In Brad Waggoner’s Shape of Faith to Come (2008), he highlights the importance of the daily discipline of reading the Bible. Waggoner calls it “daily Bible engagement,” and he claims it is the number one predictor of a person’s spiritual growth.
What is meant by “daily Bible engagement”? Does it include reading the Bible every day? If so, how much do we read? And what kind of reading—devotional, inductive, or some type of meditative practice? Let’s look at each word in the term “daily Bible engagement” to get a handle on what this practice actually entails.
- Daily: Implies a discipline much like exercising, brushing teeth, or eating a certain number of calories every day. Marathon runners train regardless of the weather. Should we be any different when it comes to our spiritual training? Marathon runners know they must diligently train daily if they want to finish the race, and finish it well. Paul compared spiritual discipline to the discipline of boxing, making sure he took care of himself so he would finish well (see 1 Cor. 9:27)
- Bible: Implies valuing God’s Word, not the thoughts of great philosophers, leaders, or theologians. Think about how many times we equate reading what others say about the Bible with reading the Bible. The ideas of others can be helpful, but they must not replace God’s Word. Here’s a test: When you are asked what you think about a subject, do you quote a recognized Bible teacher, or do you quote a Bible verse in your response? If you quote a recognized Bible teacher more than the Bible, you might want to evaluate whom you really view as the authority (1 Cor. 1:12-13 is instructive here).
- Engagement: Implies participation in the act of reading, studying, and reflecting on God’s Word. Synonyms include engrossed, immersed, captivated by, and wrapped up in. Ezra returned to Jerusalem with one goal in mind. We are told that he had “determined in his heart to study the law of theLord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10, CSB). Before he could teach it, he had to study and obey it—and to me, this defines engagement. Engagement is more than simply reading one verse, followed with an instructive devotional paragraph that somehow connects to the Scripture. Rather, daily Bible engagement is the thoughtful study of God’s very words, as we seek to align our lives with the character of God.
Not all conversations are created equal. After some, you could repeat what was said, but you really don’t plan to do more than that. Yet there are other conversations where you are so engrossed that you can not only repeat what was said verbally, but also repeat it in your lifestyle. This is what it means to be engaged—the difference is not the conversation, but what you do with the conversation after it is over. The same is true when it comes to the Bible. We must become disciplined in approaching the Bible with the intent of engaging it so we can live a life that honors the God who loves us.
How would you define “daily Bible engagement” in a single sentence? What actions do you take to make sure you are engaging with the Bible daily? How can you encourage others to do the same?
We will try to answer this last question in our next two blog posts.