying.
4) Read the Bible with other Christians and listen to how they hear it speak to them.
We must never forget that we have our own filters and lenses through which we see the world and hear God speak to us. The Bible says that, “iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27: 17). Our friends can encourage us in our reading of the Bible and they have insights into what the Lord is saying that we can grow from hearing.
It takes about 40 days to create a new habit. Let’s commit to give a few minutes every day for the next six weeks to reading the Scriptures and allow God to transform our lives as He speaks to each of us.