It’s hard to imagine plants growing without water, infants growing without food, or Christians growing without the word of God, but a 2012 study conducted by LifeWay Research and featured in Christianity Today found that only about 20% of self-identifying Christians said they read the Bible daily. A more recent Christianity Today survey found approximately the same situation.
Considering the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 4:4, the survey results are surprising; yet they were carefully carried out and agree with other recent surveys which have also found a low level of "Bible engagement" among many Christians.
The LifeWay research surveyed almost 3,000 Protestant churchgoers and discovered that while some 90 percent “desire to please and honor” God in everything they did, only 19 percent actually read the Bible every day. This number was almost the same as the percentage of Christians who said they “rarely or never” read the Bible, leaving a full 60% of people who fell somewhere between the extremes of daily or rarely looking at God’s word. Of these, about 25% indicated they read the Bible a “few” times a week, 14% said they read the Bible "once a week" and another 22 % “once a month” or “a few times a month.”
Using the simple analogy of physical nutrition, as we find in Matthew 4:4, we would have to conclude that while about 20% of Christians are well nourished, the majority are actually malnourished and many are starving. While physical malnutrition and starvation are almost always beyond the control of the individual affected, it is clear that – for whatever reason – spiritual malnutrition and even starvation are normally self chosen.
We pray for those in various parts of the world who do not have the word of God readily available, but it is sad to think that we should perhaps also pray for the great number of those in our own society who do have the word available, but who skip spiritual meals, don’t eat for long stretches or even slowly starve. The Lifeway and Christianity Today surveys should be reminders of our ongoing need for spiritual nourishment.