In his preface to the Large Catechism, Martin Luther anticipates the objections of those who think they are too learned, too wise, or too mature to daily read God's Word. In our time, we might certainly add the objections of those who are too busy or find Scripture too boring or whatever other objection might be raised. Ultimately, excuses are simply excuses.
Nothing is so powerfully effective against the devil, the world, the flesh, and all evil thoughts as to occupy one’s self with God’s Word, to speak about it and meditate upon it, in the way that Psalm 1[:2] calls those blessed who “meditate on God’s law day and night.” Without doubt, you will offer up no more powerful incense or savor against the devil than to occupy yourself with God’s commandments and words and to speak, sing, or think about them. Indeed, this is the true holy water and sign that drives away the devil and puts him to flight.
For this reason alone you should gladly read, recite, ponder, and practice the catechism, even if the only advantage and benefit you obtain from it is to drive away the devil and evil thoughts. For he cannot bear to hear God’s Word. And God’s Word is not like some idle tale, such as about Dietrich of Bern, but, as St. Paul says in Romans 1[:16], it is “the power of God,” indeed, the power of God that burns the devil’s house down and gives us immeasurable strength, comfort, and help.
Luther lumps together reading the Bible and reading the catechism for a couple of reasons. In his day, people would have been far more likely to possess a copy of the latter. Additionally, as anyone who has spent any time in the catechism knows, it is an explanation of the basics of the faith and is largely drawn directly from Scripture, so it is no stretch to say that one who reads the Catechism is reading Scripture.
In our time, many view devotional reading as "study" or a pursuit of knowledge about God instead of understanding it as a means of grace whereby our faith is strengthened, we are sanctified, and we grow closer to God. For the Christian, devotionally reading God's Word should not be primarily about gaining information, assembling facts, or even find application / principles to live by. While those are good in themselves, reading only or primarily to study as an academic endeavor misses the boat.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash