January 18, 2019
In a wedding that I recently attended, I heard one of my most favorite descriptions of the Bible. The pastor said the Bible was “written” in the mind and heart of God before it was given to the hands of men. I like this because it speaks of the Bible’s divine origin. This is not something that man invented nor is it a product of an accident.
The Bible is filled with so many life-giving words, and the act of reading gives us an opportunity to experience this every single day.
Not just some days; every day.
Amid the distractions brought by social media and the different demands of life, how can we get the most out of our Bible reading?
Praying for an open heart is a good place to start.
It may be common sense to pray before we read God’s Word, but it’s not common for us to humble ourselves before God, acknowledging that we cannot understand His Word by our own intellect.
The Bible is not a collection of random philosophies and ideas. It is a spiritual book. One cannot understand God’s Word by merely relying on human intelligence. In humility, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth as we read His Word.
I used to take pride in reading numerous chapters of the Bible in a day or finishing a whole book in one sitting. Little did I know that these habits were motivated by the desire to perform—more of a duty than a delight.
Nothing’s wrong with reading many chapters of the Bible in a day. That’s good! What’s wrong is when you have read your desired number of chapters in a day and not hear the voice of God that day.
I asked a Bible teacher how I can go deeper in my relationship with God. I was surprised by the simplicity of his answer:
“You have to be clear about your purpose in reading the Bible. Is this for devotion or study?”
That was very helpful for me. In fact, it freed me from the self-inflicted burden of meeting my own standards in Bible reading.
Clarify your purpose whenever you read the Bible. If it’s for study, then dedicate time for it. But if it’s for daily devotion, don’t put a burden on yourself when you’re not able to check that Bible reading plan for the day.
Bible-reading plans are helpful. I encourage you to have one. But don’t let your inability to meet the Bible-reading plan hinder you from encountering God.
Now, before we get too technical about how long our Bible reading should be, let’s ask ourselves:
Considering the time I spend in meeting the demands of the world, do I have enough time to get my strength from the Word?
Instead of looking for rules, look at your relationship with God and ask yourself, “How much daily intake of God’s Word do I need to grow in my relationship with Him?”
One of the questions I asked myself when I was still a young Christian was: How do I meditate on God’s Word? I know how reading the Bible looks like, but what does it mean to meditate on God’s Word?
Joshua 1:8 says to meditate on it day and night. Pondering about God’s Word doesn’t end the moment you say “Amen.” Our meditation becomes an act of intimacy when it’s our first and last act that every day.
Eastern meditation suggests the emptying of one’s self. But as Christians, we fill our minds with God’s Word.
Filling our minds with God’s Word does not only mean memorizing it, but also thinking about it and living out its truth all day, every day.
I remember a question from the iconic Holy Club*:
“Did the Bible live in me today?”
When God’s Word enters our hearts and minds, we cannot help but respond in obedience. This is because God’s Word is living and active, it will pierce through our hearts—even wounding our souls for the sake of healing it.
A person who reads the Bible merely for head knowledge will not experience genuine transformation. He is the person that James describes in his letter (James 1:22–24):
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
We need to remember that God’s goal for us as we read His Word is not to make us self-righteous, but to make us Christlike.
Every word of God applied in our lives leads to more of Christ in our lives.
There are numerous opportunities to apply God’s Word in our lives, but to make it simple, let’s find out how from Jesus Himself (Matthew 22:37–39):
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The application of God’s Word is best seen in how we love Him and others. We must always ask: How can this truth lead me to love God and love others better?
You can start with your family. Then your friends. Then to those you have difficulty relating with.
The next thing you know, you’ll be amazed by how much reading God’s Word has changed you.
1. What are your current challenges in your Bible reading?
2. How can you have a more enjoyable time meditating on God’s Word?
3. What wrong mindsets about Bible reading keep you from enjoying it?
*The Holy Club was the moniker for a group of students from Oxford University, led by Charles and John Wesley in 1729, whose devotions were very methodical.