Bible Reading Formula
The Bible. As Christians we claim to believe it is the very words of God. Yet I wonder how many of us give it the priority that belief would require and deserve. I know I wrestle daily with the gap between my stated beliefs and my actual down-to-earth, part-of-my-real-life practice. So how do we begin to put this belief of ours into practice?
The first and most obvious way of showing that we really believe this book is the Word of God is to read it. Daily, faithfully. Read, read, read. I don't know about you, but sometimes a long chapter can seem daunting and too time-consuming. And reading a whole book of the Bible at once?? Well, who does that? Because the Bible has been conveniently broken up into chapters and verses, we usually read one chapter and feel we've done our duty for the day. Now there's nothing wrong with that, but often we lose the continuity of what the whole is saying. We miss the big picture.
In an attempt to challenge my own propensity to feel that reading larger portions of the Bible can take too long, and because I like numbers and details, I decided to time how long it actually takes to read whole books. At the time I started this timing idea, I was studying the book of Titus, a short three-chapter book. Why would I/we only read one chapter when the book is so short? And besides, I was having a difficult time putting the whole book together; in my mind it seemed to be a random assortment of pasted together ideas. So I began to read the whole book in one sitting—and time it. It took about 7 minutes.
Seven minutes. What a very small amount of time! Yet how often do I give Bible reading that much of my day? Timing the reading of Titus led me to time other books. Here's what I discovered by reading lots of different chapters and books out loud while timing the reading: on average, 6-7 verses can be read aloud in one minute. Using a 6-verse-a-minute divisor, you can do the math and come up with the approximate amount of time it will take to read any chapter or book of the Bible: add up the number of verses, divide by 6 = how many minutes.
The book of Romans takes approximately an hour and a half. I discovered that when we were driving one Sunday morning to north Seattle when my husband had to speak at a church there. Since we lived more than two hours away, I was able to read the whole book to him with time to spare on that trip. Hebrews takes about an hour and 15 minutes. I John, about 20 minutes. Psalm 119, that impossibly long chapter? Each section is 8 verses long; and because the verses are relatively short, it only takes about one minute to read each section and there are 22 sections.
So who cares about this math formula, # of verses ÷ 6 = minutes? Well, through that formula I began to realize that my sense of feeling overwhelmed by reading a whole book or more than one chapter was a trick of the enemy of my soul, a lie, to keep me from investing in the greatest treasure in the world. I/we have no problem at all investing 20 minutes of our day into facebook scrolling or giving an hour and a half of our evening to watch a movie. But reading the Bible?? We think we've done really well if we get one chapter in. I don't know about you, but suddenly I began to see the discrepancy—the gap between what I say I believe and my actual practice. Do I really believe this is the Word of the Living God? Do I believe it has the power to transform my life?
It's time I invest more of my time into the Book.