The Bible is the written Word of God and is essential for the spiritual growth of every Christian. But with 66 books and over 1,189 chapters, figuring out how much time to spend reading and studying the Bible can be a challenge. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll look at practical strategies and biblical principles to help you determine how long you should read the Bible each day.
- Set a minimum time goal of 15-30 minutes per day for Bible reading. This ensures you read the entire Bible in a year.
- Go beyond just reading – spend time meditating, memorizing, and applying the Word. The goal is transformation, not just information.
- Pray before you read and ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding. Scripture should be read in dependence on God.
- Treat Bible reading as a delight, not a duty. Approach God’s Word with awe and gratitude for the privilege of accessing divine truth.
- Let circumstances determine maximum time spent, not minimum time. Seek the Lord diligently and He will reward those who earnestly seek Him.
- Balance Bible reading with other spiritual disciplines like prayer, fellowship, and evangelism. Don’t neglect time with God and time with people.
- Key Takeaways:
- The Importance of Reading God's Word
- Benefits of Regular Bible Reading
- How Much Bible Reading is Enough?
- Tips for Setting a Bible Reading Plan
- How to Read the Bible Effectively
- Balancing Bible Reading with Prayer and Other Spiritual Disciplines
- Hindrances to Bible Reading
- Applying and Obeying Scripture
- Delighting in God's Word
The Importance of Reading God’s Word
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The Bible is no ordinary book – these are the very words of God recorded for mankind. All Scripture is “inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16) and was written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As such, the Bible has extreme value and importance in the life of every believer. Through Scripture we learn about the character and will of God, how to live in a way that honors Him, and how He wants us to relate to others. Reading the Bible nourishes our spirit and renews our mind. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stressed the importance of knowing and obeying the Word of God (Matthew 7:24-27). The psalmist declared the wonders of God’s Word and its ability to revive the soul, make the simple wise, bring joy to the heart, and enlighten the eyes (Psalm 19:7-11). God’s Word equips us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17) and will not return void but will accomplish what God desires and achieve His purposes (Isaiah 55:11). Neglecting time in the Scripture robs us of the nourishment, guidance, and blessings God wants to grant through His written revelation.
Benefits of Regular Bible Reading
Setting aside time each day to read God’s Word offers many benefits:
- Increased faith – Romans 10:17 declares “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Exposure to Scripture increases our faith.
- Victory over sin – The Bible equips us to battle temptation and conform to Christ’s image (Psalm 119:9-11). Hiding God’s Word in our hearts enables us to sin less against God (Psalm 119:11).
- Wisdom for decisions – The Bible offers counsel and guidance for every situation when we apply its truths by the Spirit’s power (Psalm 119:105).
- Deeper intimacy with God – The more we engage with God’s Word, the more we understand His heart and grow closer to Him.
- Clarity of purpose – Immersing ourselves in Scripture brings clearer direction from the Lord for life. Biblical truth cuts through confusion.
- Power to accomplish God’s will – God’s Word energizes and empowers us for Christian service (Psalm 119:98-100).
The list could go on and on. In short, having a Bible reading plan and sticking to it pays massive dividends in our walk with Christ. Neglecting the Bible leads to spiritual weakness and stagnation.
How Much Bible Reading is Enough?
So how much Bible reading should we aim for each day? While there’s no legalistic rule, here are some general guidelines:
Minimum – 15-30 minutes
A good minimum goal is 15-30 minutes of Bible reading per day. This ensures you are able to read through the entire Bible in a year. Depending on reading speed and the particular reading plan, this equates to about 3-5 chapters per day. Of course, it’s beneficial to read larger portions when you have more time, but setting a minimum threshold helps form a habit. Christians should strive to read the entire Bible, not just favorite parts, so you can understand Scripture as a whole.
Maximum – No legal limit
When setting Bible reading goals, the emphasis should be on minimum, not maximum. Our problem is often lack of discipline rather than overzealousness. At the same time, balance is important, and reading should not eclipse time for other spiritual disciplines and responsibilities. As much as you desire and time permits is a good general guideline. The more exposure to Scripture, the more transformation can occur. Let your circumstances and the leading of the Holy Spirit determine maximum time, not legalistic rules. God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6) and desires us to read His Word with an eager appetite.
