By Peter Amsterdam
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Christians who desire a flourishing relationship with God and are interested in spiritual growth recognize that spending time taking in and absorbing God’s Word is of utmost importance. It is within the pages of the Bible that we learn about God and His love for humanity, about Jesus and His message, and about how to live in harmony with God and our fellow human beings.
God is the Creator, and He wants to be in relationship with His creation. In order to make that possible, He has revealed Himself to us through the Bible. In it, He tells of His love for us and of the actions He has taken to make it possible for us, as imperfect and finite beings, to be in relationship with Him. The more we abide in His Word and let His Word abide in us, the more we understand how to live our lives in alignment with Him, in accordance with His will, and in a manner that reflects Him and His love, especially in our interactions with others.
Setting aside time daily to read the Bible provides the opportunity to connect with God each day. It opens us up to letting Him speak to us through what we read, to His instruction and guidance, to His help through life’s problems and difficulties. Regular reading of God’s revelation to us reminds us of the moral code which we are meant to fashion our lives around, and provides us with guidance when we are faced with decisions.
It is in the Bible that we hear His teaching, see the example of His love, and are introduced to the relationship with His Father that His sacrifice has opened up for us. As we abide in His Word, we become more and more aware of the value He places on each individual, and the love and compassion He has for every human being. As we begin to absorb the truth contained within these pages, as we ponder and pray about those truths, and as we apply them to our daily living, we begin to anchor both our inner and outer lives on the foundation of Christlikeness, on godliness, and on the truth of God.
Each day we are flooded with a barrage of input from a wide variety of delivery systems, which influences us in one way or another. Taking time daily to read what God has said to us provides a way to navigate through the maelstrom of information and input that we are faced with. It enhances our spiritual ability to discern truth and falsehood. It makes it easier to keep our hearts centered on those things which are important to living lives of true happiness, inner peace, and alignment with God and His will. It helps us to endure and overcome all that life brings our way.
As Jesus said: “Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”1 Abiding in God’s Word brings us in regular contact with His Spirit. “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”2 Part of having that contact with the Lord, of having that promised peace, is spending time reading His Word.
Carving out the time to read daily is no easy task—it requires self-discipline, but taking regular time to read Scripture will strengthen your spirit and make you a stronger Christian—one who is grounded in God’s truth and love. The connection with God, that savoring of His Word, helps you to be Spirit-led in your daily interactions with others, in your decision-making, and in your ability to stay strong in the face of daily temptations.
There is no specific formula for how much you need to read daily or what portions of the Bible you should read. The key is setting aside the time to do it and then sticking to it.
It helps to commit to reading a certain number of chapters per day, as having a realistic goal can motivate you to stick with your reading even on busy days. The book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life makes the observations that reading 15 minutes a day will take you through the entire Bible within a year, and that reading three chapters a day and five chapters on Sunday will accomplish the same.
Hearing about God’s Word
Along with personally reading God’s Word, it can be beneficial to hear His Word spoken about as well. This would entail reading, listening to, or watching sermons, talks, discussions, and posts which pertain to the Word and godly principles. It can be helpful to watch or listen to those who share God’s words in a manner which speaks to you and helps strengthen your connection and relationship with the Lord.
It’s often much easier to listen to someone else speak about the principles and teachings of God’s Word than it is to take the time to read the Word yourself and to think about and meditate on what you have read. While it’s spiritually feeding and beneficial to listen to sermons and read articles about the Word, it shouldn’t replace your time reading the Bible and benefiting from what the Lord Himself has to say to you personally through His Word.
Meditating on the Word
When you read the Bible or listen to others expound on it, it’s important to ask yourself what God is speaking to you about through what you’re reading or hearing. Think about it; ask yourself why it stood out to you and what the Lord might be trying to tell you through it. It’s a time to let the Lord communicate with you through His Word.
Focusing on what you read or hear, and thinking more deeply about it, is part of meditating on God’s Word. Our lives are so busy and we often feel we need to rush from one thing to the next, so it’s difficult to take the time to truly think about what we’ve read and how to apply it, but it’s important to do so if we want it to affect us.
In the Psalms we hear David speak of meditating on God and His Word: “I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways. I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.”3
Reading God’s Word and meditating on it brings us into personal communication with God. As we meditate on what we’ve read, we create the opportunity for His Word to speak to our hearts because we put ourselves in the position of being willing and available to listen to Him. In meditating on His Word, we enter into His presence, hungering to learn, to grow, to change, to draw close to Him, to do His will. He desires to speak to each of us directly.
If we want godliness in our lives, if our desire is to emulate our Savior, if we want the light which shines through us to be the light of God and His love, then we need to take time with Him and His Word. God’s Word—the Bible—is His revelation of Himself to humanity. Reading and meditating on it, applying it to our inner being and to our outer actions is vital to being like Jesus.
It is through the regular deep absorption of the water of His Word in our hearts that we are gradually renewed and transformed to become more like Him. It is through the application of what we read and meditate on that we have the grace to live lives that are in alignment with His will. For His Word is a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path.4
Take the time to commune deeply with God through His Word. It will change your life.
[Jesus] said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”5
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”6
You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.7
I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways. I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.8
Originally published January 2014. Excerpted and republished August 2019.
Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
1 Matthew 7:24–25 ESV.
2 John 6:63 ESV.
3 Psalm 119:15–16 ESV.
4 Psalm 119:105.
5 Luke 11:28 ESV.
6 John 14:23 ESV.
7 Psalm 138:2 ESV.
8 Psalm 119:15–16 ESV.