Why did God give us, and preserve for us, a written document called the Holy Bible? Was it so we would buy it and He would get a royalty? Was it for coffee table decoration? Did He give us the Bible to confuse us? The answer to these three questions is NO.

Obviously God gave us the Bible to read, understand and apply to our lives. Since the German printer Johan Gutenberg invented the printing press with moveable type, and on which the Bible was the first book printed, the Bible has been a best seller. Millions of copies in numerous versions are sold each year. But are people reading these Bibles they are buying and receiving as gifts?

Reading in the USA has fallen off drastically in the last few years. Back in 2004 the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) noted an alarming occurrence in the reduction of our consumption of books. Later in 2007 a study titled To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence, the picture is even darker. From data gained in two dozen studies the NEA concluded that voluntary reading for fun (i.e. reading not required) was declining at an alarming rate.

As far as I am concerned since the Bible is not “required or forced reading” in our society, it falls into the category observed by the NEA. Not only is the decline in Bible reading occurring among Christians; it is becoming less visible in Bible classes and pulpits—it is not being read.

Several years ago in a New York Times article, Steve Job is quoted as having said this about reading: “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception in flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Someone may ask, “Well how about all those sales of Harry Potter books and books sold when endorsed by Oprah Winfrey’s recommendation? The truth is these are only isolated examples; the larger picture shows we are not a reading nation. For example a first-year college student will spend an hour or less in doing reading that is not required for a class; even that reading will be more of a scanning than a real reading.

Back to our question: Why aren’t Christians reading their Bibles for the mere joy of it, and not just to lift out words to fill in the blanks in study books? Last Sunday in a textual study of First John I asked about 100 persons, how many of you read First John last week? Less than half held up their hands. In fact, some had not even brought their Bible to the study.

15 Reasons for Reading the Bible

God gave us the Bible not just to check off a daily reading chart, which is great, but for numerous reasons:

  1. Reading the Bible will make you wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15).
  2. Reading the Bible will help you know the truth (John 8:32).
  3. Reading the Bible will help you know if what is being taught is true (Acts 17:11).
  4. Reading the Bible will help you understand the will of God (Acts 8:30).
  5. Reading the Bible will equip you to teach and share God’s word (Matthew 28:18- 20)
  6. Reading the Bible will help you not to “live by bread alone but by every word from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
  7. Reading the Bible will help you know what you will be judged by in the judgment (John 12:48).
  8. Reading the Bible will help you imitate Jesus (Luke 4:16, “Jesus stood up and read”).
  9. Reading the Bible will help us obey the command given to Timothy to give “attention to reading” (1 Timothy 4:13).
  10. Reading the Bible will help us answer Jesus’ question, “Have you not read” in a positive way, yes (Luke 6:3). 1
  11. Reading the Bible will help us receive a blessing from the Lord (Revelation 1:3).
  12. Reading the Bible will help us know it so we can be “doers of the word” (James 1:22-24).
  13. Reading the Bible will help us in our quest to know our heavenly Father better (John 17:3).
  14. Reading the Bible will help us add to our faith, knowledge and other virtues (2 Peter 1:5-11).

  15. Reading the Bible will give us a positive, God honoring, thinking agenda (Philippians 4:5-9).

If these 15 reasons for reading God’s word are not enough to motivate you to want to read the Bible, take a few minutes and go and read Psalm 119.

12 Reasons Why Some Aren’t Reading the Bible

We need to ask another question: Why aren’t we taking time to read the Bible? There are several answers:

  1. We are in a hurry and don’t “have time” to read God’s word.

  2. There is too much information coming at us every day, we don’t want more from Bible reading.

  3. We feel like since we have obeyed the basics for salvation we don’t need to read for additional information.

  4. The preacher and Bible class teacher will read to me in class or from the pulpit; that’s all I need.

  5. There is a perception that there will be no consequence for not reading; so why  read if there are no “tests” or consequences.

  6.  I have a Bible and can look up answers or passages if I need to.

  7. Some don’t read because they are poor readers or have never liked to read; the Bible is no exception.

  8. Think the Bible can’t be understood or it is too boring to spend time reading it.

  9. Reading the Bible is not seen as being very important in the scheme of their daily activities.

  10. They have not been challenged or encouraged to read the Bible; no emphasis in their congregation to read.

  11. They, especially men, are spending spare time, and even work time, playing electronic games on cell phones, lap tops, play stations, computers, iPods, etc. (Kids are starting at very young ages). Some are even so addicted that they play them during worship services or Bible classes.

  12. There is no emphasis in the family, past or present, on the importance of reading the Bible.

There are additional reasons why many Christians don’t read the Bible: these 12 are only a sampling.

12 Tips for Reading the Bible

Obviously reading the Bible is a choice; once you have made the decision to read your Bible here are a few practical tips:

    1. Designate a time for reading. You know your schedule and what will be the best time; be flexible.

    2. Start your schedule with 15-minutes of reading. This will be deliberate and meditative reading of a portion of Scripture. You may increase is as you develop the reading habit.

    3. Keep a reading log in which you record your reading and any questions drawn from your reading.

    4. If you are in a weekly Bible class try to read Scripture related to your class; do the same relative to the sermon.

    5. Do your reading in various translation of the Bible; this will help you understand certain portions better.

    6. Be attentive and alert during your reading; being too tired or lazy will hinder your comprehension.

    7. Don’t stop! Let Bible reading be a lifetime discipline; the more you do it the more you will enjoy and benefit

    8.  From your reading always ask yourself, what one intentional thing can I practice from these verses? This is the take away.

    9. There is also the challenge of sharing some of your reading with others; your excitement may encourage others to read the Bible.

    10. Consider making Bible reading a family practices; what better way for the family to bond.

    11. There are book clubs in some congregations where member get together and discuss book they have read, why not a Bible reading club? Reading—not study!

    12. Prayer for wisdom and a spirit of concentration relative to your Bible reading. The challenge is to decide to read the Bible and just do it.