A Worthy Goal for a New Year
Apparently fewer Americans are reading the Bible daily. A Barna study on behalf of the American Bible Society came out last year (during the time of COVID-19) that showed a drop in the number of Americans who claim to read the Bible every day—from 14 percent to 9 percent.
That seems strange since you would think that during the pandemic, when we have been forced to spend more time indoors, more of us would have found time to read the Scriptures.
It should also be noted that we are talking about at least 30 million Americans who carve out time every day to read the Bible. There’s no other book that would rival that kind of readership.
I have found, as a Bible reader for about 45 years now, that reading the Scriptures is rewarding in and of itself. I was shocked, when I first started reading the Bible, how many daily words and phrases come right from its pages. “Turn the other cheek.” “Do unto others.” “Go the second mile.” “My brother’s keeper,” and so on. There are easily a couple hundred words and phrases used all the time—even in our highly secular age—that first came from the Bible.
Reading the Bible is vital because through it, God speaks to us. Because He speaks to us, His Word is inexhaustible. What I mean by that is that you can read and re-read the same passages and learn something new from it. No other book is like that. No other book warrants re-reading and re-studying like the Scriptures.
There are many in our world today who pay a high price just to read the Bible. Many of them don’t even have access to the Scriptures. Wendy Wright, the president of Christian Freedom International, a group that helps the persecuted church, notes that Christians at risk for persecution around the world today number about 260 million.
And many of them crave the Scriptures. Wendy gave me one example: “In North Korea, where citizens are indoctrinated to worship Kim Jong Un, 40 percent of the people are undernourished. Christians who escape desperately find ways to send food—and Bibles—to their countrymen. One man who miraculously escaped now risks his life to help others. He said, ‘Rice is important. But Bibles are even more important.’”
In our own country, we have a rich tradition of many presidents and leaders who were regular readers of the Bible.
Take, for example, the 6th president, John Quincy Adams. Here was a man who did so much to fight against slavery in this country. After his presidency, he became a congressman (the only former president to do so). He invested time into a young congressman from Illinois, who served only one term, training him on the fight against the evil practice of slavery. That man was Abraham Lincoln. Adams was called “The Hell-Hound of Slavery.”
Like William Wilberforce, who led the half-century crusade against slavery in England, and like Abraham Lincoln, Adams was a fervent reader of the Bible.
Adams wrote in his diary on September 26, 1810: “I have made it a practice for several years to read the Bible through in the course of every year. I usually devote to this reading the first hour after I rise every morning….my rule is to read five chapters every morning…Extraordinary pressure or business seldom interrupts more than one day’s reading at a time.”
If busy presidents could carve out time to read the Bible, why can’t we? If we’re too busy to read the Bible, then we’re too busy. Period.
For the Christian, reading the Bible is like eating. If you don’t eat, you starve. If you don’t spend time in God’s Word, you ultimately starve spiritually.
So this coming year, find some plan to spend time reading and studying God’s Word. It will drastically improve your walk with God.
I like a book from the 1940s from England, called “Search the Scriptures.” If you use it every day, over a three year period, you will have studied the entire Bible cover to cover. I’ve used that book many times. Walk Thru the Bible and other ministries have developed schedules whereby people can plug into a daily plan to read the Word of God, daily. Find a plan and stick with it.
I heard a man say recently that reading that calendar day’s chapter in Proverbs (with 31 chapters) every day turned his work life around, from failure to success.
Twenty years ago there was a national outdoor ad campaign on some 10,000 billboards with one-liners signed by “God.” The stark white text on a simple black background were bold and thought-provoking. One of the billboard messages read: “Have you read my #1 best seller? (There will be a test.) – God.”