Do you have the time to read the most important book ever?
As far as I can tell, we all are in the same boat: we all have just 24 hours in a day to do stuff. Subtract 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for work, and an hour or two for eating, and that still leaves 6-7 hours to do, well, whatever you want. The question, how are you spending that time?
In particular, if you are a Christian, what do you devote your spare time to? What is your leisure time occupied with? I would hope that things like Bible reading and prayer are an important part of your daily free time. If not, why not? What else are you spending your time on that is so important?
As to Bible reading, there are a million things one can say about it. One can speak about how we read it, what we do in terms of study, and so on. But the main thing I want to emphasise at the outset is that if you are a Christian, you should be reading it! That is paramount. Just do it!
It may seem odd that I should have to say that, but it is a sad fact – and also quite odd – that plenty of Christians do NOT read their Bibles. What should be a matter of our daily bread is for far too many Christians just an occasional meal or snack – maybe once a week or once a month.
That should not be. We should be reading the Word of God every single day. It is our spiritual nourishment which we desperately need. Most Christians would never consider going a day without eating physical food. So why do so many go for days and weeks without eating spiritual food?
Given that it does not take long to read a few chapters a day of soul-sustaining and life-giving Scripture, why are we not doing this? Why does the Bible rank so very low in our priorities? Why is the Bible not our go-too book on a regular basis?
As I have said so often, we should all aim to read the Bible through at least once a year. And to do that, we only need to read around three and a half chapters a day. That way, if you start with Genesis 1 on January 1, you will end up at Revelation 22 on December 31.
And this is not a big ask. Reading three or four chapters of the Bible each day should take no more than 10-15 minutes or so of your time. Christian, do you not have 15 minutes a day? Are you so busy that daily Scripture reading is just too much for you? If so, you may need to check on your priorities, and consider rescheduling your daily affairs.
Concerning Bible reading and any available time we might have to do it, I just came upon an interesting post on the social media. It listed all 66 books of the Bible and then mentioned how long it would take to read each one. As to the Old Testament, the Pentateuch looks like this:
Genesis – 3.5 hours
Exodus – 3 hours
Leviticus – 2 hours
Numbers – 3 hours
Deuteronomy – 2.5 hours
The longest OT book in terms of reading time is the Psalms – you will need 5 hours to read that all the way through. The next longest is 1-2 Chronicles at 4 ½ hours. So if you took your 6-7 spare hours a day and used it wisely, you could actually read all 150 psalms in one go if you wanted to.
But not all of them are so long in terms of reading time. The shortest OT books are Obadiah at 4 minutes and Haggai at 7 minutes. And consider the New Testament: the gospels of Matthew and Mark are the longest at 2.5 hours each. And the shortest NT writings are 2 John and 3 John at 2 minutes each, followed by Philemon at 3 minutes and Jude at 4.
Hey, if you do not have a lousy 2 minutes a day to at least read a book like 2 John, you have got some issues that need to be addressed. Surely you have 10 or 15 minutes a day to read three or so chapters. As mentioned, even that minimalist reading schedule will get you through the entire Bible in one year. That is worth seeking to do.
Of course a few more things can be said about all this. If reading (without reflection, study, meditation etc) was the only thing going, such reading times would be one thing. And how they measured these reading times I am not sure. Some speed readers would go through these books of the Bible much faster. Slower readers might take longer. But I guess these are average times.
But the Bible is not your typical book. It has two authors: a divine author and human authors. It is divinely inspired, making it unique of all the books in the world. As such it is meant to be carefully and prayerfully studied and meditated upon.
It can easily be the case where one verse or passage grabs your attention (or the Holy Spirit gets your attention as you read it) and you can spend the next ten minutes – or an hour – reflecting on it, studying it, and praying over it. I find so often that each day as I read the Word this happens to me: something is always jumping out at me. The Bible is a Living Book.
Sure, sometimes a good Christian book can also have the same result. Perhaps you are reading a devotional by Spurgeon or an expository sermon by J. C. Ryle. You might come upon a passage of theirs that really jumps out at you, and you will spend time considering it, and maybe end up worshipping God as a result.
Having just mentioned two great saints of God, let me offer seven quotes from each one on this vitally important topic of the reading and study of Scripture:
“There is more Bible buying, Bible selling, Bible printing and Bible distributing than ever before in our nation. We see Bibles in every bookstore; Bibles of every size, price and style. There are Bibles in almost every house in the land. But all this time I fear we are in danger of forgetting that to HAVE the Bible is one thing, and to READ it quite another.” J. C. Ryle
“There is not enough Bible-reading among us. It is not sufficient to have the Book. We must actually READ it, and PRAY over it ourselves. It will do us no good, if it only lies still in our houses. We must be actually familiar with its contents, and have its texts stored in our memories and minds. Knowledge of the Bible never comes by intuition. It can only be obtained by diligent, regular, daily, attentive, wakeful reading.” J. C. Ryle
“There is no royal road to a knowledge of the Bible. There must be patient, daily, systematic reading of the Book, or the Book will not be known.” J. C. Ryle
“Let us arm ourselves with a thorough knowledge of the Word of God. Let us read our Bibles more diligently than ever, and become familiar with every part of them. Let the Word dwell in us richly. Let us beware of anything which would make us give less time and less heart to the perusal of its sacred pages. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit – let it never be laid aside. The Bible is the true lantern for a dark and cloudy time – let us beware of traveling without its light.” J. C. Ryle
“True Christians delight to read the Scriptures, because they tell them about their beloved Savior.” J. C. Ryle
“We must read our Bibles like men digging for hidden treasure.” J. C. Ryle
“Whatever you read, read the Bible first. Beware of bad books: there are plenty in this day. Take heed what you read.” J. C. Ryle
“The words of Scripture thrill my soul as nothing else ever can. They bear me aloft or dash me down. They tear me in pieces or build me up. The words of God have more power over me than ever David’s fingers had over his harp strings. Is it not so with you?” C. H. Spurgeon
“The Bible in the memory is better than the Bible in the bookcase.” Charles Spurgeon
“If there is any verse that you would like left out of the Bible, that is the verse that ought to stick to you, like a blister, until you really attend to its teaching.” Charles Spurgeon
“There is enough dust on some of your Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers.” Charles Spurgeon
“Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” Charles Spurgeon
“Within the Scripture there is a balm for every wound, a salve for every sore.” Charles Spurgeon
“When asked, ‘What is more important: Prayer or Reading the Bible?’ I ask, ‘What is more important: Breathing in or Breathing out?’” Charles Spurgeon
So after you read this article, start reading your Bible!