Over the last few years, I have become aware of an epidemic. The epidemic of Not Reading Our Bibles.
“I just don’t have time.”
“I used to, but…”
“Reading just isn’t my THING.”
“Every time I try, you know, the kids…”
We have mental obstacles that essentially say, “There’s no way I can do this.”
The simple lack of a plan will prevent you from opening your Bible on most days.
God’s Word is your soul’s daily nourishment, your daily intake of Truth. Have you been starving yourself? There are deeper heart issues behind why we avoid Bible reading, but let’s just get past the inertia and start a simple habit. God will work on your heart as you continue to show up and take in His Truth.
These 6 Keys will help you remove those mental obstacles and build a solid Bible reading habit.
6 Keys to a Daily Bible Reading Habit
1. Pick a spot.
Choose a place you can sit comfortably, that is usually available and clear of other distractions. Your Bible, journal, and a pen can live there. Perhaps think of a spot you already sit in daily. I like my desk because I journal, or write in the margins of my Bible, and like a writing surface.
When you pick a spot and commit to be in the spot daily, it removes some mental obstacles. “Where is my Bible?” You know exactly where it is: in your spot. “Where should I sit to do this?” You’ve already decided. If you have to figure it out every day, you are less likely to go ahead and do it.
Don’t think this one isn’t important. Having a consistent spot will go miles toward training your mind to make a habit out of this. Think of other things we keep in certain spots: vitamins, tooth brush, the remote. Those are things we don’t want to have to go looking for when it’s time for that habit.
Give this habit of worship priority, and plan ahead.
2. Pick a time of day.
There is a common myth that you have to do this in the morning. I was taught growing up that this was best. But if that standard is actually keeping you from opening your Bible at all, it’s time to rethink.
Yes, there are benefits to reading first thing. You get it done and don’t have to forget to remember it later. It starts you off on the right foot mentally/spiritually. It’s “giving God the first fruits of my day.”
Okay. Let’s take a deep breath. There are some key questions to ask yourself when picking a time of day (or place in your routine) to build your Bible reading habit into. Because those first fruits? It really means the best you have. And maybe morning is not that in your life.
~When will I be able to focus mentally? (You are reading, after all.)
~When can I be basically distraction free? (Even if you have to make it that way.)
~What can I realistically stick with in my routine?
Not everybody will be able to answer “first thing in the morning” to these questions. The important thing is are you reading your Bible at all? Are you making it a priority to seek Him?
Just like picking your spot, don’t think this isn’t important. Think about your routine. You may have to adjust something in your routine slightly, so put your brain to working on this. Maybe even write down your routine for a typical day, so you have a visual to think about this.
One of my favorite habit-building secrets is to “tie it on” to another routine in your day that is already a solid habit. Tie a new habit onto an existing habit. Here are some ideas:
~When you sit down with your morning coffee.
~First thing when you get to your job.
~Before/after/during a meal. (You’re sitting down anyway!)
~Right before you shower.
~In the pick-up line at school.
In any of these situations, you are surrendering to what you were made for: to exalt God. There is no wrong time of day for that.
3. Place a bookmark.
New habits are always built one small action at a time. Once that action is a habit, add more as the Lord leads you. I always recommend reading through a book of the Bible at a time (instead of skipping around to different passages every day), and begin by reading one chapter a day.
This bookmark method removes the mental obstacle: “I don’t know what I should read today.” You just open and read where you left off. Missed a day? Just open and read where your bookmark is the next day, in your spot at your time of day.
You can add other reading, like a devotional or a Psalm, or even have multiple bookmarks in multiple books of the Bible, and read a little in each book every time you show up to read. But build the Bible opening habit by starting with just one book, one chapter a day.
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
These first three have been the logistics of this habit. Now we get to the intangible things that bind it all together.
4. Pray for understanding and joy.
Take a moment to be in awe that God is about to speak to You through His Words. Have a teachable attitude. Pray that God will help you understand what you read and that He will give you joy in what you read.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some things you can pray here:
“Speak to my heart.”
“Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.” Psalm 25:4-5
“Help me understand what I read.” (Keeping it simple is okay!)
“Thank You for Your Word in my hands. Put it in my heart, and help me to find joy in it.”
Then read one chapter at your bookmark. Of course, this is my recommendation for someone who does not already have a consistent Bible reading habit. You can read as many chapters as you want and have time for! But habit building must begin small and build from a solid foundation of consistently showing up.
5. Keep Showing Up
Think of all the other habits that you keep showing up for: a job you don’t like because you need a job, changing dirty diapers because you’re a good mom, daily household chores. Think about learning an instrument. You keep showing up to lessons and daily practice to get better. You keep showing up to brush your teeth.
You are capable of being consistent when it matters.
And this spiritual discipline matters more than any of those other things. Jesus’ words ring true for us here again:
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
IMPORTANT: If you missed your Bible reading time today, you didn’t fail. You’re going to get up tomorrow, and you’re going to keep showing up.
Here is where the “6 Keys” come in. It’s a flow, and you just keep coming back to it. You’re going to go to your spot at your time of day, and open up to your bookmark. Then before you read a word, you’re going to pray. Pray that God will help you understand what you read and that He will give you joy in what you read.
This isn’t just a task that you’re checking off your list. This is your relationship with God. This is your eternal joy in Him. This is worship. Pray that He will help you do exactly that.
And then the next day, you’re going to show up again to your spot, at your time of day, open to your bookmark, pray for understanding and joy, and read. Then… you got it: KEEP SHOWING UP.
6. Have accountability
It remains a fact that we are more likely to follow through and do a thing, if we know someone will ask us if we did that thing.
Who do you have in your life who would do this for you? I find a weekly check-in to be very motivating to use my time wisely during the week and do what I committed to do.
And let’s say the answer is “No, I didn’t read my Bible this week.” The best accountability partner for habit-building is someone who will trouble-shoot with you, figure out what your obstacles were and how to overcome them next week. Make a plan together that your partner will ask you about the next week.
If you are interested in having me personally be your accountability, I have a group on Facebook that reads together. We have a daily chapter to read, printable reading plans to check off, weekly check-ins, and I regularly share tips, wisdom, encouragement, and resources to help you grow in this habit of worship. We would love to have you join us:
Do you have other tips and ideas to share about building a daily Bible reading habit? Please comment and share them! As always, let me know how I can pray for you.