Often I am asked, “What can I do to grow as a Christian?” There are several things that may help you grow in your faith but one of the most important things is to read the Bible everyday.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? But developing a daily discipline of reading the Bible can be challenging because it requires changing our daily habits. However, you are never too young or too old to start.
Over the past couple of years, I have worked on a study team of pastors and scholars who have been investigating the impact of “The Bible and Your Life.” Responses to our survey indicate that reading the Bible privately once a week or more is the “game-changer” in putting faith into practice. Those who read the Bible privately on a regular basis are much more likely to look to the Bible for guidance in making life decisions than those who read the Bible seldom or never.
In analyzing the responses to our survey which indicate a strong correspondence between Bible reading and faith application, Dr. Penny Marler, professor of sociology at Samford University, surmises that, “In a world that presents us with many options and distractions, what we choose to spend our time doing says a great deal about what is important to us and the more we engage in a particular behavior, the more important it becomes.”
Consider some of the advantages of reading the Bible daily. Daily Bible reading increases our knowledge of God’s word. Regular Bible reading gives us a more intimate and personal acquaintance with the biblical text. It helps us to discern God’s plan for us. This daily discipline encourages us to integrate the teachings of the Bible into our daily lifestyle. Daily Bible reading confronts our personal sin and affirms God’s forgiveness. This practice inspires us toward faithfulness and consistency in all of our tasks. Reading the Bible daily helps us to understand the contextual meaning of passages whereas those who read the Bible only occasionally or who read only a selected verse or two are more likely to superimpose their own presuppositions on the text. And finally, daily Bible reading helps keep your life and faith in focus.
Years ago, Lord Tennyson wrote, “Bible reading is an education in itself.” Here are some helpful strategies to develop a daily Bible reading plan:
* Begin by using a companion devotional guide. Our Daily Bread, Open Windows, and the Upper Room are just a few examples of devotional booklets that include both a daily Bible reading selection and a few inspirational comments and stories. There are also a growing number of online devotional sites, such as www.d365.org, that provide relevant daily devotionals, and other sites that you can subscribe to that will send daily devotional readings directly to your inbox.
* Try reading the Bible book by book. Some suggest alternating your reading between New Testament and Old Testament books.
* Read a chapter a day from the New Testament and the Old Testament plus a Psalm and one chapter of Proverbs. This approach provides a balanced diet of biblical perspectives. And because Proverbs is divided into thirty-one chapters, it makes for good systematic reading because of its compatibility with our monthly calendar.
* Read the Bible in one year. Many Christian publishing companies offer printed schedules for reading the Bible through in one year. The assignments for daily reading may prove challenging to slower readers but the rewards of knowledge and inspiration are definitely worth the challenge.
If you want to grow in your faith there are many practices that will enhance your spiritual maturity: daily prayer, regular worship participation, ethical decision-making, and ministry involvement. But one of the best places to begin your journey of spiritual growth if you are a new Christian, or to deepen your faith if you are a maturing Christian, is to develop the discipline of reading the Bible daily.
In extolling the significance of Bible reading, Billy Graham proposes that, “The word of God hidden in the heart is a stubborn voice to suppress.” If you really want to put faith into practice, resolve to spend quality time reading the book every day.