The benefits of reading the Bible are almost too numerous to count. If we want to develop spiritual disciplines that help us to grow our faith, then this is a simple first step.
But how do we go about this? What are some ways that we can implement this into our lives? All too often, I hear people say that they’ve tried to read the Bible, but either get discouraged, or fail in their attempt to stick to it.
In the past, I’ve written several articles about how to go about creating an environment where Bible reading and study can flourish.
I’ve used several different styles of Bible reading over the years, and have found one that fits my life pretty well for the time being. I seem to gain a lot from what I read.
I use a system where I read ten different chapters a day. Using this system, the Bible is divided into ten different lists. The idea is to read one chapter from each list daily. When you reach the end of the list, you simply start it over. Some lists are longer, others are shorter, so each one will end at different times. This guarantees you will be reading different portions of the Bible together every day. Many times, you’ll see correlations you never knew were there, simply because you haven’t ever read those passages together before. It’s pretty incredible. You can read more details about this system here.
Along with that, I use what I call the Golden Nugget approach to Bible reading. In my reading, I look for three or four things that God causes to stand out to me. These get written in my journal, where I can see them for the rest of the day. My assumption is that if God causes these to jump out, then he may want to teach me something about that passage or principle throughout my day. And so I keep an eye out for his teaching. You can see more on this approach here.
Merging both of these systems, I’ve created the ability to gain as much as I can from my Bible reading. These two plans have helped me immensely. Of course, this probably won’t work for everyone, but if it helps you, feel free to use it, and tweak it to fit your needs.
If not, you can try the 2014 Bible Reading Plan that I created. This is another tool, containing three plans that will help you spend time in the Bible daily. It’s a free resource for you to download.
Using the right plan is only half of the issue though. There are several other tips that you can implement to help you gain the most from your time spent reading the Bible. I’ve shared this before, but I think it bears repeating it here.
- Remove distractions. Turn off your phone, iPod, TV, etc. Don’t read the Bible on your computer, where FaceBook or other websites could be a distraction. Distractions keep you from concentrating. Removing all that you can will help ensure success in your Bible reading.
- Use a reading plan. This frees you from deciding where to begin each time. It also ensures that you read a broad selection of texts over time. There are a ton of excellent resources that can help you with that. In the 2014 Bible Reading Plan, there is a page with a dozen additional plans online.
- Pick the right Bible. Pick a good version; one that’s easy to understand and that you like to read. Make sure it’s a Bible that you like, as well. Maybe it’s a study Bible with lots of notes, or a travel Bible that you can easily carry. This makes it easier to read daily with consistency.
- Choose a regular time for reading. This creates a habit of always reading at the same time. It also creates anticipation.
- Set a length of time for your reading, and stick to it. Reading a lot is good, but your mind can only process so much at any one time. Reading too much may cause you to miss the importance of something God wants you to understand.
- Choose a regular reading place. Read in the same place every day. It may be your desk, a favorite chair, the kitchen table, your bed. Again, consistency is key.
- Begin and end your reading time with prayer. Ask God to help you understand and apply what you’ve read.
- Take the time to understand what you read. Look up relevant passages. Consult a commentary. Not understanding a Scripture fully can cause you to take it out of context.
- Ask questions. If something doesn’t make sense, write it down, and ask someone, like a church leader, for insight.
- Write in your Bible. Make notes in the margins. Highlight. It’s ok. This way, you can come back to what you’ve learned over and over. You can also use different colored pens or highlighters for emphasis.
- Journal about what you read. This can help you process what you’ve read and understand it better. You can write out your prayers, too.
- Find someone that you can talk to about what you’re reading. Have them ask you frequently how you’re doing. This can help hold you accountable.
- Apply. Apply. Apply. The book of James tells us that the person who reads God’s Word but doesn’t apply it is like the man who sees himself in the mirror, but walks away and forgets what he looks like. Reading God’s Word is supposed to change you. Apply it to your life so that you can grow. Understand how it applied to the original audience, as well as to you, today.
- Read daily. God’s Word will not change your life unless you are consistently, frequently going back to it. If you’re not reading the Bible daily, you’re not growing!
- Reward yourself when you achieve a Bible reading goal. Finish reading Genesis? Grab a snack, take a walk. Give yourself a pat on the back for accomplishing what you’ve set out to do.
- Enjoy your time in the Word. Are you a coffee drinker? Make a good cup to enjoy with the Word. Your goal is to make your time in the Word as enjoyable and memorable as possible. This will help you anticipate your time with God daily.
- Be inflexible. Make it a habit to spend time in God’s Word every day. Do not miss this time for anything, if at all possible. The devil will do everything he can to keep you from growing. Prioritize this time and stick to it.
I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I will say it again frequently:
The goal is not to get through the Bible this year; but to let the Bible get through you.
Spending time in your Bible on a daily basis is one of the keys to establishing spiritual disciplines that help you grow in your faith.
What other tips could you add to this list? What have you found to be helpful as you spend time daily reading the Bible? You can share your thoughts in the comment section below.