Help for New Christians: Bible Reading – Part 2

Part 1 can be found at this link:  Bible Reading – Part 1

Welcome Back

Welcome back. I pray that you have been able to successfully make space in your daily schedule for Bible reading. As a new Christian, the exposure you gain now to God’s Word will reap benefits far beyond the simple investment of time and concentration which you are making. You see, God has so written the Bible in such a way that it accomplishes his great and glorious purposes, even in the normal patterns of life for everyday people. He molds you and shapes you through what you read in the Scriptures.It is a book which truly does change you for the better.

The Discipline

While I likely do not know you personally, here are some general ideas which may help you in your specific setting. Regular bible reading is a discipline. It is not as automatic as, say, breathing; but it needs to increase and elevate in your views as being critical for the growth and health of your faith in Christ (Deuteronomy 8:3). The world, the flesh, and the devil are all seeking in some fashion to bring you down and to destroy your faith and confidence in what Jesus has done for you.

In other words, you make time to eat, drink, and sleep each day to meet your physical needs. Similarly, you must make time in your schedule to spend time in the Bible to feed your soul and to strengthen your faith.

Making Space

Congratulations on starting the journey of regular Bible reading. You may have found it can be a challenge in today’s busy, fast-paced world to find good opportunities to read your Bible. If this is the case, I have some ideas to share which may help you make space in your day to spend time in God’s Word. I hope these will help you. There are a wide variety of new Christians, so I’ve tried to find suggestions that can help people in specific stages or stations of life. Young families, empty nesters, older adults; we all have our challenges and opportunities.

In Young Families

With children comes activity and energy: activity that goes in every direction, and energy that only runs out when the little ones drop off to sleep. What are parents of young children to do, when it comes to the discipline of regular Bible reading?  First, beware of setting unrealistic time goals. You will likely need to grab the Bible in snippets of time. Rare is the time for long, drawn out reflection in solitude. You can read it in much smaller chunks and still gain from spending time there, because it can feed your soul and provide real spiritual food for you to meditate on throughout the day.

Second, look for those small snippets of time. Perhaps nap time, or early morning or in the early evening after the children are tucked in bed. Each of these require intentionality, but they can be opportunities for some of you. Sieze them and learn from your God and Savior as you wade into the text. Lunch time, or windshield time may provide  precious moments to spend in communion with God through the text of Scripture.

Third, have you considered the idea of shared parenting as a means of ministering to your spouse by giving them time to spend in the Bible? What do I mean by shared parenting? Dad might take the kids to the park, so Mom can have a few minutes of peace and quiet as well as feeding on the Bible. While some families prefer a very distinct division of labor in raising the children, a little flexibility from both Mom and Dad can go a long way in building a solid spiritual base to stand on. Shared parenting will never be successful if it is a source of guilt or conflict within the family.

I urge you husbands to consider how you might bless your wife in her faith through helping her make space for regular Bible reading (Ephesians 5:25). Work hard at being motivated by love, without laying a guilt trip on either parent, and spend some time while you are together discussing what you’re currently reading in the Bible. You will not have mountain-top experiences frequently in the regularity of everyday Bible reading, but you will make progress growing in maturity (faith, hope, and love) as you are equipped by God’s Word. Ask your spouse what they are learning. It can be a very simple and stress-free conversation, which becomes even more natural with repetition.

For Empty Nesters

If you’re at the stage of life, as a new Christian, where youth has departed the home, it can be particularly challenging and depressing since the main focus of your energies for decades has been the raising of your children. This is a special time in your life to more directly reconnect with your spouse, as well as spend some time in God’s Word. Find opportunities to read the Bible together, or at least to discuss what you have been reading and learning. As an older new Christian, it may feel strange or out of place to talk about the Bible outside of church. That feeling will pass as you become more familiar with the Bible’s storyline and themes.

For Older New Christians

Opportunities overlap between stages of life, but each comes with its own challenges as well. My best suggestion for older new Christians: turn off the TV and open your Bible. Consumer entertainment is the bane of fruitful living in so many households today. I’ve been there… flipping channels incessantly as a way to burn through the evening hours. You get to bed with little true entertainment while burning precious years staring at the screen. Enough said about that.

Perhaps commute time could be used to listen to the Bible professionally read. Another opportunity that seems to rise in frequency as we age is extended illness. While you are down, you likely have time to read your Bible. We must be practical about our physical limitations and not commit to a level of reading activity that is impractical or impossible for you in such circumstances. You may have “smart home” gadgets which could read the text of Scripture to you, or find an online recording to stream at your request.

There are many more circumstances which Christians find themselves in. I’ll leave these suggestions here for now, and perhaps will return to the topic if I hear from readers informing me that I missed their particular boat.

The Best Time of Day

Opinions vary among Christian teachers whether there is a best time of the day for Bible reading, or even whether that is a consideration at all. As I mentioned when this series started, I am trying to design this to help the new christian find their feet as they begin what truly is a new life. In that vein, I will not recommend any specific time of day for you to read the Bible. You understand your own constitution, strengths and weaknesses far better than I can from afar. The main thing is that you find some time, each day, to read the Bible. Some have said that a new habit can be formed in as little as 30-60 days of practice. As a new Christian, you need to hear the voice of your Shepherd. You can and will find him in the Bible, which is the one source of accurate knowledge about him. Find a few minutes each day where you can listen to the voice of your master and learn to follow him in obedience, and even joyfully obey his commands. Spend time and your understanding and obedience will grow.

How Long

The regular length of time you spend isn’t as critical as the fact that you are actually in the Bible each day. As you begin reading a section in the Gospel of Mark, look ahead and see how long this chapter is. Decide what a reasonable goal would be for the length of reading, and try to ignore the clock as much as possible. If you can read through an entire chapter, great! Let the minutes pass as you drink in the text and seek to know your Savior. It may be necessary to read only a portion of a chapter due to time constraints or other factors. As I’m sure you have discovered, your existing necessary time commitments (spouse, children, work, parents & friends) already drive the decision of when you cannot read your Bible. Make spaces in your schedule. If needed, grab the little snippets while you are waiting in line or waiting for the kids at school to come out and get into the car.

I have more to say on the topic of Bible reading, but I’ll leave that for future posts. God bless you in your Bible reading. I know he will.