Average – 60 minutes
While individual capabilities and schedules differ, a good average goal is around 60 minutes of intentional, focused Bible reading per day. This allows you to read the Bible from cover to cover in about 120 days. The amount of time may include supplemental activities like taking notes, researching contexts, or meditation to help comprehension and application. The key is active engagement with Scripture, not just passive reading. Spending an hour a day in the Word will provide tremendous spiritual nourishment for growth in godliness.
The bottom line is consistency. Set a minimum reading time you can stick with each day. Additional time spent beyond that minimum only enhances the benefits. Far better to read 20 minutes consistently than attempt an hour inconsistently. Through regular exposure to God’s Word, even in small doses, you will experience steady transformation.
Tips for Setting a Bible Reading Plan
Here are some tips for establishing a practical Bible reading plan:
- Set a consistent time – Identify a regular time you are most likely to follow through on. Make it a firm appointment with the Lord that takes priority over other activities.
- Start your day with Bible reading – Reading a portion of Scripture first thing in the morning helps focus your mind on God’s truth and prime you for the day ahead.
- Follow a Bible reading checklist – Using a checklist helps you read through the Bible systematically so you don’t miss sections. Checklists come in the form of books, online tools, or smartphone apps.
- Vary your reading – Occasionally shake up your routine by listening to the Bible on audio, studying topical passages, or reflecting on smaller portions. Variety keeps things fresh.
- Read consecutively – Reading a book continuously from start to finish helps you grasp the full context and flow of thought. Don’t constantly jump around.
- Supplement with longer readings – Consider setting aside time for lengthier reading on weekends or certain weekdays to offset shorter readings on busier days.
- Partner with a friend – Having an accountability partner or reading along with a group helps provide motivation. You can discuss insights together.
The most important principle: start somewhere and be consistent! God is more concerned with steady interaction than perfectly constructed reading plans. Begin forming the Bible reading habit today.
How to Read the Bible Effectively
Simply reading the Bible is not enough – we need to know how to read effectively. Here are tips for getting the most out of our Bible reading time:
- Pray before reading – Ask God to open your spiritual eyes, speak to you through His Word, and apply it to your life. Depend on the Holy Spirit for understanding.
- Read with purpose – Have a goal in mind, such as reading for encouragement, guidance, knowing God better, or discovering biblical truth. Read in response to what God is doing in your life.
- Read the context – Don’t cherry-pick isolated verses. Grasp the whole passage and book context so you interpret accurately. Understand the background.
- Look for key themes – Identify repeated ideas, concepts, or words that stand out as primary themes to focus on. Take notes or highlight them.
- Meditate and memorize – Meditating on the passage by thinking deeply about its meaning and implications helps digestion. Memorizing key verses also aids meditation.
- Ask exploratory questions – Who, what, where, when, why, and how type questions help unpack the intended meaning as you read. Query how passages apply.
- Visualize narrative scenes – If reading narrative, imagine yourself as part of the scene to bring it to life. See settings and characters develop in your mind.
- Take notes and underline – Write down key insights, write out verses that stand out, underline pivotal sentences – do anything to interact vigorously with the text.
The goal is not just to read, but to understand, remember, and apply God’s Word. The Bible is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and we should seek to actively engage with its truths, not read passively. The more actively we read, the greater the impact.
Balancing Bible Reading with Prayer and Other Spiritual Disciplines
While essential, reading the Bible is just one part of the Christian life. For balanced spiritual growth, it needs to be supplemented with other disciplines like prayer, worship, evangelism, service, fasting, fellowship and more. Some key principles to keep in mind:
- Read in an attitude of prayer – Even while reading the Bible, we should maintain a spirit of prayer and dependence on the Holy Spirit. Thank God for His Word and ask Him for help applying it.
- Let the Bible guide your prayers – Pray through passages as you read, turning what you read into prayer. Let God’s Word direct what you pray about.
- Strive for a conversational time with God – Your devotional time should not be monopolized by reading. Make sure to leave time to quietly listen to God and have a two-way conversation.
- Also spend time in praise and thanks – Reading is not the only way to interact with God. Singing, expressing gratitude, and reminiscing on God’s work in your life are all vital.
- Keep in mind the Great Commission – As important as God’s Word is, don’t forget our mandate to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples. Read the Bible not just for personal growth but to equip us to reach others for Christ.
- Fellowship with other believers – No Christian grows in isolation. Make sure to balance intake of God’s Word with interaction and ministry to others within the body of Christ.
The ideal balance is to have intake through Bible reading and prayer coupled with output through evangelism, service, and fellowship. Keep moving in both directions. Be diligent in seeking God yet also diligent in serving people according to the truths learned.
