I’ve started a lot of things that I never got around to finishing. Reading “Moby Dick,” learning to speak Spanish, and crafting the next great American novel are just a few of my unfinished projects. Okay, in the spirit of full transparency, I never even began the novel.
Starting things can be far easier than sticking with them for the long haul. Even if it’s something wonderful or vital or life-changing. God’s Word is all of those things and more, yet we often struggle to study and read the Bible on a regular, ongoing basis. We start with good intentions, then life gets in the way. But, we can stay motivated. Try one or more of the following tips to keep you in the Word day after day and for a lifetime.
- Remember why – Reminding ourselves of the value of the Bible for our lives is a good first step. According to Psalm 1:3, when the truth of God’s Word is our regular diet, we not only thrive spiritually and produce fruit for His Kingdom, we develop a deep relationship with God. (See also “4 Spiritual Benefits from God’s Word.”)
- Get a new perspective – For too many years, I felt obligated to read the Bible. Even though I developed a strong habit of reading every day, it was based on an attitude of “have to” rather than “get to.” I felt guilty when I missed a day because I was acting out of legalism. But God showed me that spending time with Him is a great privilege and joy, not an obligation. Every time we read the Bible, it’s an opportunity to encounter the God of the universe and know Him better.
- Have a plan – Haphazard reading only sets us up for failure. We are more apt to read each day if we know in advance where we’ll be reading. Our plan can be as simple as reading through a book of the Bible. There are also hundreds, if not thousands, Bible reading plans available. I have several free plans on my website. Some Bibles include built-in reading plans. There are also lots of plans on websites and in apps. “She Reads Truth,” com, and the You Version Bible app are three of my favorites. Daily devotional books can be a helpful tool if we use them correctly. (See “How to Get the Most Out of Your Devotional Book” for some tips.)
- Find your sweet spot – Dictionary.com defines “sweet spot” as the “particular set of conditions that will achieve the most desirable or effective outcome.” If our desired outcome is a daily – or almost daily – time with God in His Word, then we need to discover the conditions – the time and place – that will best foster that. For instance, I am a morning person, so I start my day in the Bible. For you it may be your lunch break or after the kids go to bed. The important thing is to set a time that will generally work for you every day and when interruptions will be minimal. The setting for your quiet time is just as important. Find a place that is comfortable, private, and doesn’t depend on the weather. Best time, best place, your sweet spot.
- Organize your tool box – In a kitchen drawer, I keep a small hammer with different sized screw drivers built into the handle. Whenever I see a loose screw I don’t put off tightening it because the tool is at hand. Likewise, keeping our quiet time tools together in one place removes another roadblock to getting in the Word. We are always ready. Gather the needed tools – your Bible, your reading plan, a journal, pens, highlighters, or whatever else you need to study the text. Then put them in a ready container. You can use a basket, a tote bag, or even a tool box! (See “Bible Highlighting for More Effective Study.”)
- Find a cheering section – Everything is better when we share it with a friend. That’s why some form of accountability for our Bible reading will keep us coming back. It could be a friend, a spouse, or a formal accountability partner. Use the same reading plan and set a regular time to talk about what God has been teaching you. An organized study group is another effective way to help you stay in the Word. I lead a Facebook group for women called “Reading the Bible Together.” Women from all over the world read the same passage each day and discuss it online together. It certainly encourages me to stay in the Word every day.
- Plan for success – In our excitement to commit or recommit to God’s Word, we may set lofty goals like spending an hour every morning or reading the Bible through in 90 days. But unrealistic goals only set us up for failure. Instead, let’s set goals that are achievable, but also keep us moving forward. Start with what you feel you can do, then build on it. If you’ve had success at spending ten minutes each day in the Bible, bump it up to fifteen, not thirty. When fifteen becomes a solid, doable habit, add time. If you’ve been getting in the Word three days a week for a while, bump it up to up to four or five, not seven.
- Keep it interesting – Prayer and God’s Word are the foundation for our regular time with God. But, adding other elements here and there will keep things interesting. Music can turn our hearts to worship. Journaling can focus our prayers and be a lasting reminder of how God is working in our lives. One day we could read a large portion of Scripture and another day mediate deeply on just a few verses. Something as simple as reading from a different translation can enhance our time with Him.
- Take advantage of technology – Putting our daily time with God on the calendar and setting an alert is a good start. Many online sites and apps not only offer Bible reading plans, they’ll also send reminder notifications. The You Version Bible and She Reads Truth are two great ones to check out. Some of these sites will even “read” the passage out loud. That’s a great tool for audible style learners.
- Celebrate small accomplishments – Meeting short-term goals – like reading through one Bible book – is a great reason to celebrate! We could enjoy a scoop of ice cream or a Facetime call with a friend. Choose a reward that will be incentive for you to keep moving toward the next goal and the next.
- Implement offensive measures – Distractions fill our world, our homes, and our daily lives. They wage war against our good intentions to be in God’s Word. Since email, social media and the like are big distractions for me, I committed to not opening my lap top until after I’ve spent time in God’s Word. Determine your biggest distractions and time-suckers then set some boundaries to eliminate the threat.
- Give yourself grace – Legalism will push the joy out of our relationship with Christ. Yes, we want to do everything to honor our commitment to spend time with Him, but some days are harder than others. When your daily time in the Word doesn’t happen, simply try again tomorrow.
What are some things you do to stay motivated to read the Bible?