Practical Tips for Reading the Bible Consistently…
(underlined words/phrases below are links that can be clicked on)
Let me start off with a personal admission: it has been difficult for me over the past fourteen+ years of following Jesus to read the Bible consistently (i.e. on a daily basis). I started off reading Scripture a ton the first year after I became a believer, then I tapered off a bit but read a couple of times a week for another handful of years. But, over time, life and lethargy have played a big role in keeping me from The Book.
Here are some tips that have helped me over the years:
1. Ask God to Give You a Hunger for Him and His Word. Reading the Bible is one of the primary ways that we grow closer in our relationship with God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Reading the Bible consistently is not simply “heavenly homework” or a “Christian chore”; it is the main way we get to know God, the purpose for our existence in the first place (see John 17:3). And it does no good for us simply to “try our hardest” to grow closer to God. Of course, there is an element of striving & effort, but we also need God to do what only He can do: develop in us—from the inside out—a hunger and a thirst for more of HIM. As we take baby steps toward the LORD regarding spending time with Him through Scripture, and as He draws us closer to Him by transforming our spiritual palette, over time we will see reading Scripture less like work and more like a delicious meal that we look forward to and enjoy.
2. Try a New Translation of Scripture. I do not mean to open up a can of worms here; I realize that some of us are extremely passionate about the “rightness” of the Bible translation we read. But there are some fantastic translations out there that will help us to see familiar passages from fresh perspectives. I have been blessed with reading the New Living Translation (NLT) and The Message in the past as supplements to my staple the NIV; these are not meant to replace a more literal, word for word translation of Scripture, but they and others are helpful as supplements that make the Bible flow a little better in everyday English. The free website www.biblegateway.com is also a great way to read passages of Scripture from a variety of different translations.
3. Try Listening to Scripture on CD or mp3. For most of the last 4,000 years, the majority of God’s people have heard His Word (as opposed to reading it). Now there is NOTHING wrong with reading Scripture; but listening to it can give us fresh insight into it and can enable us to take in the Bible while we drive, ride the train, workout, etc. I purchased the NIV on CD for only $50, though there are many other options and translations available as Voice Only or Dramatic Reading (with multiple actors, sound effects, etc.), as well as the Bible on mp3. Amazon.com has many options available.
4. Start Small At First (Read Short Chunks). Then gradually increase as your hunger for God grows. Truthfully, part of reading Scripture is training our minds and bodies to simply do it (even when we are tired, don’t want to, or are busy). So start small—read a chapter (usually takes 5-10 minutes) and ask God to help it sink into your mind and heart. Then go for it again the next day!
5. Start with Narrative (Action) Books of Scripture. The Gospels, Acts, Genesis, 1 & 2 Chronicles, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Samuel, etc. are all accounts of events that actually happened. For some people, this is more interesting than reading the finer points of theology (as in Paul’s epistles). Now certainly all Scripture is important and our souls, minds, and bodies benefit by reading the entire counsel of God’s Word. But if we get stuck reading the Bible, turning to those books that tell a story with plot twists, suspense, betrayal, forks in the road, victories, defeats, etc. might be helpful in restarting our reading of God’s Word. No wonder Jesus often taught people using parables…
6. Try Reading Scripture Verses According to Topic. I purchased a copy of the book “God’s Promises for You” for $5 and it has been a great blessing to me (and to teens who I have given the book to over the years). These books have different Scripture passages divided into sections like: “what to do when you are tired, ashamed, scared, anxious, etc.” Then you can get a full Bible and read through a particular passage that encouraged you, or you could pray the words of the passage and ask God to make His Truth there a reality in your daily life.
7. Try a Free Reading Plan! Please click HERE for a quick and simple way to customize a free plan for reading Scripture consistently that will then be emailed to you every day! Or you can purchase a Bible in a Year that will give you readings for each day as a guide.
8. Make It A Family Event! During dinnertime, right before bed, when kids get home from school, around the bonfire/fireplace, or another time can be great to read Scripture together, out loud, as a family. Perhaps each person reads a paragraph and then once everyone has done so you can simply talk about the meaning of what you read. This can last for 10 minutes or much longer; just start somewhere and keep it going one day at a time!
9. Don’t Do It Alone! Ask close friends to read through a book or section of the Bible with you (you don’t have to physically be together, but, for example, you could say, “Let’s both read through 1 Timothy this week—about a chapter per day. Let’s send each other a text or email each day asking how each other is doing keeping up with the reading!” Once finished at the end of the week, grab coffee and talk about the points that were interesting, confusing, eye-opening, etc. Celebrate that you accomplished this, and start a new book of the Bible the following week!
10. Share Your Challenge with Others and Ask Them To Pray for You! Whether with your small group, your spouse, a best friend, or a pastor, share the challenge(s) you face regarding reading Scripture consistently with someone else. Ask them how they have jumped over their own hurdles in this regard, and ask them to pray for you regularly. Struggle shared is struggle divided!
11. Perhaps Now is a Great Time to Recommit Your Life to the LORD. It is so easy, especially for those who have been walking with Jesus for multiple decades, to get side tracked in our devotion to Him. Just as long married couples find it healthy to renew their vows each decade, so too might now be a great time to recommit your life to Jesus, to refresh those vows you made to Him many years ago. Here are some simple steps to do that:
A. Think about when you first gave your life to Jesus. Maybe you can’t remember the exact date, but you might know which season/year of life it was. What were the conditions that led you to take that step of faith? What attracted you to Christ? What about Him made sense to you then? What were the situations in your life when everything seemed to “click” and you didn’t want to live another moment without placing your earthly and eternal destiny in His capable and loving hands? Simply ponder this while on a long drive/train ride, or even journal your thoughts when you can’t sleep one night.
B. Then think about the ways that God has grown & matured you from that day until now. What are some of the big lessons God has taught you? What are some bad habits you have released, or some good habits you have taken up? What difference has walking with Jesus made in your daily life?
C. Now ask Jesus to simply hit the refresh button on your relationship with Him. Tell Him that you want to grow closer to Him, that you want to be exactly who He made you to be, that you want to do what He made you to do, and that you need His help, one day at a time. Then start pursuing Him each day through reading Scripture, consistently attending church, and getting plugged in to a small group!
12. Maybe You Have NEVER Given Your Life to the LORD. Now is the TIME! Remember, we don’t read Scripture consistently so that we can say to God, “See, I did my homework. Now leave me alone to do what I want to do the rest of the day!” Rather, we read Scripture out of a heart that is growing in love for Him, that is growing in its desire to serve Him, be close to Him, know Him, worship Him, be like Him, obey Him, etc. And while we can (and should) try to read Scripture more, before we start trying I believe we must ask God, if we never have before, to come into our hearts and take up residence, allowing Him to get behind the wheel of our lives. In other words, we would be wise to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior so that He can begin to change our wills and our desires from the inside out. Doing this is as simple as admitting to Jesus that you are a sinner and that you want Him to be your Savior, your Leader, your Master and your Best Friend. Then, over time, we will begin to read Scripture more not because we have to, but because we get to. Indeed, as our souls cry out for more of Him, we will read His Word, just as we rush to get food or water the moment our physical hunger and thirst begins to grow.
13. Keep Striving…Just Remember That God LOVES YOU & He Desires You To Know Him Deeply & Personally! 🙂