Do we need to read the Bible six hours a day? Less?
ESV - 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
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Two verses come to mind: Joshua 1: 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. And Psalm 1: 2 But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. ("they" being the righteous) The Lord is commanding Joshua to meditate day and night and David is telling us that the righteous delight in meditating on it day and night. God is very clear in His promise: "Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do." Can we get a better promise than that? But it is on the condition of establishing a daily discipline of doing it, "only then", will we reap what was promised. That being said, we could read as little as one verse each day and meditate on that verse all day long. For example, Philippians 4: 6 is a great verse to meditate on. It says "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done." But if we read a little further, it gets even better... "7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." So it pays to consider the surrounding text to get the context and in this case the reason why you want to answer worry with prayer. To answer your question, one could read as little as a verse a day and meditate on that, but what I recommend is read at least a chapter a day and go from there. For someone new to reading Scripture, it can be confusing, frustrating and even overwhelming. So I suggest that they just read a little, like a chapter, or maybe even a half of a chapter, because certain parables don't take up the whole chapter and a parable can be enough to feed off all day and that can be easily remembered. What's MOST IMPORTANT is that you pray before you read. Ask God to open your heart and eyes, expecting Him to feed you. Then pray about the text you read that you might learn from it. He will guide you accordingly. God will be pleased and honored by this small amount of study and if you persist and are faithful in this, I promise you that God will give you a greater desire to read and you'll read even more. It might start out slow and sometimes not even fruitful, but believe me, give God the time that you have and He will bless you when you are faithful to Him as you continue reading His Word daily. When I met my spiritual father, he told me that he had read the bible diligently for 30 years and it hasn't gotten old. Eight years later, after following in his footsteps, I found the same to be true. You can read the Bible all you want and it never gets old. So, in summary, I suggest that you commit to reading a chapter (or maybe half) a day and maybe just read through the New Testament, or follow a reading plan, there are many out there. The important thing is to read something! May God be with you in your efforts to seek Him through His Word!
I would add one additional text to Mr. Pitman's answer: Deuteronomy 6:4-9. However, all three of these texts speak of meditation, not reading, and there is a significant difference between these two activities. There is a dietary law that applies to this. Most Christians forget that every law God gave to Moses is a prophecy of the plan of salvation and that all are symbols of some greater spiritual truth. The dietary laws are nothing less than laws governing the study of God's word. That is not to say you would not have a more fit and healthy physical body if you kept these laws in their physical form, but a well fed physical body is of little use to you if you do not have a well balanced diet for your soul and spirit. It is more important to apply these laws spiritually. Leviticus 11:1-8 tell you what beasts of the field are clean to you. First they must split the hoof. This speaks of the law of double witness. There are a number of idioms that speak of where things contact the ground and they always refer to proven fact. These animals establish fact by two witnesses. This is the basis for the so-called scientific method, which requires two independent test to establish anything as fact. God established this principle in Gen 41:32, Deut 17:6, Deut 19:15, Matthew 18:16, John 8:17, 2 Cor 13:1, 1 Tim 5:19. Secondly these beasts must chew the cud. The biological term is rumination. This same word is used for meditation so the spiritual principle is well established and is used in secular circles even more than it is in the church (sadly). Our spiritual food is not clean without meditation. We can graze (read the Bible) all we want, but if we do not chew the cud we will die of (spiritual) malnutrition. Check the text in Joshua 1:8 -- "Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do." Meditating on God's word day and night means you will be considering what you have read at some time in the past and seeking for the proper way to apply it to the situations you are facing to see how God would handle them. It is less about how much you eat and more about what you eat and the meditation you do with it. If you read something today that has nothing to do with the experiences God sends your way it is of less value to you than something that applies to the things you do in the course of your day. As you learn more of God's word it will be less about how much you read every day and more about how accurately you determine what portions of God's word apply to what you are doing right now and how it applies. You may need to go to the word to make certain it says what you think you remember it says, and you will find errors in memory and errors in understanding, both of which will need corrected, but it is this meditation that makes the "food" of benefit to you.
At the time the Scriptures were being written, and for centuries afterward, daily Bible reading was either impractical or impossible. The average person had no access to hand written scriptures which were severely limited in number. And he was often barely literate even if he did. Therefore, reading the scriptures was during public worship time. Consequently, there was a greater emphasis upon teachers who could read the scriptures to the people. The people were then obligated to obey what they heard.
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