Followers of Christ understand the significance of reading the Word of God. As a spiritual discipline, Bible reading helps us to know God, equips us to live in this world, and changes us as God has commanded into the image of His dear Son (1 John 2:6).
However, we learned quickly that the Bible is not just any old book. The Bible was written by 40 different authors over a span of approximately 1,500 years. The Bible includes history, stories, poetry, prophecy, letters, and other types of writings, which can be found in other types of books. But the uniqueness of the Bible rests on the truth that it was inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16), making it a living Book.
Because the Word of God is vibrantly alive, it is endued with the power of life and the power of transformation. This amazing and miraculous truth is the reason Bible reading is a spiritual discipline that should be practiced every day. To make this discipline effective, consider these guidelines.
Begin by making the decision to read the Bible for no other reason but to know God. When reading and studying the words of God we can’t help but to learn about Him, what He loves, things He disapproves of, and His ways. Once you make this decision, determine where you will study and the schedule that works for you. Promise God that you will meet Him at the designated time and place every day. Make sure you gather all the tools needed to study, including of course, your Bible, a notebook, and a way to access biblical resources, such as a commentary, concordance, Bible dictionary, and so forth. These resources are available online or through various apps.
Don’t Complicate Bible Study.
Even though casually reading the Bible works for many, the best practice for simple, yet successful, Bible reading is to use a plan. Consider these ideas to get started:
- Read a book at a time
- Read the Gospels or the Epistles
- Read a chapter from Proverbs each day
- Read the entire Bible chronologically
- Follow an online Bible reading plan
There are many more Bible reading strategies available online. Choose one or a combination that works for you to guide your Bible reading. Once you choose a plan, turn your Bible reading into a time of deep study. Use biblical resources to look up words, people, and places and to understand the context of the Bible text.
One More Reason
As mentioned above the results of practicing Bible reading is that we will grow close to God, be equipped to live in this world, and be transformed to be like Christ. But the writer of Psalm 1 adds another element. He helps us to understand that a follower of Christ will be like a tree who obeys God and refuses to listen to and follow the wicked. This means God wants us to stand strong when faced with life’s temptations and traumas. We cannot do that unless we are reading His Word. Bible reading shores up our spirits, minds, and hearts for the day-to-day battles of life. We will stand strong like a tree whose roots are planted deeply in the truths of God’s Word. That’s real power for living.
Here are other things to consider as you practice the spiritual discipline of Bible reading:
1. Read with Your Heart.
Even though prayer is a separate spiritual discipline on its own, begin your Bible reading time by talking to God. Become aware His presence and be mindful that through the Holy Spirit, God will be your Guide as you study, just as Jesus promised (John 14:17). Remember too that you are reading words spoken by God directly to you. Therefore, it makes sense not to rush and to read thoughtfully. Stop reading when something touches your heart and let God minister as you mull over what you are reading. God is speaking words of love for your good and edification. Open your heart and listen with deep gratitude.
2. Study to Learn.
Learning has many great benefits for people, especially for our minds. Today’s fitness-conscious culture promotes lifelong learning as a means for keeping our brains healthy. But reading God’s Word goes beyond benefiting the mind; it benefits the totality of who we are. Paul tells us that when we renew our minds by learning God’s Word, our lives will be transformed (Romans 12:2). Bible reading causes learning to take place so we can think differently than the world from which we have come and so that our whole lives will be devoted to living by and doing the will of God.
3. Study to Grow.
You may be surprised to hear this, but transformation doesn’t just happen. Think of the believers who listen to sermons and attend Bible study week-after-week for years with very little change to their lives. Bad attitudes, sinful lifestyles, ungodly language remains the same. Spiritual growth is minuscule. To grow we must take the spiritual discipline of Bible reading seriously and read with high expectations that something good will take place. The writer of Hebrews called this faith (Hebrews 11:6). Be mindful that this is a cooperation with God, through His Holy Spirit. He will be there with you when you read His Word, revealing His truths and commands for your life. Then, it will be your turn: apply those truths to your life by praying about them, remembering them, writing them down, thinking about them, memorizing them, and meditating on them so they can take root in your heart and your life. The fruit of your Bible reading will be evident to you and others.
Practicing the spiritual discipline of Bible reading every day may be difficult at first. But you can do it. As you practice this disciple you will become aware of the change that can only come through immersing yourself into God’s Word.