In the 2006 National Church Life Survey, which surveyed 500,000 Australians from 22 denominations:
21 per cent claimed they read their Bibles daily.
14 per cent claimed they read it a few times a week.
24 per cent said they read the Bible occasionally.
18 per cent said they read the Bible rarely.
17 per cent never read the Bible on their own.
The most diligent Bible readers, according to the survey? Pentecostals. Baptists also rated high, with 62 per cent claiming to read the Bible daily or a few times a week.
So there are more than a few Christians who struggle to open their own Bibles. The Bible is like Metamucil to them. They know it’s healthful but it’s distasteful, due to a hardened heart, or the distractions of this world, or an aversion to reading (i.e. learning difficulties). Others read their Bibles minimally while reading more from Christian books. The Scriptures are their cereal. Then there are those who truly enjoy spending time in the Word. The Bible provides them with rich nourishment, like strawberries and cream for their souls. Their eyes light up when they learn and they keep coming back for more.
If you want to grow in loving and learning the Word, start by recalling its benefits. In the Old Testament, God required the king of Israel to write out his own copy of the Law (as approved by the priests) and to read it “all the days of his life,” for these reasons:
– “that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them,
– that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers,
– that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left,
– so that he may continue long in his kingdom…” *
When you read and respond to the Bible, you benefit in similar ways today: you grow in the fear of the Lord, you learn humility, you grow in faithfulness, and you live in security. But those blessings spring from reading your Bible — no Bible, no benefit.
A personal Bible reading method which has helped me
1. Pray first!
– Ask God to help you understand as you read; ask Him to bless you with what you learn from His Word today. He promises you: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
2. As you read, ask:
– What is God teaching about Himself? About humanity? About the passage topic?
– Is God commanding me to do (or not do) something?
– Is God promising something to me?
– Is God warning me about something or someone?
3. Meditate (think over) what you learned.
– Take time to thank God for what you learned and ask Him to help you remember it throughout today.
– Remind yourself: “What did God teach me today?” Take a minute to think about it, and you may be amazed to find how that Word applies to your current context (i.e. work, home, relationships, mood).
Sometimes you may struggle to make a connection with what you read, but if you keep following this method prayerfully and sincerely, by grace you will become both satisfied and wanting more. Like strawberries and cream.
* Deuteronomy 17:18-20