The principal instrument of communication between God and humans is the Bible. It is inspired by God, and everything in it can prove beneficial to us. (2 Timothy 3:16) The Bible abounds with examples of real people who exercised their free will in deciding whether to listen to Jehovah’s voice or not. Such examples remind us why it is vital to listen to what the spirit of God says. (1 Corinthians 10:11) The Bible also contains practical wisdom, giving us counsel for times when we are confronted with decisions in life. It is as if God were behind us, speaking in our ear the words: “This is the way. Walk in it.”
In order to hear what the spirit says through the pages of the Bible, we must read it regularly. The Bible is not just a well-written, popular book, one of many available today. The Bible is spirit-inspired and contains the thoughts of God. Hebrews 4:12 says: “The word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and their marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” As we read the Bible, its contents pierce into our inner thoughts and motivations like a sword, revealing the degree to which our lives conform to God’s will.
The “thoughts and intentions of the heart” can change as time passes and as we are affected by our experiences in life—both pleasant and difficult. If we do not constantly study the Word of God, our thoughts, attitudes, and emotions will no longer be in harmony with godly principles. Hence, the Bible admonishes us: “Keep testing whether you are in the faith, keep proving what you yourselves are.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) If we are to continue hearing what the spirit says, we should heed the counsel to read God’s Word daily.—Psalm 1:2.
An important reminder for Bible readers is this: Allow enough time to assimilate what you read! In an effort to comply with the counsel to read the Bible every day, we would not want to find ourselves rushing through several chapters without getting the sense of what we read. While reading the Bible regularly is vital, our motivation should not be solely to keep up with a schedule; we should have a genuine desire to learn about Jehovah and his purposes. In this regard, we may well use these words of the apostle Paul for self-examination. Writing to fellow Christians, he said: “I bend my knees to the Father, to the end that he may grant you . . . to have the Christ dwell through your faith in your hearts with love; that you may be rooted and established on the foundation, in order that you may be thoroughly able to grasp mentally with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness that God gives.”—Ephesians 3:14, 16-19.
Granted, some of us by nature do not enjoy reading, while others are avid readers. Regardless of our individual disposition, however, we can cultivate and deepen our desire to learn from Jehovah. The apostle Peter explained that we should have a longing for Bible knowledge, and he recognized that such a desire may have to be developed. He wrote: “As newborn infants, form a longing for the unadulterated milk belonging to the word, that through it you may grow to salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2) Self-discipline is vital if we are to “form a longing” for Bible study. Just as we can develop a liking for a new food after tasting it several times, our attitude toward reading and study can change for the better if we discipline ourselves to follow a regular routine.