reading the bible

More than half of Americans say they wish they read the Bible more but fail to do so for several reasons, including a lack of time. That’s according to the latest release from the American Bible Society’s State of the Bible report, which shows that 52 percent of Americans wish to read the Bible more. Meanwhile, 14 percent of Americans say they increased their Bible use in the past year.

The report said, “Granted, this is a bit like asking, ‘Do you wish you exercised more?’ Wishing and doing are two different enterprises, but it’s still important to know the desire is there. And whatever we could do to increase excitement about the Bible, explain the language, or show where to start, it might move the needle a bit.”

Researchers asked the 52 percent who want to read the Bible more what prevents them from taking the plunge. The top four answers were “I never seem to have enough time to use it,” “I don’t know where to start,” “I don’t feel that excited about using it,” and “I find the language difficult to relate to.” One-fourth of Americans use the Bible at least weekly. Among that group, 72 percent say Christ is their most important relationship in life.

The report said regular Bible reading is directly tied to a person’s faith, saying, “The path toward the Bible intertwines with a spiritual journey into a deepening relationship with Christ. We remember Jesus telling Bible scholars that the Scriptures they studied actually ‘testify about me’ (John 5:39 NIV). It’s no surprise, then, that Bible use at any level — daily, weekly, or a few times a year — increases as people move forward in their relationship with Jesus.”

The survey also found that “Scripture-engaged individuals were shown to have the highest levels of persevering hope.” Scholars involved in the study created a Persevering Hope metric, including four questions measuring people’s hope levels. Responses helped researchers discern how increased Bible engagement impacts this measure. The results revealed that Scripture-engaged people averaged a score of 4.1, which “significantly exceeds the overall average.”

American Bible Society’s Chief Ministry Officer, John Farquhar Plake, said in a statement, “Positively, Americans who are Scripture engaged show significantly higher levels of hope than their neighbors. Although our society faces challenges on many fronts, the Bible provides hope and help to those who explore its truths.”

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