No verse is in a vacuum, and it is important to always read a passage as part of the larger story.

Why Have Americans Stopped Reading the Bible?

Ask the average American on the street if they read the Bible, and after they stop looking at you like you just came from another planet, they will probably say “No.”  According to the Center for Bible Engagement, 93% of Americans say they own a Bible but less than half of those who identify as Christians have said they have read it cover to cover, and most Americans admit to never having opened one at all.

 Why have Americans Stopped Reading the Bible?

 The Center For Bible Engagement conducted an eight-year, one hundred thousand person (ages 8-80) research study on what activities and habits associated with a Christian life actually impacted the way people live. The potential options included reading the Bible, praying, going to church, listening to Christian music, or watching Christian media programs.  But of all the activities that actually changed a person’s life, it was Bible reading that had the most positive effect. In fact, 4 days or more a week was the tipping point. Those who read their Bible one to three times a week had little to no change in their choices nor did it change the direction of their lives differently from those who never read the Bible. And, although most people pray, prayer didn’t have nearly the impact of 4 or more days a week of Bible reading.

Why do we have so much difficulty finding time to read the Bible? The number one reason cited for not reading the Bible regularly (four or more times a week) was that we are too busy, and the second biggest reason was that we are too distracted.

What are we engaging in instead?

We are engaged in media and entertainment. We’re reading books, engaged in social media, and we’re spending hours searching the internet for solutions to life’s issues. We live on our smartphones and are distracted by reality TV shows, video games and anything that will divert our attention from thinking and confronting our problems. We use business for as excuse when in reality we’re filling our vacant time and loneliness with digital noise. The iGen population (24% of Americans) spends less time with real people and more time with screens than any other time in history. There is such a wealth of information at our fingertips that an individual can’t keep up and chooses group opinions and choices driven by popular and social media platforms instead.

How can we turn it around?

It takes courageous choices. It takes recognizing our need for a higher power - God in our life. Sadly, we don’t stop to take the time to engage in Bible reading unless a disaster strikes. Then, we often end up making poor choices because we have no firm foundation of faith to stand on. We know God’s name but don’t know Him intimately. If we’re smart and willing, we don’t wait for life’s uncertainties to strike. We should invest our time four or more times a week in Bible reading. We schedule time for our golf game, gym time, therapist sessions, and our kids play dates, so isn’t it time we schedule God time and get serious? The CBE’s study proves that it works and dramatically brings positive changes into a person’s life.

 Will God deliver if we prioritize Bible reading?

 The research tells it all. The CBE found that if a person engages in the Bible four or more times a week their odds of drinking in excess fell 62%, pornography viewing and sex outside of marriage fell 59%, gambling decreased 45%, gossiping and lying 28%, and even overeating and mishandling money fell 20%. Bible engagement also produces more peace and joy in a person’s life, by reducing the frequency of various emotional struggles. The Bible tells us in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (NIV).

When will you begin to choose the wisdom of the Bible for the challenges you face? I challenge you to try it 4 or more times a week and watch your life change.

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About the author

Kathleen Cooke’s new devotional “Hope 4 Today” encourages readers to engage with God. As co-founder of Cooke Pictures (cookepictures.com) and The Influence Lab, she publishes a monthly newsletter (influencelab.com/women). Find out more at kathleencooke.com, or reach her on Twitter @KathleenRCooke

  • HpO

    Much thanks for this word of encouragement and “challenge”, sister Kathleen Cooke. “Of all the activities that actually changed a person’s life, it was Bible reading that had the most positive effect.” And so, “I challenge you to try it 4 or more times a week and watch your life change.”

    That was what I did in the first 5 years of being a believer and follower of Israel’s Messiah Jesus. I would say that “the most positive effect” of my bible study is the taking over of my mind by the mind of Christ; my putting of His on mine. And I started to think, too, like each of the writers of the gospels, epistles and revelation.

    One thing I don’t do, though, is consult commentaries, with the resolve that whenever I don’t understand what I’m bible-studying, it’s never the bible’s fault but mine. In time the truth will be revealed; just not now, not yet, and that’s OK.

    Nor do I seek to master biblical knowledge. It’s the other way around, actually. I see myself as a slave to the gospels, epistles and revelation, and behave accordingly around the bible. They’re the master, I’ve decided. Not me, and never me.

    • Jenia

      Praise God for those who read & meditate in the Word of God daily!
      And AMEN for: Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (NIV).
      Shalom!

  • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

    READ THE WORD PEOPLE, THIS BOOK IS LIVING, FLESHLY, SPIRITUAL. YOU KNOW YOU WILL NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE READING UNLESS YOU BECOME BORN-AGAIN!!!! WHY, YOU SAY, BECAUSE THE TRUE WORD OF GOD IS SPIRITUAL, WHEN YOU BECOME BORN-AGAIN AND THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES INTO YOUR VESSEL, THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND THIS VERY GIFTED BOOK OF OUR LIFETIME. READ THE WORD!!!!! THIS IS NO FAIRY BOOK. THIS BOOK WILL BRING NEW LIFE INTO YOUR BEING. I CHALLENGE YOU TO PICK IT UP AND TRY TO PROVE IT WRONG!!!!!GO AHEAD PROVE IT WRONG, SKEPTICS!!!!!! I DARE YOU!!!!!!

    FOR THE TRUTH YOU WILL BE TRANSFORMED BY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH!!!!

    DO YOU WANT THIS KIND OF CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE?????????????????????????????

    • HpO

      How come, brother Harry C Wigmore The Third? – your obituary for this guy wasn’t in ALL CAPS – “Gil Fann the greatest soul winner for the LORD Jesus…” Neither for this guy – “Brother Mance was a very close friend to Nancy and I. I remember how he would ask me to do research for his sermons on Sundays at First FWB Church, MHC.” Even when you got all excited, there were no ALL CAPS in your expression here – “Good job Light of Christ Church!!!!”

      • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

        I do not know who you are, but get a life!!!!! Gil Fann taught me how to lead people to Christ, I WAS HIS SILENT PARTNER FOR 2 YEARS. I LEARNED HOW TO WIN SOULS BY THIS BY GIL FANN’S TEACHING.

        But I see you have a real problem, 1. I do NOT GO TO LIGHT OF CHRIST CHURCH, I GO TO LIGHT OF LIFE CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        2. IF YOU ARE ALL CAUGHT UP WITH CAPITAL LETTERS, AND DO NOT LIKE LITTLE LETTERS, THEN YOU ARE A………………………………………UNLEARNED INDIVIDUAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

        • HpO

          You’re a frequent commenter at The JoCo Report, yet you can’t recall what you boasted in writing after reading “Smithfield Church Raises Funds To Dig 7 Wells In 7 Countries”, July 31, 2017?

          “Rev Harry C Wigmore III: Good job Light of Christ Church!!!! I am glad for your interest in countries overseas. … Our ministries here at Light of Life Ministries … have reached over 65 Pastors in Africa and Asia and we have access of 90,200 Trained Intercessors World Wide.”

          So, had you written in ALL CAPS at JoCo Report over there like you’re doing over here at Christian Week, you’d otherwise remember, then, you’re saying?

          Nah, I didn’t think so either. That’s no excuse for having “UNLEARNED” from the following apostolic rule for being a “Rev” in the first place, which I can only hope in my “UNLEARNED” state, better not stand for “Revenant” (what? – no, you look it up yourself) or all that noise coming from the car engine?

          TITUS 1:1 Paul, … 4 To Titus … 5 … Appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, … 7 … The overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, … not pugnacious, … 8 but … loving what is good, … self-controlled, 9 … so that he will be able both to exhort … and to refute”.

          • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

            I know for a fact that because you keep putting me down, that you are some type of religious nut that is caught up on himself. Do you even know how to have a close relationship with ABBA FATHER, LORD JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH, OR THE BLESSED HOLY SPIRIT? Oops, I wrote in Capital letters and it offends this religious nut!!!!!!!!!! Until you pay the price that I have and many of my friends that are true friends—-GO READ YOUR BIBLE, THEN YOU WILL LEARN TO RESPECT YOUR ELDERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Sezwho?

            Would you guys just stop it? If this kind of bickering is the result, who the heck would even WANT to read the Bible?

          • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

            You need to REPENT! ask JESUS come into your heart!!!!!
            The WORD OF GOD brings life not death!!!! So you do not want to read the Bible, OK, DO NOT READ IT!!!!! And if you end up in the LAKE OF FIRE—–
            YOU CANNOT SAY I NEVER TOLD YOU THE TRUTH.

            JESUS SAID: ” JESUS SAITH UNTO HIM, I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE: NO MAN COMETH UNTO THE FATHER, BUT BY ME.”

