Can I Have a Moment of Your Time? On Bible Reading

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!

[1536 words]


10 Replies to “Can I Have a Moment of Your Time? On Bible Reading”

  1. I am ploughing through Judges at the moment and ‘ploughing’ sure is the right word, I find it hard to reconcile this book with other books in the Bible, I really do.

  2. Thank you so much Bill, that has calmed my heart, now I understand a lot better. Just when I think I know such a lot about the Word of God I realised I know so very, very little.

  3. Amen Bill!
    I read 1 – 2 chapters each day from the Old and New Testaments. Depending on the chapter length, I may read more. This is first thing in the morning, with 2 strong coffees. I use a NKJV study Bible, so also dig into the commentary for each chapter. I agree how vital this should be to ALL believers. I could not face each day without the most important meal – Daily Bread.

    NB In the time it’s taken to read my comment, the 23rd Psalm could have completed…

  4. Thanks Bill, reading the Word of God is so important to get to know God’s Will.
    I follow Kenneth Copeland’s Calendar that has about 2-3 chapters of reading from the OT and one chapter from the NT Monday to Friday and then a few chapters from Psalms and a few verses from Proverbs on the weekends which also gets one through the Bible in a year and being on a calendar, if you miss a day or week away on holidays it keeps you up to date as makes you catch up. Marilyn Hickey also had a similar way of study or it is her study guide. This gives a weekly dose of everything especially when the Psalms and Proverbs are very thought provoking.

  5. Thanks Bill. What a brilliant write up on why we should read the Bible and how we can invest our time. Thank you for the research on how long it will take to read books like Genesis, the prophets like Habakkuk and the Psalms. It shows even if we have 5 mins we can read a book if we choose or a psalm and that can turn change our lives. Thanks for the exhortation to read the very Book of books God has given us from above, and thank you for the inspirational thoughts and challenges.
    Romans 12:1-2 also reminds us to surrender ourselves to the Living God so’ we may be transformed daily according to His perfect will’ but it also involves reading the word which alone can transform our thought life and emotions and help set our will and mind towards God….In contrast Satan will try to keep us from the Bible and try to fill our minds and hearts with lies, deceit and discouragement and accusations.
    I thank God He has given us a way to dwell and meditate on the word by providing the Old and New testament by the power of the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth (John 14) – and teach us to follow His laws and commands and to read of His love for mankind and plan for the final days.
    His word is a ‘lamp to our feet’ and a Light shining in a dark world that can never overcome the Light (John 1.5) revealing truth, revelation and promises we can trust and His plan for the final second coming of Jesus Christ…We have this to encourage us and to share with those who are seeking and can’t find answers to the darkness in this world, or for the chaos and violence.
    I thank God I took the challenge to read this book in 1970’s to see if it was truth and was transformed by all I read and received forgiveness and Christ into my life.
    What an amazing God and Creator we have who has given us this book so we can learn about Him from the time of Creation to the end of this world and beyond to look into the plan for new heaven in the Book of Revelation.

  6. Love reading His word ! Best library ever ! I walk n talk with Jesus when ever I meditate on His words.
    Blessings to you n yours Bill. Blessings to all who follow our Lord Jesus.

  7. There are 1189 chapters of the Bible if you read 3 a day for 3 days a then 4 the next and keep repeating by the end of the year you will be only 3 chapters shy of being completely through the Bible. Certainly on Dec 31st you can find a few extra minute for 3 chapters.

    Likewise you could get a one year Bible that allows you to go throw in a year. I have one that includes OT, NT, psalms, and proverbs readings each day.

  8. @ Paul Wilson -please forgive me, but I could not resist – do you have a day off in a Leap Year?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *