Reading your Bible can be a life-giving habit this year. Charles Spurgeon said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” The more we read the Bible, the more likely we are to wish we read more of it. That’s what the State of the Bible 2019 found when they surveyed people on how consistently they interacted with the Bible and how much it shaped their choices and relationships. Based on people’s responses, people were placed into five different categories according to their engagement with the Bible: disengaged, neutral, friendly, engaged, and centered.
Fifty-six percent of all adults “wish that they used the Bible more”—but that rose to 80% among Bible-friendly adults, 89% for Bible-engaged, and 94% for Bible-centered. So research tells us that the more someone engages with God’s Word the more they long to engage God’s Word. Reading the Scripture develops our taste buds to read it more.
So can you change your habits of reading your Bible to create more and better times in God’s Word?
1. Start small and specific.
When we get excited about reading God’s Word more, we sometimes want to try everything at once—waking up earlier, journaling more, praying longer, and trying a new study method in a single day. That can be exciting, but it’s rarely sustainable. Instead, look for one foundational discipline, and start with that. Work on that one habit for a few weeks before you add another habit.
So maybe you never have enough time for reading your Bible. Until you’re able to set aside time to read God’s Word, a hundred new ways to spend that time won’t be helpful. Instead, your first step could be waking up 30 minutes earlier—or using your lunch break or evenings to get into God’s Word. Once you have built that first habit and are spending time in God’s Word, you can start adding habits for how to spend that time.
2. Set a time and place.
Did you brush your teeth this morning? Your friends hope so—but can you remember the moment when you did? Did you spend time deciding whether to brush your teeth or what sink to use? What reminded you to brush your teeth? As our habits solidify, they become so natural that we do them without thinking. We want spending time with God to be so instinctive that we don’t have to spend time deciding whether or not we’ll do it. And for that to happen, it helps to decide ahead of time what will trigger that habit, which means planning when and where you’ll read the Bible.
Here’s what that could look like: You wake up at 6:00, and as soon as you get up, you know your first step is to make coffee, and then you know it’s time to sit down with your Bible. That simple sequence takes away all the decisions of what to do first or what apps you might want to check. Instead, you are sitting down with an open Bible before you’ve even had to think about it.
3. Know what you’ll skip.
Our time is finite. That means that finding an extra 15 minutes every day means taking 15 minutes from something else. It seems obvious, but planning for this beforehand helps us to decide what to take that time away from. That way, adding in a habit doesn’t double-book our mornings, divide our attention, and rush our routines.
So plan ahead of time: Can you give up 15 minutes of sleep for that Scripture reading? Can you prep breakfasts over the weekend or pack lunch the night before? Cut down on morning email time? Wait to check Reddit or Twitter until the evening?
It takes 15 minutes a day to read the Bible chronologically with the CSB Day-by-Day Chronological Bible! The CSB is the translation I use in my personal reading, my studying, and my teaching. And reading your Bible chronologically helps you grasp the overarching story of the Bible.
4. Make it a retreat.
Yes, it’s a spiritual discipline, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unpleasant. Reading the Scripture is time with your heavenly Father. It is a chance to be replenished by His love and reoriented by His truth. So what can you do to remind yourself that this is a feast of grace, not a daily chore? Brew some coffee or tea, get comfortable, and grab a seat by a window where the sunrise can remind you of God’s creativity. James K. A. Smith wrote, “The orientation of the heart happens from the bottom up, through the formation of our habits of desire. Learning to love God takes practice.”