Hindrances to Bible Reading
Despite our good intentions, often challenges arise that can hinder consistency with Bible reading. Here are some common obstacles along with potential solutions:
Lack of Time
Solution: Re-evaluate priorities and schedule. Identify small pockets of time to read (like mealtimes or commute time if possible). Wake up earlier. Or try listening to audio Bibles. The time is there if we look hard enough.
Solution: Place your Bible and checklist in a visible spot. Set phone reminders. Have an accountability partner check on you. Create habits and routines that help you remember.
Lack of Discipline
Solution: Start small and be consistent with a minimum amount. Add more as the habit forms. Remind yourself of all the benefits. Pray for greater discipline. Reward yourself for progress. Partner with others to build discipline together.
Solution: Eliminate possible distractions from your reading location. Have a dedicated reading spot. Set a time limit. Refocus wandering thoughts. Read aloud or use your finger to track words.
Solution: Pray for insight. Read footnotes and use study aids like commentaries. Discuss passages with mature believers. Listen to the Bible on audio. Read an understandable translation like the NKJV.
Lack of Interest
Solution: Revisit your motivations and the importance of reading. Pray for a greater appetite. Preview sections to build anticipation. Identify personally relevant passages. Read with a friend for accountability. Taking notes and asking questions can also increase engagement.
With prayer and creativity, you can troubleshoot any factor that throws off your Bible reading plan. Don’t allow obstacles to justify neglect. Strive to persist through every difficulty and feed on God’s Word daily.
Applying and Obeying Scripture
While reading the Bible provides many benefits, simply ingesting information about God is not the end goal. We are called to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22 NKJV). Here are tips to increase application:
- Ask “How can I apply this?” – After reading each passage, prayerfully consider how the principles and commands directly apply. Get specific and practical.
- Focus on one key takeaway – Rather than get overwhelmed trying to apply everything, prayerfully identify the primary application for you from that passage and start there.
- Apply Bible truth to daily situations – Monitor your thoughts and decisions throughout the day. When challenges arise, ask “How do the truths I’m reading speak to this situation?”
- Write down action steps – Don’t just ponder applications. Write down 1-2 specific, measurable actions you will take to live out the passage. Then review and follow through.
- Share with others what you are learning – Verbalizing insights helps cement application. Testimonies also encourage others to apply God’s Word.
- Begin applying right away – Don’t put off obedience. The minute God speaks to you through His Word, take steps to immediately apply with His help.
- Pray through applications – Entrust each application step to God in prayer. Seek the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to enable you to follow through.
- Remember God’s grace when you fail – When we fall short in applying Scripture, receive God’s forgiveness and get back on track. Don’t allow the Enemy to derail you through guilt.
Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV). As we diligently apply God’s Word by His grace, we will grow in Christlikeness and bear much spiritual fruit.
Delighting in God’s Word
Thus far we’ve focused on the “duty” of Bible reading – the need for discipline, tips for effectiveness, overcoming obstacles, etc. However, at its foundation, time in God’s Word should stem from delight, not just duty:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2 NKJV)
We read the Bible not just because we should, but because we relish every opportunity to engage with God’s glorious truth. We follow Bible reading plans not out of obligation, but from overflow of a heart hungry to know God more intimately. Duty may motivate initially, but delight sustains us for the long haul. When delight wanes, pray for God to renew your awe and wonder over the privilege of accessing His very words each day. Ask Him tosatisfy your soul’s deepest thirst with the living water of Scripture. God takes pleasure in His people longing for intimate fellowship with Him through His Word. As Psalm 42:1 declares, “As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” May this passionate pursuit of the Lord through Bible reading characterize our daily communion with Him.
In summary, setting aside consistent time for Bible reading and study, even just 15 minutes a day, provides incredible spiritual nourishment and equipping for the Christian life. More exposure to God’s Word equals more transformation into Christ’s image. Follow a checklist to ensure you read the entire Bible. Let the Holy Spirit and your circumstances guide how much beyond that you can devote to Scripture intake. Strive not just to read, but to understand, meditate upon, memorize, and apply. Balance Bible reading with prayer, praise, and fellowship. The Bible is not just a book – these are the living words of God Himself recorded for our benefit. What a joy and privilege it is to prayerfully engage with divine truth each day! God stands ready to meet with us and supernaturally empower us through His Word.