While I was in my teens, I often viewed Bible reading as my magical rabbit’s foot. If I read the Bible in the morning then my day would be better. If I did my morning quiet time I had more of a chance of passing the test, getting that date, and scoring the winning goal. I even wrote Bible verses on my arm when I was a kicker in football partially to be a witness to my teammates, but partially because somewhere deep down I really thought that the verses on my arm would increase my odds of making the kick.
I praise God that as a late teenager I found myself in a church that emphasized daily Bible reading as a spiritual discipline, but it was not until after years of daily Bible reading that I really grasped the why behind what I was doing. The action of Bible reading itself was not a way of earning God’s favor or blessing, nor would failure to read my Bible daily result in God’s judgment. The daily discipline of Bible reading is not even ultimately about learning new information, though it is a wonderful benefit. If you think that the point of Bible reading is merely new information, you will consider daily Bible reading a waste unless you discover some sort of new information. This gets harder to do over the years. What then is the benefit of daily Bible reading? What is my aim for doing so?
Don’t Just Read your Bible. Respond to your Bible.
God’s word is something at which we tremble (Is. 66:2). It pierces us. It discerns our thoughts, our intentions, and our hearts (Heb. 4:12). It equips us, teaches us, corrects us, and trains us (2 Tim. 3:16). It is our weapon of warfare in the raging spiritual battles that we face (Eph. 6:17). It reveals to us who God is, what he has done, what he is doing, what he will do, and why he deserves glory, and honor, and thanksgiving. The goal for Bible reading is not the mystical transfer of divine blessing in exchange for our obedience to read. The goal is not just to learn more information. The aim of Bible reading should be an appropriate response to what has been read. The goal of Bible reading is worship.
James pities the man who reads God’s word without responding to God’s word. He writes,
James 1:22-25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
The assumption here is that God’s word always invokes a response. It always calls for conformity to its truth. If God reveals himself in the text then it calls for worship. If sin is emphasized, then confession and repentance should follow. The spiritual discipline of daily Bible reading is, therefore, a gift to the Christian who is walking the narrow road in need of strength, direction, and reminding of eternal realities. We need this word so that we can walk rightly in light of the truth of this word.
What do I mean by, “respond to your Bible daily?” The most practical way to do this on daily basis is to make your daily devotionals a two-way conversation. As God speaks truth to you through His written word, speak back to him your requests for help to live in light of the word he has spoken. Devotionals should be conversational. John says that he wrote his letter so that his reader would have fellowship with the Father (1 John 1:3). Scripture and prayer are inseparable parts of the daily Christian journey. It is through the Bible we see truths, but it is through prayer that we ask God to bring those truths to bear on our hearts and lives.
The big question for finishing up a time of devotional reading should be, “what does this Scripture now move me to pray?” Sometimes those prayers will be very practical requests for help in very real situations. Sometimes those prayers will be prayers of praise, thanksgiving, and worship for what you have seen in his word. The doing of the word may not be a particular action step other than spending a few moments in worship through song or prayer. Ask this question of yourself in your daily Bible reading – how can I be a doer of this word rather than just a seer and a forgetter of this word?
By His Grace & For His Glory,
Pastor Brandon Langley,
St. Rose Community Church