Various studies and websites have demonstrated the importance and value of encouraging children to read for 20 minutes every day. It doesn’t seem like much, certainly when compared to average times spend watching television, playing on computers, and the like. However, the reality for many children is that it simply doesn’t happen.
Forgetting about children for a minute—what would be the value to adults if we spent 20 minutes a day reading? Let’s look at some stats…
People estimate we could read 1,800,000 words per year.
This is the equivalent of 28 average size books.
We could finish a book every two weeks.
We could cover a broad range of topics and interests.
Given that the Bible contains approximately 1,200,000 words, we could read it 3 times over 2 years.
Or we could read the Old Testament once, and the New Testament and Psalms twice each year.
Or we could read the whole Bible and more than 9 Christian books every year.
Or—if we read the Bible for an additional 15 minutes—then we could read the whole Bible each year, and at least one Christian book and one general book every month, and still have time for this blog!
Yes, I do know you can make stats say whatever you want, but even with a large measure of miscalculation and exaggeration, you can begin to see what just 20 minutes a day reading could achieve.
So why not take the 20 minute challenge?
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
My days are numbered. So are yours. There’s no point in denying it or ignoring it. It’s a fact we can’t overcome. What matters is how we choose to spend the days we have. Will we waste them away in meaningless trivia? Or will we make them count? My prayer is that I will number my days. Not literally count them down, because I don’t have sufficient information to do this. But understand deeply that they are limited, so that I use the time I have wisely.
I want my life to count for eternity, not by making a name for myself. It would soon be forgotten anyway. But by bringing honour and glory to God. By declaring his praises. By drawing people to his love and kindness. By showing people to the gateway of heaven, Jesus Christ. He alone is the way, the truth and the life.
In December last year, I celebrated a year since my cancer diagnosis in a rather strange and almost eerie way. I was invited to speak at the same conference I’d spoken at the year before. This was the conference I was attending when I was admitted to hospital. To tell the truth, I didn’t expect to be at another conference, let alone give the opening talk again. God had other plans! It seemed fitting to speak on Psalm 90. This is a psalm that highlights our weakness and mortality. It calls us to fess up to who we are, to get real about our limitations, and to make the most of the time given to us. There is a rawness to this psalm and it spoke powerfully to my circumstances.
I believe it speaks to us all and the wise course is to consider it very carefully. I recommend you take the time to read over Psalm 90 and ask God for wisdom to help you number your days.
If you would like to listen to the talk I gave on Psalm 90 at the 2012 AFES staff conference, you can listen or download it here.