After interviewing several online friends about their Bible reading habits, I decided to camp one more week on Psalm 1:1-3 and briefly summarize some “how to” strategies for making God’s Word a part of our daily lives. I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, but maybe some of my ideas will help you.
Two out of five of my friends answered, “I haven’t read my Bible on a consistent basis for quite some time.” What is a “consistent basis”? Well, we’ve been learning in Psalm 1 that the ideal is to meditate on God’s Word day and night. I think we can all agree that this is God’s ideal for us. For me, I want meditation in God’s Word to become a habit. Habits are things that we do so often, they become almost second-nature. We do them over and over and over and over again. Some common habits we have are…
- breathing 🙂
- not just eating, but eating at the same times each day
- some people eat the same THING at the same time each day! LOL!
- brushing our teeth
- making the bed
- dumping the mail on the kitchen counter
- watching the same TV shows each week
- biting our fingernails when worried
For good or for bad, habits control our lives. Now, let’s think about how habits are formed, so we can begin forming the habit of Bible reading into our days.
- Eating: My grandmother was diabetic, and because of the advanced condition of her disease, she had to carefully monitor not only what she ate but exactly when she ate. She lived with my parents, and my mom was in charge of Grandma’s diet. Mom made a detailed schedule of Grandma’s day, including meal times, times to take medications, times to check blood sugar levels, and foods that she could and could not eat. Everyone in their house followed Grandma’s meal schedule. Then, Mom wrote down what really DID happen, including all those blood sugar levels, in a journal so that if Grandma needed medical attention, Mom could inform the doctors exactly what had happened. It saved her life many times!
- Brushing Our Teeth: When I teach my kids how to brush their teeth, first I do it for them, then I help them by doing it with them (putting the toothpaste on, holding their arm while they learn to brush, etc.), then I watch while they do it, then eventually I only check on them periodically. Of course, this happens over several years. (I also use sticker charts and other incentives to help both them and ME get into the habit.)
- Making the Bed: I don’t like to do household chores, so I require myself to make my bed BEFORE I leave the bedroom. I’ve found that once I walk out the door, I can find a million and one excuses not to have to come back in again. LOL!
- Dumping the Mail on the Kitchen Counter: Why do we do this?!?! Because it’s CONVENIENT! Because we’re lazy! Because there is more room to put the mail here than on the messy desk in the room that is down the hall….
Can you see what I’m getting at? It takes planning, routine, and effort to make a habit. As we think about making Bible reading a habit, try these ideas:
- Write down why it is so important to you. (In the case of my Grandma, her habits were life saving. Think about how urgent it is for you to be spiritually fed!)
- Find a TIME in your DAY to SCHEDULE it. This is important, even if you’re not generally a schedule-abiding person. I recommend that you follow the Psalmist’s advice and choose times that are first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
- Find an accountability partner. First, do devotions together a few times, so that you can learn from the other person’s experience. Then, work out a routine and get their opinion. Then check back with your partner periodically.
- Why not make a chart? You could even put stickers on it! LOL! Put it in a conspicuous place where you’ll see it often, or where you’ll be motivated to be consistent because others will see it. (The refrigerator is always a good choice.)
- Make this rule: No Bible, no Breakfast. As in the case of making the bed, you’ll probably find that once you pass breakfast, you’re very unlikely to find the time to read your Bible again. The day just gets too hectic! Remind yourself that you shouldn’t feed yourself physically if you have been too lazy to feed yourself spiritually.
- Make it convenient. I’ve often told you that my Bible is in my bathroom. I always take a shower, brush my teeth, and apply at least a touch of make-up. That’s why a Bible is sitting right next to my sink! If I had to walk across the house to get a Bible, I’d probably be too lazy to do it. Be sure to have any other supplies you might like right there, too!
Several of my friends mentioned that they read books about God or devotionals written by people. While these are good (you KNOW what a book worm I am!), I want to warn you that NOTHING can substitute for reading the Bible directly. I’m afraid that many Christians are malnourished spiritually, simply because they only eat spiritual food that has been “processed,” served “fast-food style”, or is even being “spoon fed” to them directly. If you’re a baby Christian, you may need the help. But very soon, you need to advance to spiritual meat and dig into God’s Word directly!
My personal opinion is that the best way to read the Bible is to begin at the beginning, but only one of my friends was doing that. Please, don’t wait long to start in Genesis! You desperately need the counsel and the perspective given in the Old Testament. (Books don’t make sense when we skip the front part.)
I urge you to find a pretty bookmark. Place it at Genesis 1:1 and begin to read. Some authors recommend reading 15 minutes a day to start. I personally find that 2 chapters work well for me. Some days I’m hungry for more, and then there are days that I find a gem after a couple verses and decide to stop there. Leave your bookmark in your Bible, and begin again tomorrow. Keep reading until you finish! You probably won’t be done in a year this way, but then again, you also will have time to read more slowly or more quickly as the Spirit leads.
In the evening, before bed, you might want to quickly read through a Proverb or Psalm. You might also want to be memorizing a chunk of Scripture. I go to Bible Gateway and print out a passage of Scripture to memorize. I hang this print-out over my kitchen sink, along with a small list of prayer requests.
And when I want to read through the entire Bible in a year, this is the schedule I use.
By doing these things, I am reading my Bible morning, noon, and night. Others might enjoy purchasing a small notebook and studying a passage of Scripture in depth for 15 or 20 minutes a day. Many choose to do this right after lunch.
I hope I’ve given you many ideas. I’d LOVE to get feedback from you all on this! Please comment with your personal ideas and motivational tools. Please share your hang-ups and frustrations. I’m sure we can ALL improve in this area. Most of all, let’s pray for each other!