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A Better Way to Read the Bible in 2022
There are many good ways to read the Bible. The purpose of this article is to explain what I call “A Better Way” to read it.
Please note that I will discuss reading the Bible rather than studying it, meditating on it, or memorizing it (which, of course, are also valuable ways to spend time in the Word).
But first, let’s discuss the issue of whether we really read the Bible. It seems to me that many professing Christians do not read the Bible very well. When they do, it is inconsistent and/or scarce.
By “inconsistency,” I mean it’s not a habit. We don’t read the Bible regularly. We do it from time to time, hit or miss, for no reason. “Maybe I’ll spend time in the Word today, maybe I won’t.”
Such an approach to Scripture shows the attitude that reading the Word is not a priority. “I’m busy. I have a job and a family and things to do. And reading the Bible is not very important to me.”
“I still love God. I always attend worship services and give money and serve the church (in the nursery, or as an usher, or in any number of other important ways). Having ‘devotions’ ‘ is not just something that I see as the need to do.”
By “lack,” I mean it’s for very short periods of time, and it might involve reading a verse from a daily devotional book that follows this format: a verse quoted and then the author gives several paragraphs of explanation and application, with a prayer at the end.
Such devotional books are as popular today as ever. And I do not condemn them. These books contain God’s truth and are written by devoted followers of Christ whose sincere motive is to share God’s Word with God’s people.
I have read and benefited from those books. My wife and I read John Piper’s The Dawn of Immortal Happiness, twenty-five daily readings for advent. It is very good and follows the format described above.
But if this “verse a day” method is only the way we read the Bible, aren’t we lacking ourselves? It sure is better than nothing. But I believe something is missing here, and I hope I can explain why by introducing you to A Better Way to Read the Bible.
To discover a better way to read the Bible, please think of your favorite book (other than the Bible). It can be fiction or non-fiction. It could be a book you’ve read at any point in your life – a childhood treasure or a classic you read for a college literature class. Or maybe it’s a book you read recently. It can be Alice in Wonderland or Grapes of Wrath or Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Now, think for a moment about why you love this book so much. And how much you enjoy reading it and benefit from it — how useful it is.
Pretend you are talking to someone about this book, perhaps a good friend or family member or co-worker. This person has not read the book, although he may have heard of it.
And you want to explain how to read your favorite book. Now notice I didn’t say share Why you really like this book. Let’s assume you’ve already done that. For now, I want you to explain how to read it.
What do you say? Can you say things like this:
1. Don’t start reading the book at the beginning.
2. Don’t read the whole thing.
3. Instead of reading the entire book from cover to cover, for the next 365 days take a random sentence (or at most, a paragraph) from anywhere in the book and just read that.
4. It doesn’t matter what you read each day, or what part of the book you read, just read a small part each day, in no particular order.
5. Not sure where to start? Just pick any page at random and start there. Or, find someone who has read the whole book and have them suggest which 365 sentences (or paragraphs) you should read next year.
6. If you find a particular sentence, paragraph or chapter that you really like, you can read it over and over again.
7. After a while, you may find many sentences, paragraphs and even chapters that you really like – your favorite sections. It’s OK to read parts over and over again, and you don’t have to worry yourself about reading other parts you didn’t read.
What do you think that way?
Or instead, do you say this: “Start at the beginning and read the whole book.”
Obviously, you go to the last comment, right?
A Better Way to Read the Bible is reading the Bible like any other book, because to really understand a book, don’t you have to read the whole thing? And isn’t one of the main goals of reading the Bible is to understand it? So, shouldn’t we read it like any other book?
Do you find the Bible difficult and difficult to understand? Maybe it’s because you haven’t read it as much as you did any other book. You haven’t read it from cover to cover. You haven’t read the whole thing.
This is a Better Way to Read the Bible – read it like any other book.
I wonder what percentage of Christians have done this: read the entire Bible. I don’t know. What do you think?
But it doesn’t matter how many other people did or didn’t do it.
I am concerned about you and me.
Have you read all 66 books of the entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation? If so, great!
If not… what is the reason why? In the next few days, it might be good to meditate on this question, asking God to reveal the answer to you. And if you’re so inclined, send me an email and let me know how that exercise went for you.
Go back to your favorite book… I assume you read the whole thing. How long have you been doing that? And by that, I mean not so much how much time you spent reading, but what period of time you read it? How many days or weeks or months or years did it take you?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say it took you a few weeks or a few months, at most, to read the whole thing.
So when we come to the Bible with this idea we must read it like any other book, shouldn’t we make it a priority to read the entire book in a reasonable amount of time? Of course, the Bible is longer than the average book you check out at the library, much longer. Depending on the font and paper size of your version, the average Bible is over 1,000 pages.
A few years ago I took a translation of the Bible in the public domain (World English Bible) and published a New Testament. Paper size 6 x 9; the font size is 10 or 11 points. And the New Testament alone is 390 pages. Since the New Testament is about 25% of the entire Bible, all 66 books would fill almost 1,600 pages.
When determining a “reasonable” amount of time to read the entire Bible, many have settled on the well-known “read the Bible in a year” period. I think that is a feasible goal, especially if you consider that it works out to about 3 chapters per day, which should take even a slow reader about 20-30 minutes maximum.
Think about that. If you spend 30 minutes a day for 365 days, you can read the entire Bible in one year. How many of us spend at least half an hour each day texting, watching TV, surfing the internet, liking Facebook posts, and any number of other potentially wasteful activities? . (For years, my weakness has been TV, especially sporting events. I wonder what my life would be like today if, in the past 55 years, I had spent as much time reading as I did watching television.)
So reading the entire Bible is not a difficult task at all. And this is how we read almost every other book. Why not approach the Bible the same way?
What do you say? Has anything I’ve written so far resonated with you? I pray that it will happen.
Let me close by telling you about my own experience reading the Bible. When I started reading the Bible in its entirety, my understanding of the Scriptures rose to a new level.
It’s amazing. I could go on and on about this. But it is true. God uses this simple exercise to see the big picture of the Scriptures to give an understanding of the meaning of all the different parts. And there are many parts to the Bible, starting with two main parts: Old Testament and New Testament. In the Old Testament, there are the books of history and the Law of Moses; there are books of wisdom such as Job, Psalms and Proverbs; and there are the prophetic books — the longer ones like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and a bunch of shorter books like Jonah and Micah and Malachi. Then there is the New Testament, with the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles; then come letters written to churches and individuals; and then comes the grand finale of Revelation.
Whew! How do we make sense of all the different authors and genres and famous characters?
We begin by stepping back and realizing that while the Bible is an incredibly diverse collection of 66 books (like a 1,000 page mini-library), and it is also a book with one Author, which is God. Yes, God wrote this book!
And to understand the Bible as a book with one Author, we must read the whole thing over a reasonable period of time. I pray that you will see the value of that today, and that you will experience the joy of reading the entire Bible. May God be with you as you do.
Additionally, many Bible reading plans are available online. It provides a schedule for the year, telling you which books to read in which order, and which chapters to read each day. There are many ways to do this, so take a look at these plans and choose the one you like and give it a try. Just visit your favorite search engine, input “Bible reading plans” and you won’t have a hard time finding many options. Enjoy!
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