"For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12, CSB).
When we read the Bible, we meet God. And that changes our friendships and our families, our work and our free time, our churches and our cities. But making time to read God’s Word is tough. Fifty-seven percent of American adults want to read the Bible more — but how do they make it happen?
Here fellow believers who work closely with the biblical text on Lifeway's CSB (Christian Standard Bible) team share how they approach Bible-reading in their varying stages and seasons of life.
From Devouring to Spoonful Reading
My approach to Bible-reading is ever-changing. Life is full these days as a working mom with two kids under four.
I remember devouring the entire New Testament in two months the summer after I got my first Bible. I read from a lawn chair for hours, jotting down all the exciting things I was learning and all the questions I would later work through with friends. I’ve done inductive studies, read alongside study Bible notes, commentaries, theological books, sermon notes, and articles.
But my last four years have looked nothing like this. These days, I’m all about Bible-reading plans. I’m currently reading through the Bible in a year with a YouVersion reading plan. I listen to the audio while folding laundry, washing dishes, or hitting the treadmill. I go for the Bible in my glove box when I’m a few minutes early for preschool pick up. I read it on the app when my reminder buzzes at 9 p.m. And sometimes I’m even up before my kids to read in a more focused and undistracted way (by sometimes, I mean twice so far this year).
Don’t let me fool you, though. I’m an unmentionable number of days behind right now (like more than a month), which is pretty par for the course. Sometimes my kids are up at all hours of the night, and I just close my eyes in those in-between moments, leaving dishes stacked, laundry piles growing, and the Bible unopened. Sometimes, the Lord calls to mind a topic or passage that I just have to go check out, and I diverge from the plan.
But here’s the thing. I’ve come to realize that months and years start going by quickly. And I’m not going to just wake up someday and be a woman of the Word, growing in wisdom, and looking more and more like Jesus just because I’m getting older. It’s a day-by-day, long walk with the Lord. It’s a commitment to being in his Word — not merely for the sake of knowledge or box-checking — but to grow in believing it and applying it as I walk with him. Even if it’s a teaspoon at a time.
I mentioned the grocery list of ways I used to approach God’s Word, not for a pat on the back, but because I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I pored over Scripture when I had those long summer afternoons to myself. It has been invaluable in the years that followed. Even those passages and themes that didn’t seem to apply to me then — boy, when various circumstances and trials did show up, God’s Word became very real and alive. And now, when I only have the time and energy for a spoonful of Bible reading, there’s a well of Scripture in my mind to draw from.
Bible Reading Rhythms Throughout the Week
My Bible reading has gone through different phases in my life so far.
In college, I considered going to seminary after getting my undergraduate, so I decided to take some Bible classes. During these Bible classes, I would dig deep and consult different resources, so I could knock those papers out of the park!
A few years later, I had the opportunity to serve as a part-time middle school pastor. When I was preparing to teach my students on Wednesday nights, I was looking for my main point, how the text relates to Jesus, and then bridging the passage to my student’s lives. All can be wonderful in their own way.
Over the past year, I have transitioned off of church staff, and I have been able to take on more responsibility on the Bible marketing team. Time has been extremely precious during this season, which will only get busier, so Bible reading looks different throughout the week.
During the weekdays, I am shooting for a Psalm or small passage in the morning for a word of encouragement and to be reminded of the goodness of God before I jump into the day.
At night, I enjoy laying down in my bed and picking up where I left off as I read through the Bible in order from Genesis to Revelation. I try to take it slow and focus on connecting the words on the page to my heart. My main goals are to enjoy some peaceful solitude, see God exalted in the text, and prepare to live in obedience as the Words transform my soul. I am not worried about finishing in a year as long as it is quality time (I have rushed through way too many passages in my life). I try to keep it pretty simple.
Saturdays and Sundays are my favorite days. I have the luxury right now to have some pretty slow mornings on those days, so I take the read sleep approach. I wake up, read until my eyes get tired, fall asleep for a bit, wake up and repeat. There probably is some room to be more strategic on these days!
Wherever you are in your life, I hope that you find great hope and joy as you dive into God’s Word.
One Book at a Time With No Schedule
I’m a terribly disorganized person. Every single time I’ve ever started a reading plan, I’ve been behind within a week, and that’s made me run from reading the Bible.
