Many have heard the story of the man whose devotional reading
consisted of cracking his Bible at random and reading the first
verse his finger touched. One morning this was his verse for the
day: "And Judas went out and hanged himself."
That can't be it, he thought. So he tried again. "Go thou
and do likewise" was his second hit.
Chagrined, he thought,The third time is a charm! It wasn't. It read:
"What thou doest, do quickly!"
Few of us are as off-base as that man, but since we have a fresh
New Year ahead, let's look at seven ways we can improve our
The most obvious advice is: "Just do it!" Millions of
Christians don't, and it shows in their attitudes and
life-styles. A Charles Schulz cartoon from the book Young Pillars
shows a gangling teenager on the phone with his girlfriend. The
caption reads: "I'm beginning to unravel the mystery of the
Old Testament; I'm reading it!"
2. Read Prayerfully
You're not reading a secular book or even a great Christian one;
you're reading God's inspired message to you. Ask His blessing
and the Spirit's enlightenment every time you read.
3. Read Systematically
Read entire books of the Bible, not just snippets. And remember
to keep a record of what you've read. Whether you use a one-year
system (see Our Daily Bread for an example) or a three-year one
doesn't matter. Make a commitment to read seven minutes a day to
4. Read Graciously
Don't make Bible-reading a legalistic fetish: "I missed this
morning, so everything will go wrong today" or "No
Bible, no breakfast." When you're ill, under special
pressure, or rushed to leave home, a short passage read with care
is worth three chapters rushed through to assuage your
This is God's love letter to His people and when cynics read it
to ridicule or find fault they're reading someone else's mail!
(If you're one of those, dear reader, do keep reading, but look
for God's grace in Christ, not faults!)
5. Read Attentively
A liberal New Testament scholar admitted on his death bed that he
"had never read the New Testament with attention"
(although, no doubt, he had read with attention many scholarly
books and articles about the New Testament). Let's not be guilty
of such a cavalier handling of God's Word. Shut off all the
world, especially radio, TV, records, CDs, and tapes, and give
the King your undivided attention.
Visualize the historical narratives, meditate on the poetry, and
apply the exhortations.
6. Read Expectantly
As you search for wisdom to live each day, continue your reading
for that day until you find it. God will speak through His Word!
7. Read Joyfully
Our pioneer ancestors laboriously traced out God's words in big
family Bibles. It showed in their stable and righteous lives. We
ought to give the Bible that kind of respect.
Keep reading and eventually you will enjoy the Bible. It will
gradually change from the "branflakes" stage (dry but
nourishing) to the "peaches-and-cream" stage
("Hey, I'm enjoying this!").
Maybe you're just not a book person, but by all means be a Book
The late Dr. John Mitchell, a graduate of Dallas Seminary's first
class and long-time professor at Multnomah School of the Bible in
Portland, Oregon, used to lecture students when their ignorance
of some text surfaced. He would say with his Scottish burr,
"Don't you fellas ever read you Bi-bles?"
I pass on his fatherly command to those who didn't have the
privilege of sitting under his ministry: "Read you