We live in a time in which there is unprecedented access to Bible study tools—multiple excellent translations, study helps, internet resources, Bible software, phone apps, etc.—yet we are also more distracted than ever. Personal devotion to God through Bible reading is a blessing you do not want to skip. And Scripture tells us of the importance of spending time in the Word. Yet, so many Christians struggle to read the Bible daily. It does not have to be that way. If you follow the 8 practical steps below, you can make daily Bible reading a habit for life.
1 – Pick a Time
Good intentions without good plans are good for nothing. If you really want to develop the habit of daily Bible study, you need to do more than just want it. Before you decide what you will read, you first need to decide when you will read.
Personally, I like to read my Bible first thing in the morning. This is because I am naturally an early riser and because I like to have God’s Word set the tone for the rest of my day. But you don’t have to read in the morning. If you want to make daily Scripture reading a habit, the important thing is that you actually pick a specific time when you will read.
It doesn’t matter if it’s after work, before bed, in the morning, or on your lunch break, the important thing is that you aren’t vague. None of this, “oh I’ll do it in the morning, but if I’m too tired, I’ll do it before bed.” No! That’s not how habits work. You can’t create backup plans. You need to hold yourself to a specific planned time, and then just do it
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2 – Make a Plan
Have you ever woken up, grabbed your Bible, and then just flipped to a random book and started reading? A few weeks later you come back and just do the same thing again. By now you’ve read the first chapter of about 5 epistles, random stuff from Judges, a few parables, and been through the 23rd Psalm 18 times.
It is difficult to develop consistency without a plan and it robs you of a motivating sense of progress. If each time you go to read your Bible you have to think real hard about what you’re going to read, it just makes it easier to procrastinate.
3 – Organize for Success
These are all obstacles that threaten to break your habit. To avoid these traps and really make daily Bible reading a habit that sticks you need to organize for success. These few organization tips can make a huge difference:
- Always read in the same spot
- Keep your space clean
- Print out your Bible reading plan and put it in your Bible
- Leave your Bible open to the next section
4 – Avoid Distractions
I love my Bible study software and the Bible apps on my phone. But I know myself too well to use those for my daily devotions. I know I will get distracted. I don’t even leave my phone close to me during my morning Bible reading because the temptation is too strong to “just check something real quick.” This is why we have phone cupboards, people!
5 – Use Helps
Many a noble voyage into habitual Bible reading has been scuttled on the rocks of ambition. You get all convicted about not studying the Bible as much as you should so you decide you are going to make up for lost time. You get your journaling Bible, your study Bible, fifteen commentaries, and both Greek and Hebrew lexicons. If you’re going to do this thing, you figure, you’re going to do this thing!
Sometimes we get excited about getting back in the Word and we bite off more than we can chew. But that’s a sure way to ensure you don’t really develop a daily Bible reading habit. Better to start small and build from there. Remember, the goal is to develop a habit. We need to become consistent first. We can add more chapters or complexity later. Get the routine down, and get it going consistently.
This is why I recommend devotionals and study Bibles. Even commentaries are great aids to daily Bible reading. Some people look down on this, but I’d rather be reading the Bible than boasting in my Moleskine and highlighter collection.
Get yourself a good study Bible like the MacArthur Study Bible and just read a chapter a day and all the notes. Or get a devotional that takes you through a book (I think its best to avoid topic devotionals because they too often take verses out of context and prevent you from seeing the overall flow of the Bible). Personally, I’ve been reading through John MacArthur’s New Testament Commentary series. It’s going to take a while, but both George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon highly recommended working one’s way through Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible.
So, don’t be afraid to use helps because it doesn’t make you “hardcore” enough. If it helps you to develop a consistent habit of daily Bible reading then I say go for it.
6 – Enlist Accountability
There is only one reason I get up every weekday at 4:30am and go to the gym. His name is Peter. I know if I skip a day I’m going to hear about it. So, I go.
In the same way, having someone or
Maybe you can’t get a big group together, but what about one friend from church, a family member, or even your spouse? The Word of God was given to the church, so studying it together is most fitting. Plus it keeps you honest about developing your habit of daily Bible reading.
7 – Share What You’re Learning
Another benefit of meeting with believers to discuss your daily Bible reading is that it gives you a chance to share what the Lord is teaching you from the Scriptures. Even if you don’t meet with someone regularly, you should still make a point of sharing what the Lord is teaching you through His Word.
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Sharing what you are learning in your daily habit of Bible reading not only blesses those with whom you share, it all encourages you to stick to the habit. When you get to explain something you’ve learned or applied from the Bible it gets you excited to keep learning more.
8 – Apply it to Your Life
The purpose of daily Bible reading is not just that you will know more. This isn’t research for a future Jeopardy run. You are trying to know more of what God’s Word says so that you can apply it. When we see our daily habit of Bible reading actually changing our lives, our thoughts, our attitudes, and our actions, it motivates us to keep on reading.
To apply what we are reading requires effort, however. We must actively be thinking about the meaning of a passage, and prayerfully seeking how it might apply to us. We need to take the time and sweat to meditate on how we can apply this particular passage to our lives. If you are applying the Word to your life, you will soon find that daily Bible reading has ceased being a chore and has subtly transformed itself into a joy. You will find your heart filled with more peace, more joy, and more solemn love for your Lord. Your friends will be blessed because you made daily Bible reading a habit.