That being said, one of the most fruitful ways I’ve been able to engage with Scripture is to start a book and read when I can. This means I read a few chapters of the Bible three days a week or so. On top of that, I try to find passages that I can meditate on throughout my busy week. Managing the CSB’s social media presence is pretty demanding right now, so whenever I get a moment to breathe, I try to dwell on a specific passage. I’ve been working through Job, so the current passage that I’m delighting in is Job 16:4-5: "If you were in my place I could also talk like you. I could string words together against you and shake my head at you. Instead, I would encourage you with my mouth, and the consolation from my lips would bring you relief. [Job to Eliphaz]"
That passage reminds me of Hebrews 4:14-16 when the author tells us that we have a high priest in Jesus who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and was tempted in every way as we are but did not sin.
I take these verses and meditate on them and make an attempt to apply them to my life: Christ would be totally entitled to speak down to me because He was perfect and absolutely better than me, but instead He chooses to encourage me and console me. So I can find rest in that reality, and I can choose, through His Spirit given to me, to do the same for others. I want to bring relief and encouragement to those in my life through my speech.
In a couple of weeks, I will meditate on a different passage, but I want to make it a discipline to consistently be dwelling on God’s Word, even when it feels impossible to spend substantial time in it.
A Seminarian Who Rebels Against Schedules
Working on the Bible team at Lifeway and being in seminary means I have a lot of interaction with the Bible on a daily basis, but interaction doesn’t mean heart transformation. Focused Bible reading for me is a discipline. It doesn’t come naturally, and I can easily make excuses since I work in the Bible so often, but it does become enjoyable and exciting the more I do it.
Personally, I rebel against a schedule that dictates sitting down at the exact same time every day for a “quiet time.” I don’t want my time with God to feel set apart from the rest of my life, or to turn in to something that is routine. I usually study the Bible sometime between work and bedtime, since this is the time of the day I am most unhurried.
In my time with the Word, I try to come in with as little agenda as possible and let the written Word speak to me. It can be challenging at first to know what to read, which is why I find study Bibles so helpful. I use both the CSB She Reads Truth and the CSB Ancient Faith Study Bible a lot. The extra content helps to guide me and expound upon the text.
I usually approach my time in the Bible by starting in the Psalms. This is kind of a biblical appetizer for me, setting my heart. If I don’t know where else to turn, I read the Psalm that corresponds with the date (i.e. either Psalm 3 or Psalm 93 for Sept. 3.) This reading in the Psalms will usually prompt me or remind me of a passage elsewhere in the Bible, and thus the journey begins.
Another way I approach Bible reading if I am stuck is to get out my sermon notes from church and reread the passage that was preached.
Bible reading doesn’t have to be routine or boring, and acknowledging that has really helped me. It’s your relationship with God, your time in the Word, and your choice to read the Bible. So make it your own!
How I Started Binge-Reading the Bible
Right now, my Bible reading looks like gulping down long passages, 5 to 25 chapters of the Bible at a time. It has taught me a lot — including that I’m probably never doing this again.
I’m a word person. I’ve written or edited most of the emails sent from CSB First to Know. Back at the end of last year, I read an article on a Bible reading plan for readers, and it challenged me to try reading the whole Bible as fast as I could by reading nothing else until I got to the end.
At first, that’s what I did. I spent evenings devouring Genesis and Exodus. I listened to a few chapters in the car while I drove to work. I fell asleep on at least one Sunday afternoon with Leviticus open in front of me.
I also came home many evenings too tired to read 20 chapters, so I didn’t open my Bible at all. When I was reading, I had to fight to be more aware of the richness of the words than of my progress across the pages. My race with myself was keeping me from sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet and believing He’s happy to see me.
Why I Recommend It Anyway
The all-or-nothing approach I’ve taken is not for everybody. I’m not even sure it’s for me — I’ve been slowing down and reintroducing some other reading. But I do recommend reading big chunks of the Bible.
When we read long passages of Scripture, we can see God’s covenantal love stretch across the chapters. Again and again, His people rebel, He disciplines, they repent, and He forgives. It could become banal, except that He is the holy Creator and Judge of the universe. In light of that, His forgiveness is absurd — absurd enough to reassure our own wayward hearts.
As we read how He instructs His people in the law and what He rebukes them for through the prophets, we see His priorities. We see how much attention God pays to our hearts, to real-life justice and to pure worship, not just to our religious practices.
Biographies of once-famous kings and warriors fly past like streetlights on a highway, their lives flickering into death, while chapters detail the lives of people like Abraham, Moses, and Elijah — flawed but faithful people who sought the face of God.
I’m in the minor prophets now (in case you were wondering why these are all Old Testament examples), and Revelations still feels far away. Maybe by the time I get there, I’ll want to do this every year, or maybe I’ll be thrilled to read more slowly again. But either way, this has given me a new appreciation for long-distance reading.
(Full disclosure: I wrote this a while back. Everything is still true, but I did shift to another reading plan and am not still in the minor prophets.)