Whenever I write or speak about the need for Christians to daily read their Bible, I almost always get some form of pushback. At the heart of most of the pushback I hear is something along the lines of how I’m making Bible reading a duty rather than a delight. I’ll grant that sometimes I don’t always communicate on this topic in the most nuanced way. After these conversations, I’m often left wondering, “Why do we need to qualify and nuance daily Bible reading?” After all, daily Bible reading has had a long tradition in the church’s history, especially in the Reformed tradition since the Protestant Reformation.
Daily Bible Reading: Duty or Delight?
We say as conservative Bible-believing; Christians in the Reformed tradition that we believe in the inspiration, inerrancy, authority, clarity, and sufficiency of the Word. My question is, “How can we be daily practicing the Word of God if we don’t read it daily?”
At this point, some people may think, “Well, you are aiming in this article to guilt-trip me into daily reading my Bible.” And this couldn’t be further from the truth. We are living in a biblically illiterate culture where even Christians, most surveys demonstrate, don’t even know the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and more. Christians desperately need to be in the Word of God daily. We also face serious challenges to biblical sexuality inside and outside the church from homosexuality, transgenderism, and more. As God’s people, we must ask ourselves, “How will we stand for what the Bible says if we don’t daily read or listen to Scripture?”
And so, you don’t get me wrong here, daily Bible reading is a delight, not a duty, but with that said, it is still essential for a healthy Christian life. When we love someone or something, we spend time with that person or thing. For example, I love my wife, so I spend daily time with her because she’s precious to me. If we believe what I described in the previous paragraph about the nature of the Bible and love Jesus, we must ask ourselves, “How can we not spend daily time in the Word?” It’s both a delight to be in the Word of God and a duty to be in the Word of God. God assigns specific promises in His Word to those who are daily in the Word (Psalm 1 is an excellent example of this).
Paul taught Timothy to discipline himself for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). Bible reading falls within the means of grace, whereby, His people discipline themselves daily. It also must be said that such discipline isn’t done out of dutiful obligation but out of joyful delight. We delight in God when we find Him to be precious and infinitely great. The net result is we will desire to know Him more. And that perspective I just described should characterize all true Christians’ life and daily experience. Every true Christian should hunger and thirst for righteousness, including daily for the Word of God.
How to View Daily Bible Reading
Daily Bible reading can be done not only with a print Bible. I enjoy listening to the Bible daily for 10-15 minutes each day on the ESV Bible App. Listening to Scripture often helps me to pick up on things I would miss reading Scripture. Listening to the Bible on the ESV Bible app also gets me thinking about biblical truth first thing in the morning. You might also consider reading or listening to the Word for five to ten minutes daily.
I’m not advocating that you begin at the hour or two-hour mark and then run yourself into the ground. As a seasoned Bible reader, I don’t even do that. Instead, I daily want to spend quality time (perhaps 5-10 minutes to start) with God’s Word to know the Lord better. I cherish the Bible; it’s precious to me because it contains the central message of redemption centered on the Lord Jesus.
Daily Bible Reading: A Joyful Duty
Daily Bible reading is a joy. When daily Bible reading becomes something we check off our spiritual checklist, we will never grow in grace. Nor will we will ever discipline ourselves for godliness. And at the heart of much of the objection to daily Bible reading is our self-sufficiency. We cannot pave our way to godliness in the Christian life. Instead, we have a sure and authoritative Word in the Bible that illuminates our way in the righteousness of God.
Daily Bible reading is both a delight and a joyful duty. It’s a delight to get to know the Lord of the Word, but we also must love Him with all of our heart and mind (Matthew 22:37-40). So, we read, study, and meditate on the Word so the Holy Spirit may convict and apply the Word to our lives, resulting in God’s people growing in His grace.
Christian’s growth in grace is not an option; it’s a command (2 Peter 1:3-15; 3:18). Our growth in God’s grace is grounded in the sure, authoritative, truthful foundation of God’s Word. With that said, we must still do spiritual work; part of that work is daily Bible reading. Daily Bible reading is where we discipline ourselves for 5-20 minutes each day before the Lord of the Word. The Holy Spirit uses the Word in the life of the Christian to help them daily delight more in Jesus than in themselves. The Bible is the ultimate love letter given by God to help His people know and serve Him.
Rather than viewing Bible reading as something to cross off your daily spiritual to-do list, understand why God has given us His Word. It’s a daily delight to get to know the Lord better. He has given us sixty-six books, thirty-nine in the Old Testament and twenty-seven in the New Testament. Let’s you and I spend a quality 5-20 minutes each day reading or listening to the Word before we get our day going. Not only will our thinking begin to change, but so will our hearts and lives, with the effect that our attitudes, behavior, ethics, and thus our character and worldview will continue to be daily transformed by the Lord of the Word.
At the heart of why Christians read the Bible is all that has already been said in this article grounded in the Lord taking our hearts of stone and replacing them with a new heart, new desires, and new affections for Himself. When we read or listen to our Bibles daily, we train our new affections and desires to be disciplined before the face of the Lord.
As you daily read your Bible, understand what you are doing. As God’s people, we read and meditate on the Word because we believe God speaks to His people through His authoritative Word. Since we are to delight in and find Him to be all-satisfying, we read His Word daily to get to know the inexhaustible depths of God in His final revelation, the Word of God.
Please pick up your Bible and read or listen to it on the ESV Bible app, and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As you do, you’ll find yourself not only growing in your understanding of God’s Word. You’ll also find that your heart and mind are daily thinking about what is noble, pure, good, holy, and just. There’s nothing better for God’s people to do than to joyfully delight in God through the daily discipline of Bible reading.