Reading Lots of Scripture
A few days ago I finished reading the Bible, for the 7th time this year. Now, I want to make sure at the outset that this is not some super-spiritual feat. It was a matter of calling and discipline. We need to read more Scripture. We have way too many Christians, some in leadership, who have next to no idea what the Bible says. To take a hot-button issue: the number of people who have no clue what the Bible says about homosexuality is amazing. I have had life-long Christians tell me they were shocked to find out the Bible said anything about it at all. I find this more troubling than the people who know, but reject what the Bible teaches.
So we need to read a lot of Scripture.
I want to be clear that I am not saying you should stop reading the Bible devotionally. Nor am I saying that the plan to read 3 chapters a day is wrong. Those are fine and necessary things. But so is reading the whole Bible, in a way that allows you to really get to know it.
The Bible has 1,189 chapters. If you read 3 chapters a day, you will finish in 397 days. It would be awesome to finish. But such a pace is not so much meant to read the Bible as to stay engaged with it year round. Which is awesome. But what if you read your favorite thriller or mystery novel at the same pace? You would forget the characters and the action. It would not make much sense and would not be any fun. No, we read such books quickly.
But what about reading the Bible slowly for comprehension, to really let it sink in? Yes, you should do that. But a key part of comprehension is going to be familiarity with the whole. There is a place, an important place, for reading mass amounts of Scripture.
I have settled into a pace of 20 chapters a day. I settled on that largely because that was the pace John Wesley’s maternal grandfather, Rev. Samuel Annesley, kept up for more than 60 years. He was known as “the friend of the poor and the sinner.” I would love for that to be on my tombstone. I think it was said of him because he allowed the Scripture to form him in deep ways through long-term, constant contact. I am a fast reader, around 400 words a minute, so do not feel like you have to do what I do or others do. Find your pace!
The simple fact of the matter is, it is not about how many chapters you read. It is more about how much time you spend reading. So, get rid of the Study Bible for this. You need one with no notes. You are not studying, you are not going off on rabbit trails. You are just reading. I would suggest you aim for 20 minutes every day, and build that up until you are at least 30 minutes. If you stick with this you will be amazed at how your retention and comprehension soars.
If you read 20 chapters a day, you will finish in 2 months.
15 chapters, 3 months.
10 chapters, 4 months. You will be shocked how easy it is to read 10 chapters a day!
Here is the warning: don’t read just to finish. Don’t read just to get more information. You know my saying, “we have been educated past our level of obedience. We know more Scripture than we are able to obey, than we are willing to obey.” So as we read, we listen for where God is asking us to focus. Often a verse really sticks out at you. That’s where you spend some time in study and prayer. Ask two simple questions: “What is God saying to me?” And “How what am I going to do about it?” which is to say, how will I obey it?