We all know we should read the Bible every day. As people of faith following Christ, the Author of the Bible, we want to enjoy it. Truth be told, though, we often find ourselves staring blankly at the pages as the words blur before us. Often we walk away from our “quiet time” feeling there was way too much quiet and not much to look forward to next time. If there is a next time.
Sometimes the problem is in our own hearts. We hold on to sin in our heart’s blind spot that keeps us from relationship with our Redeemer. But more often, in my experience counseling countless believers of all ages and examining my own heart, the problem is one of logistics. We just don’t know how to read it. Because we aim at nothing, we do a pretty good job of hitting it — again and again. And we don’t enjoy it.
Over the years, I’ve distilled a few tips into a simple acrostic that’s easy to remember. It also givesa flexible framework to tweak and adjust as needed so I can enjoy reading the Bible every day. If you’ve got a better system, by all means, stick with it. But if you or someone you know could use a simple plan to read the Bible each day, try this:
P R A Y
Pray. I first step back from life’s many petty distractions and focus on seeing me as God sees me. I suggest thinking for a few minutes about the vastness of God’s power in nature or the reality of His holiness. I then move to a confession of my own failures – which He knows already anyways. Confession quickly moves me to the cross, recalling the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. I finishby recalling His glorious resurrection, saving grace, and the coming eternal glory ahead. In just a few quiet minutes of reflection, my busy, self-centered thoughts begin to get more aligned with God’s thoughts.
The other reason I begin with prayer is that I have no hope of truly understanding the wisdom of the Bible unless the giver of all Wisdom reveals it to me. In my natural state, I cannot understand the things of God, so I desperately need the Spirit to open the eyes of my heart, a prayer I offer every time I open the Word of God. Apart from His supernatural illumination, there’s simply no way I could enjoy it.
Read. This point is rather obvious, but there’s much that could be said about it. Scripture is curiously silent about the casual reading of the Bible. However, it speaks much about careful study and meditation on it.
- Choose a passage, likely in keeping with a pre-determined plan.
- Have a notepad or other device handy to record your questions, comments, or topics for further study. I’ve taken to using Evernote via my iPhone but there are plenty of options. The key is to keep them organized for easy follow-up.
- I suggest using the many technological tools available to us today for deeper Bible study to explore the meaning of the sacred texts. There’s a reason the Apostle Paul said to “study to show yourself approved unto God.” (2 Tim. 2:15) Now its never been easier. Note: Although you won’t always have time for careful study each day, you should schedule it into your week on a regular basis.
Analyze. Call it the right-brained-lover in me that likes that word. Think would apply just as well. After reading the passage(s) be sure you have time to think. I find it helpful to note the key passages that resonate with me most as I read. I’ll then revisit them in the context of the text, and intentionally ponder their meaning. I often identify a key verse or phrase that sticks for that day and jot it on a Post-it. I then post the Post-it in my Planner Pad page for the week where I will see it throughout the day. The next day, I remove the old note and replace it with a fresh one. In this way, I extend the mediation process throughout the day.
You. I know. You doesn’t fit the parallel use of verbs in my acrostic. But that’s kind of the point. I am not a verb, but a noun. The final point of the acrostic reminds me that the Word of God was given to transform my heart. So I finish each session by asking how the truths uncovered impact me? What sins or concerns has it revealed? What encouragement has it brought to my soul? What change is required in my attitude, behavior, or relationships? What wisdom can I glean from the time spent in the Bible that day? If I can’t think of anything, why not?
Journaling might be helpful to some here. I must apply the truths I encounter:
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 observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. (James 1:22-24)
Don’t be that guy.
If you reach the end of your time engaging Scripture and still don’t have anything to show for it, note that the PRAY acrostic itself screams the essential context in which reading the Bible every day should take place. Go back to the first step. It’s kind of like shampoo.
Pray. Read. Repeat.
You will only enjoy it if it happens habitually in a relationship with God. Thus a humble attitude of prayer sets the tone for the entire time spent in His Word. By following this simple, flexible framework for how to read, you’ll be spending intentional time in the Bible every day and, by His grace, you’ll soon enjoy every minute of it.
What ways have you found to keep yourself regularly reading the Bible? Share your strategies with a comment to help others.