          • Sezwho?

            Repent of what? Reminding you to act more like Jesus, the AUTHOR of the book you are yelling at everybody to read?

          • Rev Harry C Wigmore III

            Repent of what, duh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
            REPENT OF YOUR SINS, INIQUITIES, AND TRANSGRESSIONS WHICH YOU ARE GUILTY OF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND FOR ALL PEOPLE WHO DO NOT LIKE CAPITAL LETTERS~~~~~~~~~~~IT IS EASIER TO READ, OOPS
            BUT MOST OF YOU ALL ARE YOUNG KIDS~~~~~~~~~~WAIT TO YOU GET OLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EVERYBODY SAYS CAPITAL LETTERS ARE YOU YELLING AT EVERYBODY, BUT THAT IS NOT TRUE.
            WHEN YOU GET TO MY AGE, IT IS EASIER TO READ!!!!!!!

            SO GO READ YOUR BIBLES
            ROMANS 10:17; “SO THEN FAITH COMETH BY HEARING, AND HEARING BY THE WORD OF GOD.”

            Deuteronomy 17:19; “And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the LORD his GOD, to keep all the words of this law and these statues, to do them.”

            John 5:39; “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

            Romans 15:4; “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

            Also one more verse taken from Matthew 11:29; JESUS SAID SOMETHING EXTREMELY IMPORTANT IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS VERSE(IT IS IN RED LETTERS) “……LEARN OF ME…….”

            NOW IF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH WAS US TO LEARN OF HIM
            YOU BEST BE DOING JUST THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
            THAT IS A COMMAND!!!!!!!!!!!

            SO BACK TO THE BEGINNING: READ YOUR BIBLES!!!!!! IT IS A LIVING, FLESHLY, WORD INSPIRED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT!!!!!!!!!!
            READ YOUR BIBLE, PUT THE WORD IN YOUR HEARTS AND IT WILL BRING LIFE INTO YOUR SOULS—–READ ABBA FATHER’S HOLY WORD OF GOD AND STUDY AND LEARN ALL THE PRECEPTS, LAWS, STATUES, AND ORACLES OF ABBA FATHER!!!!!

  • Dmember

    I’m more into my Bible now than at any time in my life because I can see the writing on the wall. Prophecy is coming alive for me when I watch all the happenings in the Middle East and America especially. The intense hatred for Israel (and the USA) by the Arabs, and the intense immorality in the USA. And who doesn’t see all the apostasy going on! (Apostasy means turning from faith to unbelief.) That is predicted in 2 Thes 2:3. Well, prophecy may be beside the point here but really, if you’re a believer, you should be most interested in these End Times and how God is going to sort it all out! Hallelujah to God for giving us his Word!

    P.S. If you’re my friend (and even if you’re not) and you’re not reading your Bible, you’re going to hear about it all from me. 🙂 Thank you for this good article!

    • Sezwho?

      Very insightful and inspiring. Thanks!

    • HpO

      Bible worth more than such pop prophetic value, though. It’s supposed to get you excited in seeing the Mystery of God being revealed more & more via the gospels, epistles & revelation. Who cares about Rapture, 3rd Temple, Israel, etc. etc. Glory will be in God in Jesus, and it’ll be Jesus glorified in God. One the King of kings, the other the Lord of lords. God & His Lamb. That’s what excites me about the bible, albeit a superficial invention of the Early Church Wolves I mean Fathers.

  • Sezwho?

    Thank you for the article. Although the 4x per week can become legalistic, it’s helpful to me knowing there is a threshold to shoot for…and I will see extra fruit for that additional effort.

    • HpO

      Per my 1st comment from 2 weeks ago, I did discipline myself in regular personal bible study. Was it burdensome and feeling like a chore? Yes. But it was the positive side to the discipline that won me over. The motivation to understand what was the original Christianity all about? Could I really see God and figure Jesus out? See, I was on a personal quest, and hope you’ll have one like it, too.

  • Falconspath@gmail.com

    People don’t read the bible anymore because most of them can’t find one. The example you give is from the n.i.v. or nutty idiots version. It removes over 65,000 words. Eve the book of life is removed in rev. 22. Why would anyone waste their time on such garbage as that there will be a lot of ashes at the. Bema seat.

  • Gj Vernon

    Never read so much bollocks in my life… the only person who can save you is yourself, otherwise you just become another brainwashed co-dependent!!