Let the streaks begin!
2020, diet plans, gym memberships, and habit trackers are here! In just a few months, Planet Fitness will have open treadmills again, MyFitnessPal will be sending out plenty of “you have not logged your food today” notifications, and the Bible App streaks will be back in the single digits as we shrug off the guilt of failed New Year’s resolutions.
While I’ve started my fair share of failed Bible reading plans, I’m slowly learning how to spend time each day in God’s Word. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years. Maybe they’ll help you.
10 Tips To Help You Keep Reading God’s Word
1. Prioritize the time you spend in God’s Word each day. Meditating on Scripture for 5 minutes is worth more than the 5 hours we spend on our phones every day. We are called to be “making the best use of the time”, and there are few better ways to spend our time than reading and meditating on Scripture (Eph. 5:16). Before you watch This Is Us or dive into Tim Challies’ 2020 reading plan, make sure you give God some of your best time to read and think about His Word.
2. Use a Bible reading plan. The old adage continues to ring true in my life, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Each year I start with a Bible reading plan and end up saying to myself “this is too restrictive, I want the freedom to read whatever I want.” This usually backfires and I end up playing Bible roulette and landing in my favorite passages a couple of days each week. Having a Bible reading plan seems to be the most consistent and diverse way for me to keep reading and enjoying God’s word. Find a reading plan that suits you and try to stick with it!
3. Create a habit. Good habits change lives. Bad habits destroy us. In The Common Rule, Justin Whitmel Earley says that our habits are liturgy and that “we need language to emphasize the non-neutrality of our day-to-day routines.” In other words, our habits reveal our worship. If our habits lead us away from hearing from God on a regular basis, there’s an idol lurking in the shadows of our hearts. Many apps have a daily notification that reminds us to read, but the best habits are the ones that we look forward to because they bring both joy and benefit to our souls.
4. Pray for the time you spend in God’s Word. Too often, we go to the Bible aimlessly and wonder why we walk away unmoved by the glory revealed to us. We confess that the Scriptures are God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16), but we don’t ask the Divine Author to open the eyes of our hearts and minds to hear and receive the Word. A simple, dependent prayer can help: “Lord, speak to me through your Word today”. In fact, that are several heart postures we should consider before we open our Bibles.
5. Meditate on what you read. Whether you prefer a notebook, journaling Bible, blog, or a simple notecard, meditating on your reading is vital. The blessed man is the one who meditates on God’s Word day and night (Psalm 1:2). Delighting in God and His Word fuels meditation and meditation fuels delight in God and His Word. Meditation and delight are inseparable. If you don’t know how to meditate, the Puritans can surely help. They were skilled and wrote frequently on the topic of biblical meditation.
6. Pray during and after you read Scripture. Don’t just read the Bible, pray the Bible. The whole process of Bible reading should be done coram deo—in the presence of God. One significant way to be mindful of the presence of God is to talk to Him while you read His Word. So often Bible reading feels like an obscure homework assignment that is supposed to mystically connect us to a God we don’t think about before, during, or after. By praying as you read, you not only seek the presence and help of God, you also pray the very Words of God to Him. If you want to be sure that His Words abide in you as you “ask whatever you wish” (John 15:7), praying the Bible is sure to give you that confidence.
7. Discuss what you read. Unless you’re an extreme introvert, you talk to people every day. While it’s not sinful to talk about the news, weather, sports, or your family, you could also talk to someone about the Scriptures you’ve been reading. Not only will conversation help you with retaining and applying something you’ve read, it will benefit and encourage the people you are sharing with! This is an excellent way to evangelize and counsel people in your life!
8. Incorporate your Bible reading into family worship. Whether you’re single and living with godly roommates, a parent of preschoolers, or empty nest parents of adult children, you need to be having family worship. This doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should include at least some Bible reading and prayer. Don Whitney offers a simple method that you can implement immediately. If you’re reading through Matthew 17 today, why not save that for family worship time? Knowing the attention span and ages in your home, select a portion or all of the chapter to read. Discuss it briefly, ask a few questions, and spend some time in prayer.
9. Obey what you read. Your Bible reading is useless if you don’t believe it. Salvation is by grace alone through faith and faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 10:17). However, faith without works is dead. We don’t look in the mirror and forget what we look like. Neither should we read God’s Word and walk away without a resolve, by grace, to obey what it says (James 1:22-25). It takes the power of the Holy Spirit and supernatural wisdom to see what God desires, but one of the chief aims of reading the Scriptures should be to become more like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Both Sinclair Ferguson and J.C. Ryle have written on this important aspect of the Christian life.
10. Your Bible won’t read itself. Years ago, I was around some brothers who visibly loved God and His Word. They were memorizing, discussing, applying, and sharing God’s Word anytime I was around. I asked one of them a simple question: “What tips do you have for reading the Bible?”. He thought for a second and said this simple but life-changing sentence, “Your Bible won’t read itself”. He’s right.
Keep On Keepin’ On
If we want to keep reading our Bibles in 2020, we have to read our Bibles in 2020. All the tips in the world can’t replace reading or listening to God’s Word on a regular basis. In all of this, we must not forget the gospel. We are not saved by our Bible reading, nor are we keeping ourselves in God’s good graces by reading 4 chapters a day. However, as I heard so often growing up, we have to keep on keepin’ on.
We have to read on the days we don’t feel like it, begging God to change our hearts. We have to read on the days we are too tired, too busy, or too overwhelmed, knowing that God’s Word is profitable for those times, too. We simply have to keep reading because we know that the Scriptures point us to a glorious, mighty, triune God who is worthy of our love, energy, and devotion each and every day.
What are some tips you'd offer to someone trying to keep up with daily Bible reading? Leave a comment below!