By Barry Howard
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 every day.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But developing a daily discipline of Bible reading can be challenging because it requires changing our daily habits. However, you are never too young or too old to start.
In the New Year’s season when folks traditionally make resolutions and establish goals for the coming year, why not resolve to read the Bible every day? Consider some of the advantages. Daily Bible reading increases our knowledge of God’s Word. It gives us a more intimate and personal acquaintance with the biblical text. It helps us to discern God’s plan for us. It encourages us to integrate the teachings of the Bible into our daily lifestyle. It confronts our personal sin and affirms God’s forgiveness. It inspires us toward faithfulness and consistency in all of our tasks.
Reading the Bible daily also helps us 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 to 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. In addition, there are other sites to which you can subscribe that will send daily devotional readings directly to your e-mail 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 31 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. If you really want to live by the book, resolve to spend quality time reading the Good Book daily in 2011.