There are some things that are common to all people regardless of race, nationality or economic status. There will always be only 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and 7 days in a week. Many times we are so busy with school, work, and sports practices that we would like to get more time out of the day than is available. So with everything pulling for our time in this day in age, not to mention the subtle distractions of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that often snatch away hours of our time without us noticing it, how does one have time to be a daily Bible student?
Many people desire to be daily Bible readers but they say, “How can I read the Bible every day when I am so busy and have so many things to do, and so many demands on my time, and not to mention I have to make time to sleep?” Many people start out in January with a goal of reading through the Bible in a year, or reading the New Testament once a month, only to get to books like Leviticus and give up, or miss a day and be overwhelmed with the impossibility of catching up.
How can we, in this day of technology and round the clock work hours, still be daily Bible readers? The Bible still is all-sufficient and gives mankind all that he needs (2 Tim. 3:16-17), it still lights the path of life (Psalm 119:103-105), and it still will be used to judge mankind on the last day (John 12:48, Rev. 20:12). With all of the benefits associated with daily Bible reading, along with the necessity to be familiar with God’s word in light of the judgment, what are some practical ways that we can become daily Bible readers and maintain this practice as best we can?
If we would become daily Bible readers there must be a priority given to reading the Bible. Just because one desires to read the Bible does not mean that God will miraculously remove all distractions and make life so that nothing interferes with this time I set aside to read the Bible. On the contrary, there will always be distractions to daily Bible reading, but one must make up his or her mind to do this and sanctify (set apart) the time necessary to do so and guard that time (1 Pet. 3:15). There will always be an interesting story in the news that seems too good to pass up, or someone will begin to text you about an all-important issue that is really not too important at all, but you must make daily Bible reading a priority and exalt it on your schedule so that when these distractions come up you can easily deflect these things and maintain your prior commitment.
If necessary, let certain people know, like your spouse, that you have set certain time aside to read the Bible so that he or she can watch the children and you can study, or tell certain friends who seem to always call and text you that you study around this time so that interruptions are not as frequent. The things that we prioritize always get done. The daily Bible reader must, in the first place, set the time aside and prioritize the time to study.
This is often time the most difficult part of being a daily Bible student. Most people want to conquer this 66 book volume in a year, or start with a difficult book like Revelation and be able to regurgitate all of the information contained therein with simplicity. Many times people are discouraged with daily Bible reading because they try to read too much at a time, or they start with things that are difficult to grasp (2 Pet. 3:15-16). My advice to the one who desires to be a daily Bible reader is this: after you have set aside the time and cleared distractions from your schedule, start small as it relates to your reading. Maybe you could start a chapter of Proverbs each day for a month (there are 31 chapters in Proverbs), or you could read a small book like Jonah or Jude each day for a week, you will walk away with more knowledge of these books than you would otherwise.
We need to realize that there is no competition for who can read the most at a time as it relates to Bible study, and while we need to grow to deeper study and being able to consume more of the text, we don’t have to start that way (Heb. 5:12-14, 2 Pet. 3:18). We don’t need to look down on small beginnings (Zech. 4:10) and we need to recognize that if we would ever grow and mature spiritually we need to start somewhere. Try and read books with less than 5 chapters all in one sitting and do so repeatedly for a week or so and try to get a good handle on those things contained in them (e.g. James, Philippians, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John). To be a steadfast daily Bible reader, set time aside and then agree with yourself on a proper portion of reading so you will be able to handle and comprehend what you read.
It’s extremely helpful to have a journal of some sort and a pen in hand to write down your daily findings and questions. This will help you in more ways than you can imagine. By writing down things you have learned in your reading you can track your growth. As you come back to these books at a later date you will see how your knowledge has grown and how you have learned new things. Another important reason to keep a pen handy in daily Bible reading is that, in this day of commentaries, study Bibles, and religious channels (which can sometimes be an aid), it is all too easy to begin to think the thoughts of other men and never truly study the Bible for yourself.
If we are not careful, we will never see Jesus or His word ourselves, but simply think the thoughts that other men feed us; so it is important to write down things we learn. I would also encourage the daily Bible reader to write down how they plan to apply what they have read to their life and then come back later and write whether they have made any progress in this area, this makes Bible study more personal and purposeful. A pen is necessary for daily Bible reading along with the proper portion to be read and the prioritizing of one’s time.
If daily Bible reading is to have any lasting benefit it must be viewed from the proper perspective. This is not check-list Christianity where one can check daily Bible reading off of their list and go on to the better parts of the day. With the proper view of God’s word which was written to give us joy (1 John 1:4), produce belief (John 20:30-31), and help us conduct ourselves properly (1 Tim. 3:15), we can glean the proper message from the text. We need to view this as the best part of our day and look forward to the time when God can speak to us through His word.
We should not view Bible reading as merely an academic pursuit in which we can then show off and prove all of our friends and neighbors wrong in a religious discussion (though this may sometimes occur cf. 1 Pet. 3:15). Bible reading needs to help us to be transformed more into the image of Christ and help us hide His Word in our heart (Psalm 119:9-11, 2 Cor. 3:17-18). Always remind yourself of the reasons why you are reading the Bible, and keep that at the forefront of your mind as you read.
Prayer and Bible reading seem to go hand in hand in my mind. If I would ever know how to properly talk to God (prayer), then I need to allow him to talk to me (Bible Study). As we approach the task of reading the Bible we need to ask the Lord for His help (1 John 5:14). Before reading the Bible, if we pray and thank God for His word it will deepen our appreciation for His word, realizing that we are blessed to have access to it (1 Thess. 5:17-18). Prayer helps encourage me as I read, with the knowledge that I have asked God to strengthen me to continue this pursuit of Him through His word. Don’t neglect prayer as you approach the word of God, and while you shouldn’t be praying for a miraculous illumination of the text as you read (1 Cor. 13:8-11), there are benefits to petitioning God and thanking Him for His word.
To become a better daily Bible student, one must adopt the spirit of perseverance. As stated earlier, obstacles and distractions will come, and guess what? You will probably miss a day or two. Still plunge ahead (Prov. 24:10). There may be days when you walk away not understanding anything that you have read, or that you fall asleep reading due to fatigue, but continue on. The Christian life is often described in terms of a race, but never as a short-term sprint (1 Cor. 9:24-26, Heb. 12:1). You must have the resolve that you simply will not give up on your quest to better know the liberating truth of God’s word (John 8:31-32), come what may.
Reading the Bible every day will not always come easy, even when you do all of the above-suggested steps, but if you persevere you will come out on the winning side more times than not. Christians are admonished continually to endure and to finish. And as it relates to daily Bible reading, these encouragements should be applied (Matt. 10:22, 2 Pet. 3:18).
I have tried in this article to give a few practical tips that can help us to be daily Bible readers. These are not the only tips available to help us be better students of the scriptures, but this is a starting point. Let us all do our best to become daily Bible readers and enjoy the blessings of such an endeavor. May we be described like those Jews in Berea nearly 2,000 years ago who were “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11 ESV).