Dear Theophilus: On Reading the Bible

Posted on September 04, 2018  in  [ Theology & Ministry ]

Dear Faculty,

How can I find time to study the Bible more with all the distractions of the day?

Sincerely,

Theophilus

Dear Theophilus,

Your question is common for our times. As I speak to others, there is definitely a pace to modern life that makes it difficult to consistently practice spiritual disciplines such as reading the Bible. A typical family with kids wake-up early to an alarm, scrambles to get ready and out the door for school and work, rushes from work to after school activities and gathers back at the house to finish homework in the evening and prepare for the next day.

Besides the busy schedules, add the distraction and noise of technology ringing and buzzing demanding responses to text messages and social media notifications. On top of all of that, there are just so many shows in our Netflix queues!

I don’t think that I would find much argument that the pace and the level of distraction in modern life is at an all-time high. The technology that was created with the promise of more leisure time, has multiplied the distractions keeping us from contemplative habits such as Bible study.

Answering your question will require some reflection on your part, focused on your schedule and time management. It may be worth completing a time management log for a few days to get a snapshot of your time. This can be very enlightening and may reveal obstacles very different from your initial perceptions. That said, the following are some strategies for overcoming the most common distractions or limitations.

You may need to make time. If you were to complete a time management log and you used it to identify your values based on time spent, what would it reveal? Perhaps it would reveal a high priority on youth sports, money-making, or TV watching! These may all be fine things in proportion, but you may need to put some limits or cut back on the amount of time and energy devoted to certain things if you do value a spiritual discipline such as Bible study.

You may need to find time. While many of us scurry about lamenting how busy they are, taking an honest look at your time management may reveal the time is there. It’s just wasted! Some may say they don’t have time to read the Bible but finish each day watching 2-3 hours of television. In this case, you could gain a whole hour for study and still watch your favorite show! Identify the areas where time is being wasted. The major culprits will likely be social media and television.

You may need to redeem time. I spend at least 2 hours per day commuting. That is a huge chunk of time that I cannot do anything about without moving or changing jobs. I could complain that all of that time is lost, or I could redeem it. Rather than staring at brake lights, I choose to listen to the Bible on audiobook. I use this as an example of taking advantage of time otherwise lost. Do you find yourself waiting while your daughter has softball practice? Perhaps you could redeem that time reading your Bible. Do you have breaks or dead times at work? Rather than losing these times, redeem them.

You may need to schedule time with others. There is no biblical law demanding you read your Bible in solitude. In fact, the early church gathered to hear the Scriptures read. Consider finding study partners. I know many who gather together before work, during lunch breaks, or in the evenings to read and encourage each other with the Bible. This also has the advantage of discovering insights or answers you may not glean in solitude.

These are some ideas, but they are not the only ideas. Consider what is distracting you or keeping you from studying the Scriptures. This will help you to find the best way forward. The key is to get started.

Have your own theology questions? Get your questions answered by emailing cotblog@gcu.edu using the subject line “Dear Theophilus.” To learn more about GCU’s College of Theology visit our website or use the request more information button at the top of the page.

Brett A. Berger, ThM

Brett was born and raised in Arizona. He completed an MDiv from Phoenix Seminary and a ThM from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. His academic interests include biblical theology and ethics. He and his wife of 17 years, Audra, have three boys. He enjoys coaching their football and baseball teams.

Learn more about Brett A. Berger, ThM

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