The last two weeks, my posts have been on essential elements of Bible reading: knowing the difference between study and devotional reading (and why you need both) and finding a reading guide that works for you.
All those things are great, but honestly, the hardest part of Bible reading is just doing it and doing it consistently. How can you get yourself into a regular routine of reading the Bible? Below are 6 steps to help you establish your Bible reading routine and stick with it
1. Pick a Time/Length of Time
I’ve seen this quote multiple places (so I’m not sure who to attribute it to): what gets scheduled gets done. If you’re just expecting to find some of that ever elusive “extra time’ in your day to dedicate to Bible reading, you’re never going to read your Bible. Set aside a particular amount of time at a particular time of day. It doesn’t have to be super specific (like I will read everyday at 7:27 AM), but you can figure out a general time (i.e. after breakfast, after you get home from work, before bed, etc.). You should also think out how long you’re going to allot yourself, as that might impact what time you pick.
Don’t feel ashamed if you’re starting small. A small start is still a start! God is not more impressed with you because you spend more time reading your Bible. God knows what life season you’re in right now. He’s fully aware of the other commitments in your life. He gave those to you, after all. If you’ve got little kids or a crazy work/school schedule and all you can commit to right now is five minutes, that’s totally fine. Use those five minutes. There may be other seasons where you can commit more time, but for now, just start where you can.
2. Pick a Place
Have a place in mind where you are going to read. You want a place where you can concentrate and where you won’t constantly be interrupted. Some people might want a completely quiet place. Others may need a little background noise to feel comfortable. You don’t have to shut yourself up in a closet (though you can if you want to). You could pick your kitchen table, a bench outside, a coffee shop, your bedroom, really anywhere where you feel at home and can think.
You don’t want to pick a place with a bunch of distractions. You also probably want to set some ground rules about what you’re going to leave out of this space. For example, leaving your phone behind, unless you’re using it to read on, is probably a good idea. Even if you are using your phone, you can set your phone on Do Not Disturb while you read or turn your phone one airplane mode. Apple phones actually have a feature where you can set your phone to automatically go into Do Not Disturb at a certain time each day, which can be helpful.
3. Pick What You’re Going to Do/Read
Last week’s post included a list of three of the most common Bible reading tools: study plans, devotionals, and prayer books. There are other tools out there that are a hybrid of these things, but those are the basic tools you have to choose from. Figure out what you want to study right now. You don’t have to pick for a whole year or even the whole month, but maybe figure out on a weekly basis to start. Try something for a week. If it works for you, stick with it. If not, try something else the next week.
Even if you find something that you like, you should probably mix it up every once in a while. Don’t be afraid to branch out! You don’t want to get stuck in a rut. You never know what new insights could be waiting for you in a new resource!
4. Get an accountability partner (or make one)
When you’re starting a new habit (or trying to improve on one you’ve already established), it helps to have some accountability. If you know a friend or have a family member who also wants to be more on track with Bible reading, you could keep each other accountable. This can be as easy as shooting a text back and forth everyday to remind one another to read.
Even if you don’t have a human to keep you accountable, you can be your own accountability partner by making a chart to track your reading. You can do this the old fashioned way with a paper chart that you can check off, color in, etc. If you want to get really fancy and modern, there are also a lot of habit tracking apps for your phone that you can use. Some of the Bible reading/devotional apps I mentioned in last week’s post have a feature that helps you do this (or an even send you notifications to remind you to read.
5. Be Flexible
Recognize from the beginning that you’re probably not going to have a perfect record of Bible reading. That’s okay! The truth is, we live in a time where we have easy access to Bibles and can read everyday. However, that hasn’t been true for most of human history. Many Christians never had their own copies of the Scriptures. Many more never knew how to read! While we should try to get into the Scriptures as much as possible, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for not measuring up to a standard that wasn’t even possible for the earliest Christians. We should steward our current resources well while recognizing our limitations.
Be okay with the fact that you’re going to need some skip days. You may even want to plan on taking a “Sabbath” from Bible reading. That’s okay. My husband and I read every weekday (unless one of us has an unusually early morning appointment), but we don’t really read together on weekends. On Sunday, we’re at church, so we’re hearing Scripture there. On Saturdays, our day’s rhythm is just different and doesn’t include reading the Bible together. We’re okay with that.
We should never become legalistic about any part of our faith journey and that includes Bible reading. The goal is to be consistent, but we should also be flexible.
6. Just Start!
The hardest part of reading consistently is simply getting started. Start even if you don’t have your place picked yet or you’re still working out your perfect time. Don’t wait until the book you just ordered gets here. Start with reading through Proverbs or James (which are both super practical and easy to read) while you wait.
If you just start, you will slowly start to work through all the things I’ve suggested in this post. You’ll figure out your kitchen table is too distracting, but your bedroom is too quiet, so the couch is perfect. You’ll decide that the devotional book you started with is too long for the time you have. Some of these things you really just have to experiment with to find the right fit. To experiment, you have to start though, so just start reading today!
How about you? What are the biggest obstacles that keep you from reading the Bible consistently? Or maybe you’ve got a good thing going. What are some tools/strategies/tricks you use to keep yourself in the Word on a regular basis?