Reading the Bible When You Have No Time

busyModern life is busy and is predicated on busyness. You are not really successful or even really living unless you are busy. Between work, family, children, hobbies, church, television, time slips through our fingertips and we wonder where it has gone. So when pastors (like myself) say, “You need to be reading your Bible daily,” we can feel the collective eye roll and thoughts like this flashing across people’s mind: “Yeah, like I can fit that in too! Between Jimmy’s basketball practice, my doctor’s appointments, Suzy’s piano lessons, I will magically pull some time out of my hat in order to read my Bible.”

Our busyness has resulted in American Christianity being biblically anemic. Most Christians today do not even read their Bible daily or even weekly. Daily Bible reading is not just another hoop that pastors dream up to sadistically torture their church members; it is one of the primary means by which the Lord strengthens and empowers Christians to live the Christian life. With so many Christians reading the Bible so little, is it any wonder that so many Christians feel distant from God and powerless before temptations to sin? Reading our Bibles is too important to be set aside; we must find the time to read the Bible. Here are some helpful tips to help you read the Bible when you have no time.

  • Reading some Bible is better than reading no Bible. In January, well-intentioned Christians choose a Bible reading plan. Most Bible reading plans have you reading between 3-5 chapters a day so that you read through the Bible in a year. But these plans can also burden a Christian who has little time for Bible reading. My advice is read a chapter a day and don’t start in Genesis. Choose a Gospel or a New Testament letter. One chapter a day amounts to five minutes. Anyone can find five minutes to spare to read their Bible. If you were to read one chapter a day from your Bible, you will have read through the Bible in three years.
  • Choose a time that works for you. The traditional line is: “YOU MUST DO YOUR BIBLE READING IN THE MORNING!” This is good advice, but it does not work for everyone. Some people cannot cognitively function before 8 AM. Instead, choose a time that works for you. If it is the early morning, great. If it is at the end of your lunch break, that’s fine. If it is in the evening, fantastic. Just choose a time and stick with it. Consistency is more important than the time you actually pick.
  • Use an audio Bible. Remember reading some Bible is better than reading no Bible. If you have a commute, redeem it. Very little of what is on the radio is worth the time. The pop stations only play five songs. Talk radio is a bunch of old white men ranting and raving. Public radio is hit or miss. Redeem your commute by listening to Scripture. The YouVersion Bible app for the iPhone has audio Bibles built into the app that you can stream while you drive.
  • Use a digital Bible. This dovetails with the last bit of advice. If you have a smart phone (and odds are that you do), download a Bible app, such as YouVersion. Take five of the minutes you would use to scroll through Facebook or Instagram to read the Bible instead. Smart phones can be enormous wastes of time or they can be great advantages in our walk with Christ.

Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians to make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16) is as true today as it was when Paul penned those words. We must not bow to the idol of busyness and sacrifice our time on its altar. These tips ultimately boil down to one fact: our time is a gift from God to be used in His service. So let’s use our time wisely so that we will have enough time to read our Bibles and grow in our relationship with the Lord.