I ran across this headline the other day. Bible reading is not a hot dog eating contest and I was curious. Reading the article, I found I agreed with the author and it is in fact one issue I have with through-the-Bible reading plans.
It’s not that I have problems with people reading the Bible. People need to read the Bible and sadly, research indicates about only one-third of people attending church rarely read it. I do however, have issues when it’s treated as a “to-do” list. Something I race through to check off my list of today’s required activities. Bible reading isn’t a sprint, it isn’t even a marathon. It’s a nice slow walk.
Our fasted paced society has great difficulty in slowing down. Within the church, we want services to proceed quickly, flow smoothly from one segment to another and the pastor absolutely can not go beyond his pre-approved time. Some approach Bible reading with the same attitude and the idea of spending more time than my 5 minute allotment to “devotions” is disruptive to their spiritual lifestyle.
I’ve ascribed to a theory a few years ago, many years now actually, where I no longer try to read the Bible in an entire year. I know that sounds sac-religious in evangelical circles but I have found spending time – a long time – in a passage or a going slowly through a book of the Bible of much greater benefit. It is not unheard of for me to spend months (in my current case – years) in one section or book of the Bible.
Discipline is of course a necessary thing and for that reason I think a Bible reading plan can be helpful. If you need that sort of thing to encourage you in your reading then by all means do so. But don’t get all wrapped up in “I have to do this reading thing” with the same attitude you might have when loading the dish washer. You do because you know you need to and therefore, the sooner you can read your 2-3 chapters a day, the better off you’ll be – you can check that off your list.
You know you’ve begun treating Bible reading like a hot dog eating contest when you miss a day and begin to feel guilty. So you promise yourself (and God), “I’ll just make it up and read twice as much tomorrow.”
If that is your way of thinking about Bible reading – STOP! Slow down. Re-read that passage tomorrow. Maybe slowly just read one chapter or even just a handful of verses, and see if you can see anything new the LORD maybe trying to show you. Then, you might want to read the same chapter again tomorrow or the next day. You do not get “extra points” when you get to Heaven because you successfully raced through your Bible. God is not going to be disappointed in you because you read the same Bible passage three days in a row. Trust me on this.
Bible reading is not a hot dog eating contest, seeing how fast you can get through His Word and proudly proclaiming, “I read through the entire Bible in six months! Go me!” If that’s you, display your ribbon and enjoy it. Now, pick a passage of Scripture and slowly read it and without a plan, a clock or a to-do list, read that chapter or book seven days in a row – slowly. If you do that, you will discover a richer and deeper level of communication God has for you in His Word. He speaks through His Word and that rarely happens when we race through it and treat it as another item on our “to-do” list.
Get into the Word. Don’t race through it. Take your time and allow Him to teach you through His Word.
Blessings My Friend!