In 2013, Netflix began releasing episodes of programming simultaneously and the phrase “binge-watching” entered our collective vocabulary. Today, binge-watching is nothing less than a cultural phenomenon. With the rise of streaming media services such as Amazon Video, Hulu, You Tube TV and Netflix, it was recently discovered that 61 percent of subscribers binge-watch on a regular basis.1
To binge is to “indulge in an activity to excess”2 and I’ve certainly done my share of binging over the years. Perhaps it’s my drive to achieve or somewhat addictive personality that feels compelled to complete a 1,000-piece puzzle in one sitting or play chess for hours on end. I don’t often binge on food, although I do remember a time in college having my picture taken at a restaurant in Chicago for eating at a burrito the size of a football. My wife reminded me recently that watching three college football games in a row on New Year’s Day was a bit excessive as well. But maybe binging isn’t all that bad. Perhaps we simply need to redirect our binging? I know it sounds strange repurposing a word associated with gluttony but hang with me for a moment. There are some very famous “bingers” throughout church history.
If preaching an average of six hours a day, every day of one’s life (18,000 sermons) is considered excessive, then George Whitefield was absolutely a binge preacher. If praying for 63 ½ years for a friend to finally come to Christ is considered an activity in excess, then George Mueller was certainly a binge prayer warrior. In fact, countless stories can be found in the Bible of men and women who sought God for days and weeks at a time and did things that others might call excessive.
Certainly, our spiritual lives need rhythm as well. Our souls require regular times of prayer, regular meals from Scripture and daily times of refreshment from God but there seems to be a famine when it comes to God’s Word. Most followers of Christ haven’t had their fill of Scripture and when they do eat, it’s often nibbling on a few choice morsels or reading an online “feel good” verse that is passed on as a popular tweet or post. If we really believe the words of Christ that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4) then perhaps in 2019 it’s time to spiritually binge.
Instead of sitting down to watch four hours of football or binge-watching three of your favorite Netflix shows back to back to back, I wonder what it would look like to binge-read the Bible?
I challenge you to read the entire Gospel of John in one sitting. I’ve already done the math and it will only take you two hours. Better yet, read all four gospels in one day (8 ½ hours to be exact) and take in the entire story at once. Need to connect with God? Rather than 15 minutes of quiet time, what if you were to get away for an entire day of prayer? Create a space for worship where you linger in God’s presence, all night.
I’ve heard much teaching on fasting, but very little on binging. Maybe it’s time to binge.
1West, Kelly. “Unsurprising: Netflix Survey Indicates People Like To Binge-Watch TV”. Cinema Blend. Retrieved February 12, 2014.