Tag Archives: Bible

You need time in God’s presence to study and pray

For many years I have loved this quote about Hudson Taylor the famous missionary pioneer (I recently re-read it here),

To him, the secret of overcoming lay in daily, hourly fellowship with God; and this, he found, could only be maintained by secret prayer and feeding upon the Word through which He reveals Himself to the waiting soul. 

It was not easy for Mr Taylor to make time for prayer and Bible study, but he knew that it was vital. Well do the writers remember travelling with him month after month in northern China, by cart and wheelbarrow, with the poorest of inns at night. Often with only one large room for [laborers] and travelers alike, they would screen off a corner for their father and another for themselves, with curtains of some sort; and then, after sleep at last had brought a measure of quiet, they would hear a match struck and see the flicker of candlelight which told that Mr Taylor, however weary, was poring over his little Bible in two volumes always at hand. From two to four A.M. was the time he usually gave to prayer; the time when he could be most sure of being undisturbed to wait upon God. That flicker of candlelight has meant more to them than all they have read or heard on secret prayer; it meant reality, not preaching but practice.

The hardest part of a missionary career, Mr Taylor found, is to maintain regular, prayerful Bible study.Satan will always find you something to do, he would say, when you ought to be occupied about that, if it is only arranging a window blind. 

Howard Taylor, from, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret.

4 Gospels = 1 Novel

Sometimes I wonder why Christians seem to know so little about the life and ministry of Christ? After all he is our Lord and Saviour so you might think knowing about him would be a priority. Many know about his birth and baptism, the feeding of the 5000, 4000, a few healing stories, the odd miracle, varied ideas about the crucifixion and resurrection and maybe a few more, though in most cases the details are usually patchy. Ask them to place things into a chronological order and for many it gets really tricky.

The four Gospels contain 28, 16, 24 and 21 chapters respectively. A grand total of 89 chapters.

Matthew has 1071 verses and 18345 words, Mark 678 and 11304, Luke 1151 and 19482 and John 15635. In total they have 3,779 verses which contain 64,766 words.

From my perspective it doesn’t sound like a lot, if I read a chapter every two days I could read the Gospels twice each year. It made me wonder about what the “average” reader might digest in a year of reading

Wikipedia reports that,

…novels can vary tremendously in length; Smiley lists novels as typically being between 100,000 and 175,000 words,[6] while National Novel Writing Month requires its novels to be at least 50,000 words. There are no firm rules: for example the boundary between a novella and a novel is arbitrary and a literary work may be difficult to categorise.[7] But while the length of a novel is to a large extent up to its writer,[8] lengths may also vary by subgenre; many chapter books for children start at a length of about 16,000 words,[9] and a typical mystery novel might be in the 60,000 to 80,000 word range while a thriller could be over 100,000 words.[10]

According to Amazon (as quoted by The Huffington Post) the median length of a novel is 64,000 words.  Specific examples include,

On the low end “Animal Farm” has 29,966 words. In the middle “Lord of the Flies” has 62,481 words.Whilst on the upper end of word count in novels, “Ulysses” has 262,869 words, “Middlemarch” 310,593 words and “War and Peace” 544,406 words.

I couldn’t find figures for reading all around the world but did find Pew Research data which suggests that 75% of  American adults (over 16 years) read at least one book last year. The median was 6 (the average 15).

What conclusions, if any, should I draw? What does this mean for a group, Christians, who are passionately committed to a written word (the Bible)? Are audio Bibles a good alternative?Are ebooks diminishing people’s power to read? Is the internet to blame?