As of late, I’ve had some great discussions concerning personal Bible reading. While this spiritual disciplines post sparked some great conversation, I’ve also been trying to step up my intentionality in training my family, friends, and anyone who wants to listen concerning the need to read the Bible. For many years, Christians have called time in the Word and prayer a quiet time.
While Christians talk about the importance of a quiet time, it is rare to hear people articulate how someone trained them to do a quiet time.
I don’t have a perfect recipe, and I am by far not a perfect example, but I do feel the responsibility to share what I have learned along the way (Col. 1:28-29). If Scripture teaches us to train ourselves for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4:7), we have to realize that work will be involved. We also must remember that any type of training progresses as you go along.
As I’ve talked with many people who are trying to get better regarding their Bible intake, I am realizing there are some common denominators that set us up for failure. Some are unrealistic expectations, some are laziness, some are from guilt, and many other reasons. If you have experienced justification from the Lord, and you expect to receive glorification one day since heaven is your anticipated forever home, we must realize that this discipline is part of our sanctification.
If you truly have been born again, you need to grow up. You need to develop. It’s time to train.
Per my discussions, here are 7 reasons I believe your Bible reading may be inconsistent:
- You don’t know where the finish line is. Some of us are running just to run but don’t have a finish line to which we can point. If we commit our work to the LORD, our plans will be established (Prov. 16:3). As we plan our way, the LORD establishes our steps (Prov. 16:9). Don’t approach the Bible without some Bible reading plan. Know where you are going. The Bible is a book. That means it has sections and a flow to it. Respect that as you approach it and make a plan.
- You attempt a marathon before you have completed a lap. Some of you reading are already feeling guilty that you haven’t read the complete Bible yet and you are pondering if that should be your plan. Can I just offer some advice? Try reading an entire book of the Bible before you read the entire Bible. Read straight through James or 1 Peter. Once you get that under you belt, read one of the gospels. Go completely through Acts. Once you start developing those muscles, you can work towards reading the entire Bible. That is a worthy goal, but you need to make steps to get there as you mature (1 Cor. 14:20; 1 Cor. 13:11; Eph. 4:15; Heb. 6:1). You must count the cost before you begin (Luke 14:28).
- You don’t have a workout partner. It’s a lot easier to hit the snooze button and avoid the gym when you don’t have someone there waiting for you. Another person wanting the same thing helps sharpen you (Prov. 27:17) and encourages you (Heb. 3:13) to increase in love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24-25). Get a plan and get a partner!
- You get stagnate with your time when you don’t have an adequate amount of time. This trap is everywhere. If you feel as if you don’t have the preferred amount of time available, you just neglect it all together. Whether you think 30 minutes or an hour is the most holy of times to spend in the Word, you feel defeated if you can’t attain that and so you simply throw in the towel. I want to be real careful here, but if you only have 5 minutes to spend reading the Bible, then read the Bible for 5 minutes. I want to be careful because I think many of us are not using our time wisely (Eph. 5:15-16). Others of us are are a season of life where time simply is harder to come by. If that is you, use the time you actually have (Ps. 90:12). If you have to read for 5-10 minutes in the morning cause your kids make it too difficult, if you have to read during your lunch break, if you have to listen to the Word on your commute to work, whatever it takes – do something. Make sure you evaluate if you are wasting time on Netflix, Facebook, or some other distraction, but don’t get stagnate with the time because your perception is you don’t have an adequate amount of time. The best time is the time you actually have (or make room for).
- You aren’t preparing yourself for success. In preparing for exercise, you get the right equipment, stretch, get your favorite music, etc. What are you doing to prepare to meet with the Lord? Put your Bible out where you will encounter it. Leave your Bible app on your phone as you go to sleep. Put on an alarm for a few minutes earlier. There is wisdom in preparation (Prov. 24:27; Prov. 6:6-8).
- You never push yourself. Are you losing desire to read? Do you feel like you have hit a plateau? Maybe it is because you have. Any type of discipline strives not to maintain but to improve. We are looking for a growth in the knowledge of the Word (Col. 1:9-10; 2 Pet. 3:18; Eph. 4:15). So you have completed the half-marathon? Great! Now it is time to train for the full. Keep moving!
- You forget the purpose for why you are running. If anything other than godliness is your purpose for spiritual disciplines, you will lose momentum (1 Tim. 4:7). Let that thought be the driving nature behind your disciplines – you desire to be more like Jesus. If that is not your goal, you will struggle with the desire to get out of bed and get to work.
If you struggled with consistently reading the Word, you are not alone, but that doesn’t mean that you have to remain where you are. I pray these thoughts can help you make at least one step this very day!