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Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked ...
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2 ESV)
Is the habit of daily (or even regular) Bible reading a dying art? Many of us have a sense that this may well be the case, even amongst those who would claim the name ‘evangelical’—perhaps from our own personal experience as much as anything else.
Yet most Christians would agree that for the sake of the health of our soul we should be reading God’s Word regularly—if not every day. The frequent biblical image of the Word of God as our ‘food’ or ‘milk’ reminds us of the need to seek ‘nutrition’ from it regularly.
No doubt the pace of modern life has sucked us in and affected our priorities in unhelpful ways, and we need to pause and recalibrate our lives and time. But having done so, what practical steps can we take to start back on the path of regular Bible reading?
Below are some ideas to help you get started along the way and to find some Matthias Media resources to help. You might also find some help in our Reading the Bible MiniZine.
As good as it can be to meet with others, there is a very important place for meeting just one-on-one with God. Many Christians have found great joy in reading the Bible regularly for themselves.
The best way to do it is to set aside a time each day when you free yourself from other distractions to read God’s word (about 20 minutes a day would be good). It's often good to make this a set time of the day, or even to tie it to other things in life (e.g. read it over breakfast or last thing before you go to bed at night). This will help you to remember to keep reading the Bible regularly.
What do you do when you read it? Pray first and ask God to help you read it—after all he has given you his Spirit to teach you and work in you and change you. Read a manageable section (usually about a chapter or so). Then spend some time thinking about the section. There are a number of ways to go about this. One is to ask a few basic questions:
1. What does the passage teach me about God?
2. What does the passage teach me about myself and the world?
3. How should I respond to this passage?
Another way is to use prepared Bible reading notes, such as the Daily Reading Bible booklets.
Don’t worry too much about getting it wrong. Just work at listening to what the Bible is actually saying to you, and over time the Spirit will help you to understand more of what God has to say in his word. The important thing is to read carefully and then seek to obey what you read.
If you're in a home group, or you could invite a few friends to meet together for six weekly meetings, you could all benefit from doing the Six Steps to Reading Your Bible course. This easy to run, DVD-based course will give you important principles and practical skills in the how and why of reading the Scriptures. It'll also help you get started in turning reading the Bible into a regular habit. If you can't put a group together, there's no reason why you can't do the course on your own. We know one father who did it in a group of two: himself and his 14 year old son.
Reading the Bible one to one
As the famous proverb says, “two are better than one … for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow” (Eccl 4:9-12). Bible partnerships, where two Christians covenant to help each other and so meet regularly to read the Bible together and pray, are a very effective means of regularly encouraging each other. You can read more about this model of encouragement ministry in One-to-One Bible Reading: a simple guide for every Christian by David Helm.
Reading the Bible with a group
Surprisingly, there are still many Christians who are yet to discover the benefits of being part of a home Bible study group. Knowing you have a weekly meeting to study a part of God’s word can be a real spur to deeper study and reflection. The key is preparation: making sure that you prepare for the study by reading the passage in advance and thinking about the questions. If you do that, it means that at least two out of seven days that week you will be reading God’s word. And that’s a good start!
Matthias Media’s range of Interactive Bible Studies and Pathway Bible Guides are both ideal for these home groups—although they can work just as well as an in-depth study of God’s word on your own or with one other person.
You might also consider running the Six Steps to Reading Your Bible course in your group.