I can still remember receiving my first Bible as a boy of seven or eight from my parents. It was a very special gift which I came to treasure. I can’t remember too much about my reading of the Bible in that time. However, quite early on in my life, I do remember our pastor challenging us to “read the Bible thru in ’62.” I accepted that challenge. I can’t remember what the slogan was in ’63, but in 1964, I remember hearing another, “once more in ’64,” which I also took seriously. Remarkably, those simple challenges put me on a Bible reading path that took me through the Bible every year for more than 40 years — three chapters every day, and five on Sunday.
By that exercise, over the years, I learned a lot about the various books of the Bible and how they related to one another. I was impressed by the story-line of the Bible and the clear sense of unity despite its many contributors. During my late teens, I grew immensely in my appreciation for various disciplines related to the Bible through an organization called, the Navigators. The Navigators began as a ministry of Dawson Trotman to American military servicemen during WW II. (As the story goes, Dawson Trotman was a young man consistently in trouble until he took the advice of a policeman to attend a local church youth group. There he discovered the wonder of faith in Christ and soon became a “burning firebrand” for God in his zeal to serve Him. It wasn’t long before a friend carried his enthusiasm into the American Navy — which resulted in the birth of the Navigators.)
One of the outstanding features of the Navigators was their emphasis on daily Bible reading, memorization, and the practical application of its truths. Through a six-week Leadership Training School at Timberline Ranch Camp near Haney, BC (now Maple Ridge), the Navigators had a huge part in helping me appreciate the value of meditation in the Holy Scriptures. Through a program called, The Topical Memory System, I memorized 108 key Bible verses, topically. That exercise has proved invaluable throughout my life and Christian ministry practice.
But after reading the Bible through many times, I came to the conclusion that I was often more intent on “getting it done” then really taking the time to chew on it smaller bites. The experience was methodical but not necessarily always dynamic. I think it was a personal crisis in Christian ministry that forced me to consider how I could read the Bible more intentionally to really hear God’s voice. I needed an emotional encounter with God that was more than academic. I knew it would mean deeper meditation and prayer in each verse of the Bible. So I took more time to focus — sometimes spending several morning readings on one chapter.
This process has now developed into a pattern in which I begin the day, every day, with reading a chapter in sequence from one of the five Poetical Books of the Bible (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes). Sometimes, as I mentioned, I will spend a couple of days or more on one Psalm or section of Proverbs, etc. Additionally each morning, I read one more chapter, daily alternating between a sequence in the Old Testament and the New. (Right now, for example, I am in Zachariah in the Old Testament, and in Revelation in the New Testament.) The variety, overlap, and cross-referencing is fascinating. Every day, it seems, God is speaking to my soul. That part of my “quiet time” takes about 1/2 an hour (sometimes more or less), and then I have 20-30 minutes to spend in prayer (over a list that also is divided between the days of the week on my iPhone) — all before I do anything else.
For the past several years, I’ve been blessed to be able to do most of my Bible reading and mediation through the use of the You-version Bible App which I have on my cell phone and iPad. This App is amazing because it is easily accessible and comes with dozens of different Bible versions, many of which also have a recorded voice reading the selected passage. The App also offers versions in more than fifty languages. So, if you’re looking for a way to strengthen your daily time of Bible mediation and conversation time with God, I highly recommend this App.
One other note about You-Version, that many people don’t know about, is a related App called, the Bible for Kids. It consists of about 50 animated, interactive stories from the Bible, especially prepared for kids. Kids love it because it allows them to see various actions when they touch the screen. I have often used this in helping our younger grand-children gain an appreciation for the stories of the Bible — all the way from Genesis to Revelation.
So if you are one who has been wondering how Bible reading can become more of a real encounter with God everyday, I hope these ideas are helpful. Because remember, Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).