Let’s face it. Most of us are not as disciplined in our Bible reading as we should be. We’ve heard over and over to “Read your Bible and pray every day” since as long as we’ve given our lives to Christ, but we still struggle to read God’s Word as often as we should. We know that the Bible is a major part of our spiritual nourishment, but it’s all too common that we realize one day that we can’t remember the last time that we actually read the Bible for ourselves.
I know that feeling all to well. As a minister, you would think that I’ve been a super-human, high-powered, professional holy man since the day I jumped out of my mother’s womb. But the reality is that I’ve struggled to be consistent in this area most of my adult life. I get distracted way too easy. Life makes me tired. And I’ve struggled much more than I’ve done well.
That’s changed a lot over the past couple years. I can honestly say that this year and last I’ve been the most consistent in my daily reading than ever before. In fact, I’ve read the Bible every single day so far in 2010. I’ve learned a few things that have really helped me become consistent, so I thought I’d share those here. Here are a few things that have worked for me and I think they could help you, too.
Find a rhythm that works for you.
There are a few people that I know who get up extremely early in the morning (when Jesus might still be asleep) to spend time in prayer and Bible study. When I hear people talk about this my first reaction is to feel guilty. That seems like the thing that all of us should do if we really love Jesus. But the reality is that early mornings don’t work best for everyone. It may be that you need to start doing that, but what’s most important is to find a rhythm of Bible reading that works best for you.
The majority of the time that I read the Bible is at night right before I go to bed. There are days that I’ll find time in the middle of the morning or afternoon to get in the word, but I tend to read before bed most of the time. If you’re a night owl like me, maybe reading the Bible then is the best time for you.
Make it a priority.
This may be the most important thing I’ve done. It’s easy to come up with a litany of excuses about why we’re not being consistent in our reading, but the most likely reason is that we haven’t seen it as being all that important of a thing to do. Excuses like, “We’ve heard most of the important stories before.” “The Bible hasn’t been available to read for everyone for most of history, so why bother today?” “Life’s so stressful with work and the kids that the last thing I need to do is add another thing to my to do list.”
Whatever the excuse is the reality is that we’re not making it a high priority in our everyday lives. Until that happens any excuse will seem like a good one.
Follow a plan to read the whole Bible.
From what I can tell, there are two ways that are really popular for reading the Bible but aren’t really the best if you’re struggling in being consistent. One is to just open up the Bible randomly to a page and start reading. All of Scripture is inspired, so I’m bound to find something valuable no matter where I start, right? Well, that is true, but if you don’t have a plan in place to read through the whole Bible you’ll probably just skip over some less than fun sections (Leviticus/Numbers for example).
The other way that I hear of people doing is reading straight through from Genesis to Revelation. I’ve never done this and it’s likely that I never will. My wife, Brea, is doing this now and I really admire her for it, but there are a number of other ways to read the Bible that I have found to be easier to to follow than this plan.
The best source for reading plans I have found is from YouVersion. They have over twenty plans to choose from. Not only that, YouVersion can be accessed from your browser or you mobile device (they even have an iPhone app, too). On top of that, you can choose how short or how long you want it take to make it through the plan. Oh, and they also have an option to add accountability partner to help keep you on track! Those are some great options!
If you prefer to read your print bible you can check out some printable plans over at the Blue Letter Bible website.
Give yourself some grace.
Even if you follow my previous tips, you’re likely to miss a day or two (or more) over the course of your reading. If this happens to you realize that this just confirms your need for grace and forgiveness from Christ and learn to give yourself some grace. Satan loves to make people feel guilty, and if you feel guilty about not reading your Bible you’ll be less likely to read your Bible, which is what is making you feel guilty in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle.
Those are just a few tips that I’ve got. Do you have any success stories or struggles to share in your Bible reading? Share in the comments!
[image via eye2eye]