While Emily and I were doing her bedtime Bible reading a couple of nights ago, we came across the passage in Acts, well-known in evangelical circles, about the Berean Jews, who were more excellent because they “searched the Scriptures” to see if what Paul was saying about Jesus was really true. Apparently the synagogue regulars in Berea would listen to the expositions of Scripture and then check up on it through their own reading. As they saw the truth of the message in Scripture, “many of them believed” (Acts 17:12).
It’s not the first place in Acts where Scripture plays a crucial part in the drama of changed lives. In fact, it’s pretty much the routine that this is so: God opens hearts to him as they are open to hearing his Word.
This is why we emphasize Bible reading so heavily: it is the means through which God has chosen to speak in a life-giving way. It is through hearing the Word that we are brought to God in Christ, and it is through the hearing of the Word that we are sustained day to day. It makes sense: relationships are about communication, and the Christian life is a relationship with God.
My morning time of Bible reading is very important to me. I notice when I miss it or, more often, when it gets pushed to another time. I’m not the only one who finds the morning to be the ideal time to listen to God’s word in private reading. It is, to me, the right way to start the day.
Why? Is there something magical about the morning? Of course not.
I am a morning person, so perhaps I should be clear that I am speaking only for myself. But as I think about it, the reason has less to do with the time of day than the quality of that time. If I get up early, and have the house to myself for a while before the kids get up and the morning routine begins, I find that I have a quiet heart, one that is receptive to what I find in Scripture. But if I wait until the day is underway—well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? The day is underway. I have a dozen distractions on my mind, deadlines to make, emails to send, people to call, jobs to get done. The quality of my reading is different. I’m in a hurry, more likely at that time of day simply to be going through the motions. In that state I am not being a very good listener. It’s not that the Bible or the God who speaks through it is different. It’s my attitude that’s different.
When I was a teenager, there was a man who attended our church whose life was changed when he came to know the Lord. He knew that life was different, and he knew that the Lord was the difference. He also recognized that hearing from God would come primarily from prayerful reading of the Bible. But he worked a long day, a day that started early: he was at work by 5:30 or 6:00 every morning, and wasn’t through until early evening. For most of us, that would mean the morning was a write-off for anything extra. But he wanted to start his day with his Father, hearing his voice, listening to the Lord’s words about who he now was in Christ. So he would get up at 3:30 or 4:00 every morning to allow himself an hour to read the Bible. In the quality of both his devotion and his service, the results were easy to see. Whenever I’ve felt pushed for time when it came to Bible reading, I think back to that man, who knew where he would find life fresh for each day, and who despite his busy life, found a way to receive it.