The other day I finished reading The Lord of the Rings. It wasn’t the first time I’d read the famous J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy. It’s been a favorite of mine since childhood, and I’ve read it at least half a dozen times. I love the story, the characters, and the land of Middle-earth. So it didn’t matter that I knew what was coming; I still breathed a contented sigh as I read the last paragraph and with my mind’s ear heard Sam Gamgee say, “I’m back.”
I’m sure that I’ll read the Lord of the Rings again, because it brings me delight and it touches themes in my soul that grow more meaningful to me with each passing year.
The Bible is infinitely more valuable to me than any work of fiction. Even though it’s not always as easy for me to read the Bible, I push into its pages for similar reasons of delight and meaning. And I try to increase my hunger for the Bible, because I know that I can too easily ignore it with all the demands and distractions of life.
Here are six things that have helped me fan the flame for Bible reading in my own life:
- Bible reading plans that hold my interest. There are all kinds of Bible reading plans available in print, online, or through Bible reading apps. Some go straight through the Bible, others arrange passages chronologically, and others walk through the text in various other ways. As long as the plan actually gets me into reading decent stretches of Bible text, then it’s going to help me increase my desire to read more.
- Faithful and clear translations of the Bible. There are many excellent and reliable English translations of the Bible today, and sometimes hearing a familiar passage in fresh words can spark my thinking as I meditate on the Word. In recent years I’ve read extensively from the NIV, ESV, NLT, and CSB. (The CSB is the newest and has been my personal reading Bible for about a year.)
- Going for quantity. It seems that the conventional wisdom about studying the Bible advocates diving deep into just a few verses, similar to the amount of text a pastor might preach or a Bible study lesson might cover. But personal Bible reading is altogether different than a sermon or a Bible lesson. A few verses are not going to really quench my thirst for the Bible, nor will they increase my desire to absorb God’s Word. I try to read an average of four chapters a day, or around 25-30 chapters a week.
- Reading with pen in hand. The act of writing helps me meditate a bit deeper, and I’m more likely to write down a thought or question if I’m ready to do so. But this doesn’t mean I have to constantly comment on the text. Many times I get to the end of my reading and I haven’t written down anything; but I’ve still absorbed the Word.
- A consistent place and time to read. I must admit I struggle with this these days; my Bible reading may come in the morning one day, at lunch the next, and just before bed the next day. However, at certain times in my life I’ve relished having a consistent Bible reading time.
- Getting accountable. For the past few years I’ve gotten together with one or two other guys to read the same Scripture plan and meet weekly with them to talk about what we’re learning and how we’re trying to obey God’s Word. This is the best way I’ve found to keep up my enthusiasm for personal Bible reading. There’s no substitute for friends that want to grow in God’s Word along with you.