Daily Bible Reading. Biblical Literacy. Devotional / quiet time. There are a million and one resources out there I could present to you: reading plans, commentaries, websites, devotionals, apps etc. I will be sure to list some of those in the future, but, for now I feel led to make this post a very practical one.
Let me start by saying that I'm still learning. I certainly don’t have it all together, and I have difficult days in this arena just like anyone else. However, by God's grace, I am in a season where this discipline is more consistent in my life than ever before. I am humbled by my shortcomings and wandering heart, but I am oh so thankful for the tide of God’s grace in my life that is constantly pulling me back to His Word.
That being said, I want to share a 5 practical tips that help me stay consistent in my daily Bible reading. I hope they will be of some service and encouragement to you.
So, grab a pen and paper (or make a note on your phone), jot these down, and put them into practice!
Pray for a desire, hunger, understanding and an absolute love for God’s Word. This first tip is by far the most important, and I could really just leave you with that alone and I’m confident it would suffice. You may not see an instantaneous shift in our spirit by praying in this vein, but ultimately, it is a prayer that will be answered with a resounding YES.
"Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."
We need to communicate with God, being transparent with Him about the stance of our heart towards His Word. Are we intimidated? Bored? Feeling “too busy”? Not giving it the reverence it deserves? Tell God. He can handle it! After all, He already knows what’s going on in our spirit to a greater depth than even we know ourselves. Nevertheless, we must recognize it. When we come to Him acknowledging our need for help in this area, He will surely run toward us and guide us into His Truth.
One more reason prayer is so important is this: When we start to get serious about being in the Word of God, spiritual attacks are sure to come. Those attacks can come in a variety of forms, but ultimately the goal will be to keep us from studying the Bible. We will fall if we are attempting to operate out of our own strength. We need God to equip us to prioritize time in His word despite the attacks that will come.
2. Have a Plan.
Planning is key. Where in the Bible you will be studying? Consistency is not likely to develop if every day we approach the Word with an “I’m just gonna flip through and read at some random place I happen to stop” mentality. So much can go wrong there, and reading the text out of context can be one of many downfalls that may occur.
Then, move a step further. When will you be studying? In the morning? Evening? During a long break between classes? During the baby’s nap? (thats me). Budget the specific time in your day. There is a degree of flexibility needed here. It is impossible to avoid the fact that there will be days that your schedule will be thrown off and you may miss reading when you normally would have. Let me just reiterate: be intentional but flexible when needed. For example, If you choose to read in the morning, but for some reason one day you have an appointment at that time, be intentional to read earlier or later in the day. Don’t let it go just because it didn’t happen at your “normal time”. Look ahead at the rest of your day and make another plan for when that devotional time is going to take place.
3. Where does the “no” go?
You are going to have to say no to something. Examine your life and choose where that “no” will go. Maybe it's saying "no" to sleeping longer in the morning, making the decision to get up 30 minutes earlier. That may mean going to bed earlier in the evening so that giving up morning sleep isn’t such an issue. Maybe your no will be applied to screen time. Put your phone/t.v./computer “to bed” at a certain time in the evening so that you can focus on time in the Word. Or, maybe it means letting the mess in the house wait and choosing to sit down and dive into scripture instead of constantly cleaning and tidying when you have spare time. It could mean saying no to social media until you have had spent quality time reading your Bible.
There are many more examples that could be given. Nevertheless, only you can make an honest assessment of your life and see where your “no” needs to go.
4. You might miss one day, but don't miss two in a row.
We aren’t perfect. Shocker, right? We will, most likely, miss a day of Bible reading at one point or another. There’s grace to cover that. We are not earning our salvation or favor from God by the “work” of reading our Bibles. Growing in Biblical literacy, gaining a better understanding of Scripture is for our good and God’s glory. So, when you miss a day, acknowledge it, pray and don’t miss tomorrow.
I recently heard about an interesting study. This study revealed that when an individual is trying to create a new, beneficial habit or practice in their life, if they miss one day it doesn’t have detrimental repercussions to the development of that new positive practice. When things start to go downhill is when they get discouraged and miss two days in a row. This starts to lay the foundation for compounding negative decisions and behaviors.
Let that not be so with us, my friends. Let us accept the grace God extends to us with open arms, knowing that we are human and we will fall short. Let us not dwell in our shortcomings, but rather acknowledge them and look unto Jesus and move towards Him, not away from Him, in the midst of our failures.
// Side note #1: Maybe you're doing a reading plan. So what if you are “behind”. Oh well. Start where you left of and don’t let the plan limit you. Read one, two, five days if you want. I’ve allowed myself at times to be bound by reading plans until I finally realized that there’s freedom to read more!
// Side note #2: It's more than okay to read your Bible more than once in a day. That may go without saying, but I think we can get stuck in a checklist mentality and view our devotional time as something that is "done" and can be checked off our daily to-do list. As you hunger more and more for the Word of God, you will find yourself coming back to the Word over the course of the day. It might or might not be as intentional as your designated devotional time. It may be meditating on what you read, or doing a quick search for a verse that's on your heart. Maybe even reading a Psalm in a particularly stressful chunk of the day. Regardless of what it looks like, as we put the Bible before us consistently, even if in a systematic nature at first, the more organic the practice will become in our lives.
5. Incorporate simple joys.
Your time in God’s word is a precious and special time. Set up some tangible ways to remind yourself of that by incorporating some of your simple joys. This definitely isn’t “necessary”, but I’ve found that when I do this, I look forward my time in the Word even more.
For me, it’s a hot cup of coffee, a giant glass of water (with a couple drops of lemon essential oil) and some soft worship music playing in the background. No joke, one of my husband’s simple joys when he gets up to read before he goes to work is having a candle flickering beside him, and the one he uses is a fake outdoor candle, but hey, he likes it! For him, it makes his devotional time even more cozy.
What are some of your simple joys? Identify them and take the time to set yourself up for that special time. Set the coffee pot timer the night before. Set some slippers out. Buy some more of your favorite tea. Create playlist of your favorite worship songs. Purchase a cute journal to jot notes in as you read. Buy a new candle. Diffuse some essential oils. Sit outside and enjoy the sun. Bottom line: Do something to cultivate even more anticipation for that special time in the Word.
I feel the need to add this disclaimer. Your devotional time may not look the way you would ideally like it to. Maybe you are listening to the Bible by audio on your long commute to work. Maybe you have young children at home and your “quiet time” really isn’t quiet in any sense of the word.
Can I encourage you? It’s okay.
It's okay if you are distracted because your children ask you a question here and there. Let me just say, what an amazing thing it will be for your children as they get older to have memories of seeing Mom or Dad reading their Bibles. It's ok if the baby needs some attention and it interrupts you a bit. It's okay if you go to read and you feel you didn’t learn very much or you feel confused about something you just read. Just keep going. God will honor your desire and choice to be in His word even when it isn't easy. Even when it isn’t the quiet, candle lit, hot coffee type of devo time. Just. Keep. Going. You are still moving in the right direction when you decide to be in His Word, despite the outward circumstance or your less than ideal feelings about it all.
Momentum will pick up and you will grow in the Lord as He enables you to continue day by day by day.
In view of God’s mercy,