We’re inundated with information: blog posts, social media updates, emails, and more. It’s no surprise, then, that many of us struggle to read books. Nor is it a surprise that one of those books, the Bible, is going unread even by Christians who claim to live by the truth of its content.
Ask one hundred church members if they have read the Bible today, and eighty-four of them will say no. Ask them if they have read the Bible at least once in the past week, and sixty-eight of them will say no. Even more disconcerting, ask those one hundred church members if reading or studying the Bible has made any significant difference in the way they live their lives. Only thirty-seven out of one hundred will say yes.
Many of us aren’t reading the Bible. The solution, though, isn’t to feel guilty or to beat ourselves up. Instead, the solution is to understand why reading and listening the Bible is important, and to take positive steps to build new habits that help us to absorb it on a regular basis.
Why It's Important
Before we can build the habit, it’s important to understand why it’s important.
According to Daniel Im, author of No Silver Bullets, some behaviors matter more than others when it comes to growth. A few vital behaviors yield a disproportionate influence toward maturity in Christ. “When it comes to reading the Bible, hands down, this is the input goal that has a direct impact on the total score of all the output goals,” he writes. No other behavior has such a significant impact on spiritual maturity.
What’s interesting is that the question measured reading the Bible, not studying or memorizing it. The simple act of reading the Bible regularly can make a big difference in your life.
The more that people read the Bible, “the better they are going to be able to obey God and deny self, serve God and others, share Christ, exercise their faith, seek God, build relationships, and be unashamed about their faith.”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Bible repeatedly emphasizes the importance of God’s Word for our lives. We can keep our hearts pure and guard them with God’s Word (Psalm 119:9). God’s Word is as necessary as food (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). It is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). It is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Before we can build a habit of reading or listening to the Bible, we must understand why it’s important. According to studies and the Bible itself, reading and listening to the Bible is essential for all of us.
Building the Habit
Follow these suggestions to build your own Bible reading habit.
- Understand why it’s important. Spends some time thinking about why reading or listening to the Bible is important for you.
- Know yourself. Are you a morning person or a night person? Do you like reading or do you prefer listening to audiobooks? What would best fit in your schedule? Spend some time thinking about what works best for you.
- Experiment with formats. Try something new. Choose from an audio Bible, a good study Bible, a reader’s Bible (with no chapters or verses), or an app. If you’ve found yourself stuck before, try something new.
- Find a plan. The plan can be a one-year or two-year reading plan. It can include video introductions, like The Bible Project. Or it can be just as simple as picking up where you ended yesterday. Make sure the plan is simple and achievable.
- Shrink the challenge. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s better to read or listen to a small amount regularly than a large amount occasionally. Start small, and add to your habit as you gain confidence.
- Celebrate. Celebrate your progress.
The goal, of course, isn’t just that we read or listen to the Bible. Our goal is that we encounter God. As you read and listen, ask for God’s help so that you get to know him better.
We need God’s Word. Let’s read and listen so that we get to know God better through what he’s written.