Brothers, Fight For Your Life

Here is an excerpt from a book entitled “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals” by John Piper.

This is part of chapter ten. Reading this part has provoked and pierced me many times through.

It deals with the importance of healthy reading. (Ughh, I want to read more… Why can’t I just do it???? Piper has a few tips…

Brothers, Fight for Your Life

Few things frighten me more than the beginnings of barrenness that come from frenzied activity with little spiritual food and meditation. If you want to stay alive to what is great and glorious and beautiful and eternal, you will have to fight for time to look through the eyes of others who were in touch with God.

One of the most helpful discoveries I have made is how much can be read in disciplined blocks of twenty minutes a day.

Suppose that you read slowly, say about 250 words a minute (as I do). This means that in twenty minutes you can read about five thousand words. An average book has about four hundred words to a page. So you could read about twelve-and-a-half pages in twenty minutes. Suppose you discipline yourself to read a certain author or topic twenty minutes a day, six days a week, for a year. That would be 312 times, 12.5 pages for a total of 3,900 pages. Assume that the average book is 250 pages long. This means you could read fifteen books like that in one year.

This astonishing discovery freed me from the paralysis of not starting great, mind-shaping, heart enriching books because I lacked enough big blocks of time.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean we should limit our reading to quick shots one or two times a day. Nor do I want to give the impression that I think there is virtue in reading many books. In fact one of my greatest complaints in seminary was that professors trained students in bad habits of superficial reading because they assigned too many books. I agree with Spurgeon: “A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books which he has merely skimmed, lapping at them.”

I can think of no better way to begin an early morning season of prayer than to mingle Scripture with a fifteen- or twenty-minute taste of Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections, or Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, or Sibbes’ Bruised Reed, or Baxter’s Saints’ Everlasting Rest, or Boston’s Fourfold State, or Burrough’s Christian Contentment, or Ryle’s Holiness, or Bridges’ Christian Ministry, or Brook’s Precious Remedies, or Flavel’s Method of Grace. It is amazing how many pastors, immersed in contemporary reading on management and leadership and church growth don’t even know such treasures for the soul exist.


Brothers, fight for you life. Fight for your mornings! Protect those life-giving hours! But also gather up some of the vanishing moments, venture a new kind of daily discipline, and read the great life-giving books of the centuries in twenty-minute blocks.

Action Step: Think about which classic masterpiece you’d like to master first. Mark your scheduled blocks of reading. Be disciplined. Be blessed!

Piper, John, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002.

For me, I am reading “Knowledge of the Holy.” It’s a chunky book, but it’s about time my mind and heart has some real meat! What has helped me is reading one chapter a day. Have any tips or thoughts? What about Bible reading plans?

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