I can’t say this enough. If you are not happy, content, satisfied in your Christian life… If you feel like you are missing something… If you feel unfulfilled… I bet you are not reading the Bible as you should.
I have been a Christian for 29 years, but it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I really started growing in Christ. It was like the difference in seeing a plant growing naturally, with the occasional watering and sunshine and then watching a plant grow intentionally, with an extra shot of Miracle Grow and precise amounts of water and sunshine.
There really is no comparison between the two plants, just as there is not comparison between my life before consistent Bible study and after. Committing to reading the Word daily is a life changing commitment. It is a habit that will transform your life.
Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
Now think about this. Without the Word of God, you are walking around in the darkness. You are stumbling into bad relationships, knocking over ill-chosen careers, falling into holes of debt, and just becoming generally lost by distractions the devil put in place.
But when you allow the Word of God to light your path, to light your life, then you begin to see the obstacles, holes, and distractions for what they are. Scriptures light the path that you should be on and show you where to go.
I do understand, however, that consistently digging into the Word and using it to light your life is not an easy habit to create. I am not defending our lack of priorities, but when you decide on a consistent quiet time, understand satan is out there doing everything in his power to keep you from it. The last thing he wants is for women, moms, and wives, to constantly be in the Word, growing their relationship with God. He needs us stumbling in the darkness.
So how do we create a Bible reading habit? How can we make small changes to ensure we are in the Word daily?
1) Start small.
I have said this before, the Bible is a big book. It can be intimidating. Don’t feel like you have to read the whole book, or a whole chapter for that matter. Just start small. Pick a verse. Read one verse a day and choose to meditate on it. Find one of the cute printables on Pinterest with daily writing plans and start there. Those are easy and laid out for you.
If you are lacking a desire to read the Word, but you know that is what you need to be doing, then it may be hard to find the motivation to do it (it’s okay to be honest here, I think most of us have been there). So listen to a Christian podcast or read some biblically based blogs. Get the Word without opening the Bible. Now this is not a substitute for reading the Bible! But, I have found that starting with something you are more comfortable with or more motivated to do will increase your hunger for the Word. After being challenged through other means, your desire to read the Word grows and you are more excited about opening the Bible.
Don’t set certain expectations for yourself if you are just trying to start a good habit. Just start small and let it grow gradually from there.
2. Find a time.
You know a lot of workout apps want you to schedule a time on your phone to workout. Personal trainers encourage you to schedule workouts like you would an important meeting. Why? Because you are more likely to stick to it. The same is true with your daily Bible study.
Find a time that will work nearly every day to study the word. Early in the morning is what works for me. Maybe you are a late night person. Maybe you can spare 15 minutes while you are waiting in the pick-up line.
Or maybe you will have to intentionally carve out some time in your day, like you would for a doctor’s appointment… I know you may be thinking how can I do that everyday? Well, let me tell you something about God. He will meet you halfway. If you put forth the effort, He will give it tenfold. I promise if you schedule a time for Bible study, make it a priority, and stick to it, God will open up your schedule. You may even have more time than you thought because that is how God works.
All we have to do is give a little and He will multiply what we have. That includes time.
3. Find a method.
Okay, here is what you don’t need to do. Open the Bible and begin reading. While I fully believe the Word will not go out void, you are certainly not helping the Spirit out any by approaching it that way.
I mean, think back to when you were in school studying for a test. How well did it work out for you when you just “read over” your notes? For most of us, not so good. Studying the Bible like that will give you about the same reward.
There are a host of different methods out there that will give you so much more benefit. To begin with, I would do one of the following:
- I don’t know if this has a name, but we will call it verse annotation. Annotating a text is something I teach my middle school students to do. Annotating is just making explanatory notes on the text. So, when it comes to Bible study, this is what I do. I just write out the verse or short passage and I make notes all around it. What does it remind me of? What words are used in other translations? What other Bible references can I attach to this verse? Whatever. It’s not like you can do it wrong. This is your study and your notes so do what works for you. Below you can see a few pictures of my studying.
- The next one if verse mapping. It is very similar to the verse annotating, but it looks a little different on paper. There are also several different versions to this out there, so find one that works for you and that you can make your own. But, with verse mapping, you write the verse. Then you also record the verse in a different translations. You can also include any words you would like to study on a deeper level. You summarize the text and include some historical context. Finally, include some personal application. You can see examples of this one on my Pinterest Board.
4. Stick with it.
So some studies show it takes 21 days to create a habit. Another study says it takes an average of 66 days, so a little over two months, but that is an average. And the same study stated that it took some participants over 200 days to form a habit.
Well, let me say, I do not believe you are going to read the Word for 200 days and still not have a habit put in place. I believe it will be planted in your heart way before that. But I do believe you will have to stick with it for a while.
To begin with, the devil will really be working against you. He will not want you to succeed in forming a habit. He will not want you to enjoy your time. He will work to interrupt it as often as he can. You have got to outlast him. Push through the diversions the devil throws in your way.
Then you will need to hone in on how you like to study the Bible. You may need to try several different ways before you find one that really works for you. I know I mix it up often, just depending on what I am in the mood for. That too will take time.
But once you find a way that works for you, that you are learning from, and you have got that time carved out of your schedule, I promise it will begin to take off. But you have to commit to sticking with it.
I know for me, if I ever go more than a few days without some sort of Bible study, I begin to miss it. I yearn for the Word of God. It feels like a life-long friend I haven’t talked to in a while and I am anxious to visit again.
I cannot say this loud enough or often enough – You are just a lukewarm Christian if you do not have consistent Bible study in your life. If you are not reading the Bible in some form daily, then you are missing out. You are selling God short. You are not taking advantage of all He has to offer and you will never truly grow as a Christian and find the joy the scripture brags about.
I know we have busy lives. I know we have countless distractions. I know we are all in different stages of our lives and maybe even different stages of our walk, but when you read the Bible, God doesn’t mention any exceptions. He wants us all studying the Word and gaining maturity, growth, and relationship with Him through that.
Trust me, it is worth the sacrifice. As a matter of fact, after some time, it won’t be a sacrifice at all… It will be a privilege.