To read Scripture daily is a good thing (2 Timothy 3.16, Romans 15.4, Mark 13.31, 1 Peter 2.2, Psalm 119.130).
There isn’t, as far as I can see, a daily amount that we must read. Other faith traditions may impose an “expectation” on their adherents, but, for those born again by faith in Jesus, a daily commitment to read the Word and to hear from God through His Word, is something we want to do.
So, how much is enough? Should I read a certain amount every day? Let’s see.
Charles Spurgeon said the following:
“Some people like to read so many [Bible] chapters every day. I would not dissuade them from the practice, but I would rather lay my soul asoak in half a dozen verses all day than rinse my hand in several chapters. Oh, to be bathed in a text of Scripture, and to let it be sucked up in your very soul, till it saturates your heart!”
(1882, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit: Sermons)
Reading multiple chapters a day isn’t a bad thing, neither is reading a few verses. The fact that we’re daily in the Word is the most important thing. There’s no minimum daily, weekly, or yearly quota that we must read … and there’s no maximum allowed either! If you have a Bible app on your phone, you can usually set it to deliver a “verse of the day” to your home screen. Often memorable, stand-alone truths, this kind of Scripture intake can really help with “soaking in Scripture,” as Spurgeon says. We have a truth there, at our fingertips, to see over and over again each time we pick up our phones (which, research has shown, is on average every ten minutes).1 When we read for quality, we should think on that truth throughout the day. We should repeat it to ourselves throughout the day. Quality reading is about a truth truly taken in, not just quickly taken in.
If you’re in a season of soaking, my counsel would be to not allow this to be a permanent state. Don’t allow yourself to perpetually exist on the crumbs of such a glorious meal. If you’re soaking in the quality of just a few words each day now, plan ahead to take a deep dive into something new soon. Plan to devour books, sections, or even Testaments like never before. Enjoy the quality, and look ahead to the quantity.
As we read above, some people like to read so many … chapters every day. I’ve had seasons where I’ve found myself drawn to reading through certain books of the Bible; maybe I’m teaching a passage soon and want the big picture, maybe things are happening at home that I think a specific book would speak into. Either way, sometimes we are drawn to more, and then reading a higher quantity of Scripture daily is what we need. Different books and different sections of our Bibles are hard to really understand in small pieces (the history books, for example) and so we do need to consider them as they come: as a whole.
If you’re in a season of ploughing through the Word, my counsel would be to make sure that your reading is deep enough for it to produce fruit. The witness of “Yeah, I read five whole chapters a day…every day!” mixed with a decidedly un-Christian lifestyle is not a good look. It’s also inconsistent with the commitment you have made to taking in the Word. If you’re working hard at taking it in, make sure you’re letting the Word work in you (James 1.22-25).
So, Quality or Quantity?
There’s no hard and fast answer to this; it’s a personal, situational, and seasonal response. The bottom line is that, as believers, we should be daily in the Word. If that’s a passage or a paragraph, a whole book or a bite-sized chunk, being in the Word is one of our everyday essentials.
I believe that God wants us to be continually sanctified, to be daily made more like Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5.23, Galatians 2.20, 1 Corinthians 6.11, Romans 6.6, Hebrews 13.12, and many more). In John 17, Jesus is recorded as praying for His disciples to be set apart in the truth. He then says that God’s Word is truth.
To be sanctified, to be set apart in the truth,
we have to be in the Word.
I’d love to hear from you about your Bible reading: Are you in a season of quality or quantity?
Let me know!