MiniZine: Reading the Bible (PDF download)

  • 8 May 2011

The quaint expression ‘quiet time’ is rarely used these days. According to recent surveys, it is also rarely practised. The once common habit of prayerful, daily Bible reading is only too rare these days. What has happened? And what (if anything) should we do about it?

If your problem is lack of self-discipline, the articles in this MiniZine will not suddenly transform you into a disciplined Bible reader. But, by looking at the motivation for reading God’s word, and by dispelling some of the misconceptions about how we should read it, these articles will renew your enthusiasm for doing so. They will also provide you with lots of practical ideas for making prayer and Bible reading a more regular part of your spiritual life.


  • The gospel and the quiet time, by Paul Grimmond
  • Why the Bible is like a newspaper, by Tony Payne
  • The Swedish method, by Peter Blowes
  • Discussion guide


Until I started mixing in Christian circles, the term ‘quiet time’ evoked memories of afternoon light filtering through half-closed blinds into classrooms full of small children with their heads on their arms—some fidgeting with boredom, others (like me) off in la-la land, sound asleep. As a Christian, I soon learnt to associate the term with regular Bible reading and prayer— although occasionally (I must confess) my quiet times have been somewhat reminiscent of those long-ago afternoon rest times.

When I was fairly new to the faith, my wise leaders extolled the virtues of the quiet time, always encouraging us to make sure we were regularly listening to God’s word and responding in prayer. “Ah,” I would reply, “but I stand here before you today as living proof that you don’t need a regular quiet time to mature as a Christian”. (Oh, the irony.) “Plus, Christ set us free from the yoke of slavery, so we mustn’t enslave ourselves to anything—including a legalistic daily quiet time.” (So mature.)

In this MiniZine, we put aside flimsy excuses and guilt trips, and instead reflect on the positive reasons for reading God’s word regularly. Paul Grimmond starts us off by applying the gospel to the quiet time. How does our response to the gospel shape our prayers and our habit of listening to God in his word? And what practical steps can we take to make prayer and Bible reading a more regular part of our spiritual lives?

To that end, Tony Payne shows us three important ways in which the Bible is like a newspaper, and Peter Blowes shares a simple but very effective method of reading the Bible with other people called, oddly, ‘The Swedish method’.

I pray these articles will spur you on to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16).

— Emma Thornett

What is a MiniZine?

It's not a booklet, or a leaflet, or a tract. It's not a full-sized magazine either. It's somewhere in the middle: a short collection of articles, in an economical, easy-to-read format, with a discussion guide included.

The aim is simple: to provide high-quality Bible-based input to help Christians encourage each other.

MiniZines are ideal for giving away, for starting personal conversations, and for small group discussion.