You don’t need me to tell you how important daily Bible study is, but here goes anyway: it is important. It is one of the best ways to start your day, to finish your day, or to “interrupt” your day, because by opening up your Bible and studying His Word (even for five minutes), you are allowing your mind to constantly grow and reflect on Him and His promises.
Unfortunately, for many of us, reading the Bible is a lot like exercising: we’ll do it “if we have the time” or “if there’s nothing else to do” and “it’s not too painful,” but we don’t really want to do it. After all, isn’t what we hear on the weekends enough? That’s what we’re paying the preacher for, right?
When we do decide to start a daily Bible reading plan, usually we have the best of intentions. We will wake up thirty minutes early every day, open up our brand new Bible, unfold our schedule, and start learning! The sad reality is that usually those paper schedules are folded back up and neglected within a few weeks.
So how do we make our noble plan of daily Bible reading stick for good? If you perform a simple google search, you’ll see a lot of the same ideas pop up: have a set time every day to read, find an accountability partner, join a study group, etc. All of those are fantastic ideas; the problem is, many of us simply don’t do them. Or if we do do them, we flame out in the aforementioned few weeks.
How about some different ideas? Not necessarily better, but hopefully not worse – just different. Below are some ideas I’ve found that help me to stay diligent in reading in my own personal life; hopefully, you’ll find a couple you can implement as well.
Associate it With Something Pleasant
Look, I know what you’re going to say: “Brady, reading the Bible by itself is something pleasant.” I absolutely, one-thousand percent agree with that, and I am not, in any way, comparing Bible study with oh, let’s say, brushing your teeth. But the truth is, if you really felt like that, you wouldn’t need to read this article. Bible reading would already be a habit, it would already be something you make time for, and this all would be an exercise in futility.
This is the exact reason this website is called “Coffee and a Bible:” I love coffee and I love the Bible, and I especially love them together. To me, there’s nothing better than finding a few quiet minutes with some generic brand, store bought beans and the book of Psalms. It’s quiet, it’s soothing, and it helps me focus on the most important thing in the entire world right at the start of my day.
Consider what Moses wrote to the Israelites right after they left Egypt: “It shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt” (Exodus 13:9). God commanded the Israelites to see the Feast of the Unleavened Bread as a reminder of all the things God has done for them. By associating the feast with strong and vivid memories of redemption, the feast came alive for them, rather than something they did out of obligation.
Coffee is a superfluous example; it may be pleasant, but it’s not in any way comparable to God’s blessings. The point is, make your time of study in God’s Word a memorable one, and read the Word in an environment that accentuates the power of God.
I love Bible reading plans. I think they are excellent tools to help you cover a lot of ground in a shorter amount of time. They help keep you on track, hold you accountable, and give you a goal to shoot for every time.
They also can be a huge obstacle to your own Spiritual growth.
Let’s say your daily reading takes you through Romans one day, and you come across a passage that piques your interest. You would like to stay there for a while, but then you glance at your schedule and realize that if you stop, you won’t finish the reading for the day.
What do you do?
My advice, every single time, is to stay put and dive into wherever it is you stopped at. Obviously this verse stands out to you for a reason, and by simply moving on as if it never happened, you are robbing yourself of a rich and enlightening experience of unlocking the meaning of of that verse.
When I say “go deep,” I mean precisely that: study the context, historical, textual, societal, etc. Take the verse in view of the whole book: what does this mean given the audience that the writer is speaking to? Then examine the verse itself and read a few commentaries on what others have said (keeping in mind that they were written by men, and men ain’t always right).
Dive in and fully invest yourself in that verse or passage. I dare you to spend 30 minutes deeply engaged in a single verse of Scripture. One thing’s for sure, you will never look at it the same way again.
This is where the admonition appears in Scripture to meditate on God’s Word throughout the day. This was one of David’s favorite practices: “Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119:97). “Meditating on God’s Law” does not mean to sit in a corner and hum all day, hoping to receive further inspiration. Meditating is dwelling on the passage when you’re pumping gas, in line at the grocery store, or waiting to pick your kid up from school. Meditating is thinking, considering, and mulling a passage over and over in your head as you consider its impact.
Write it Down
I know some people frown on writing in the margins of your Bible, but I respectfully – and wholeheartedly – disagree.
Making notes about the text immediately next to the text helps you to revisit those thoughts over and over and over again. And it doesn’t even have to be permanent; these pens for instance allow you to erase at will, while still holding their print as long as you would like.
Publishers have gotten on board with this as well. Journalling Bibles like this one are perfect for making notes, and even encourage this by leaving space or drawing lines for you.
Again, I understand that some people are uncomfortable doing this, primarily because it can seem like you are guilty of “taking away” and “adding to” the Word of God (Revelation 22:18-19). If that is the case, may I suggest a simple journal instead? Just remember to keep it close by whenever you study, so you can make sure you are tracking your thoughts and growing as a result.
These days, there is literally no excuse to have the Bible with you at all times. Whether it’s having a Bible app on your phone, or bookmarking a favorite webpage (like www.coffeeandabible.com, for instance? Sorry for the shameless plug), God’s Word has never been more accessible and more understandable than it is today.
Embrace the many mediums you can digest the Word of God. Listening to the Bible on audio is a great way to reinforce what you’re reading at the same time. Find a movie that uses the Bible as its script, like this one, and watch it together with your family. Start a small group on social media with others – either create one or join an existing group – and contribute regularly with your thoughts and prayers. There are entire communities dedicate to one specific book of the Bible; find one, and become active in it.
Not only will you grow more as a result, but you will also find yourself looking forward to engaging with them every single day.
Don’t Give Up
This one might be the most important of all, because the temptation to throw in the towel after you skip a day is incredibly strong. You broke a streak, you’re now behind, and you’ll have to read double the next day (as if that’s a bad thing).
Instead of giving up, remember the words of Solomon: “For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity” (Proverbs 24:16).
It is a sign of strength to jump back on a reading program after you’ve missed a day, not weakness. Don’t listen to Satan’s discouragement, telling you that you’ll miss again, that you’re an awful person because you missed out, that your priorities are all out of whack – pick the Bible back up and keep moving forward.
Those are some of my best tips; I hope they help you as well, if for nothing else than to help you come with some ideas of your own. I know I am not the leading expert on this, so what are your tips? Feel free to e-mail me at brady@coffeeandaBible.com to let me know, and maybe we’ll do a sequel to this in the future and include yours