I visited an inmate at Graterford Correctional Facility last week. He is not yet a Christian, but his daughter and I are praying hard, and that, coupled with the fact that "The Lord . . . is not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9), is formidable weaponry against his present blindness.
On this visit he told me that he had decided to read the Bible and that he had planned to start from the beginning, as one should when reading a book. But he had mentioned his intention to another inmate while out in the prison yard, and the other inmate told him it was a bad idea. If he started reading at the beginning, the other man said, he would soon come to a lot of stretches that were nothing but lists of names, and information about sheep and leprosy. Better to start with the action stories about kings, or the parts about Jesus.
This brought to mind something a godly person had once pointed out to me in the book of Revelation: In chapter one there is a blessing attached to anyone who simply "reads" Revelation. The text doesn't say you have to understand it (as surely you will not understand all of Revelation); it is enough that you take the words and syllables into your eyes and into your ears.
I believe that the Word of God is no ordinary word but has unique properties. Jesus said:
"The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63).
You and I take in all kinds of worthless things through the portholes of our eyes and ears, and they no doubt work on us subliminally to our harm, whittling away at our spirits. How much more will the Word of God lodge and embed itself and germinate and grow in our minds if we but take it in-regularly, obediently?
And I have to say, by way of postscript, that I really enjoy the mental image of two men in brown one-piece jumpers with yellow stripes walking in a prison yard and discussing the best approach for reading the Bible.