Adapted from our Gospel for Life Discipleship program
Reading or listening to absorb the Bible is crucial for spiritual growth. Donald Whitney, a leading teacher on spiritual disciples, writes, “No spiritual discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. There simply is no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture.”
The late philanthropist and pastor George Müller said something similar: “The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts.”
Although the Bible is important, many have a hard time absorbing it. A study in Canada found that self-identified Christians did not engage the Bible much differently than Canadians in general. George Guthrie, professor of the Bible at Union University, says that if you ask one hundred church members if they read the Bible at least once in the past week, sixty-eight will say no.
Reading or listening to the Bible may be the most effective and ignored strategy for spiritual growth.
How to Start
This habit may seem scary at first. Shrink the challenge, and make it small enough that you’re confident you can succeed.
Getting started isn’t as hard as you might think.
- Choose a format. If you’re an auditory learner, consider listening to the Bible. If you prefer to read, that’s great too. We’ll give you some options below.
- Choose a goal. Again, be realistic. Reading or listening to the Bible in a year takes around 75 hours a year, or less 15 minutes a day. Another great option is to read the Bible over two years, which takes only 7-8 minutes a day. We really like this option for people who’ve never read the Bible before.
- Practice. We agree with David Mathis: “At the end of the day, there is simply no replacement for finding a regular time and place, blocking out distractions, putting your nose to the text, and letting your heart and mind be led and captured and thrilled by God himself communicating to us in his objective written words.”
- Don’t give up. Many people quit if they get behind. Don’t make this mistake. Just start where you are, and carry on like you never missed anything.
Make Your Choice
The number of apps, websites, and paper Bibles is amazing. We want to get you going rather than overwhelming you with options.
- If you want to use a website, try ESVBible.org. You can read or listen to a number of good plans.
- If you want to try an app, try the ESV Bible App. (The IOS version currently contains more features than the Android version.) You can listen to the Bible using these apps.
- Audible.com sells a good selection of audio Bibles.
- Another option is Bible in One Year, available through an app (IOS and Android) and website.
- The Bible Project provides a one-year reading plan, and video introductions to each book of the Bible.
- If you prefer paper, try the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, or NLT Illustrated Study Bible. A good study Bible is an essential tool. We highly recommend that you buy one.
The most important thing is to get started. Choose one, and experiment. Start slowly and realistically as you build this new habit.
Interested in more? Check out Gospel for Life Discipleship.