“Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and 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 3:14-17
Let that sink in. Scripture is God-breathed, able to make us complete and to teach, reprove, correct, and train us – and we have it bound on our bookshelves. God spoke creation into being. His words have tremendous power, and we have access to them through the Scriptures. What an incredible gift!
So why does reading Scripture often feel like such an obligation?
I say this not from a soapbox, but rather from a deep awareness of my own struggles. Until recently, I had the same nightly routine: I sat down, read a chapter of the Bible, and journaled a prayer. If I missed a night, I’d make it up the next morning, completing two quiet times in one day rather than miss logging one in my notebook.
In college, as work took up more and more of my time, my Bible reading was relegated to a few minutes before bed. My brain and body were exhausted after finishing all my homework, and, hard as I tried, I couldn’t concentrate. Yet I kept up the routine because otherwise, I wasn’t checking the “quiet time” box.
Like the Pharisees, I had created my own artificial rules around God’s words. It’s easy to trap ourselves in the belief that unless we spend X minutes a day, write in our journals, or respond with a feeling of X, Y, or Z, the time we spend in the Word isn’t enough. Those rules make what should be an incredible joy into a heavy burden. Spending time in the Word and bringing requests to our Father in response is a privilege and a joy, no matter how long we spend doing so. Brothers and sisters, if you’ve built artificial rules around your time in the Word, let them go!
Yet letting go of legalism doesn’t mean letting go of intentionality. A steady diet of Scripture feeds spiritual growth: it enables us to guard our ways and keep them pure (Psalm 119:9), gives us understanding (Psalm 119:130), and makes it possible for us to hold fast to that which has the power to save (1 Corinthians 15:2). If you don’t feel like you have the time, let me gently remind you that you make time for the things that are important to you – and what could be more important than this?
I felt like I didn’t have the time, too. But finally, I became too frustrated with my bleary-eyed, box-checking approach to continue. So, this past summer, I made one simple change: I started to read Scripture in the morning, instead of before bed. An awake, alert brain made all the difference. Now, I read Scripture eagerly, all because I have the time and energy to concentrate on what I’m reading.
It can seem daunting to jump into Scripture reading, but it doesn’t have to be. The man who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night is called blessed (Psalm 1:2), but the concrete steps of doing so are largely up to us. What follows is not law, but merely my suggestions for establishing a routine for Scripture reading.
The first step is to make it part of your routine. Plan to read Scripture at a time when you know you’ll have an open and alert mind – and remember that figuring out what works best may require some flexibility. At the end of the day, it’s not about the routine: routine is merely a tool for prioritizing the Word, the end goal of which is to approach Scripture intentionally. Try setting an alarm on your phone, or working it into your day between wrapping up work and going to bed.
The next step? Open your Bible. That’s it! Commentaries can be excellent guides for in-depth studies, and devotionals are great places to start if you don’t know where to begin, but all you need to pursue God through His word is a Bible. God’s word never returns to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11); it is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). His word has power, all by itself.
Reading Scripture is a joy, not an obligation. It strengthens us to live for His glory, equips us for every good work, and teaches, reproves, and corrects us as the situation requires. Let’s continue in what we have learned and believed by reading and meditating on it.