7 things to help you actually read the Bible
How to read the whole thing this year – and not give up
Have you seen the meme “But first, coffee”? Coffee is powerful. And many people don’t function too well until after they’ve had their morning cup. “But first, coffee” is a statement of a daily priority.
I’ve recently been thinking about the power of God’s word and, therefore, the priority of God’s word in our daily lives.
We are already in the middle of January … and you might already be discouraged about your Bible reading
Psalm 19 shows both of these things. First, that psalm teaches us about the power of God’s word; it “revives the soul… makes wise the simple” (verse 7), “rejoices the heart… enlightens the eyes” (verse 8).
Second, we learn about the type of priority God’s word ought to have in the life of a believer: “More to be desired are they [the word of God] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” (verse 11).
It is my conviction that before we drink our coffee, before we scroll our Facebook feed, before we eat our breakfast, we read the Bible.
To help myself and others prioritise God’s word, I launched a new Bible Reading Podcast – “But first, Bible.” – on January 1.
“But first, Bible.” is a commitment to prioritise time in God’s word. The goal of the podcast is to encourage people to read the Bible each day. It will take less than 10 minutes per day to stay on top of this plan and read the whole Bible in a year. In each episode, I offer a few thoughts on one of that day’s readings.
We are already in the middle of January, and some people are now going to the gym less often than they did during the start of January. It might be like that with your Bible reading too. You began with high hopes of reading every day, but you missed a couple of days and are feeling a bit discouraged about it already. On the horizon you can see work getting busier, classes starting again, and all the other diary items that will compete for your attention from the beginning of February.
The following are a few ideas to encourage you to stick at reading God’s word each day.
- SALVATION IS BY GRACE… and not by the frequency of your daily Bible reading. Any time you are disappointed about your Bible reading performance, remember that your salvation is dependent upon Jesus’ performance. He’s already nailed it, literally. Delight in the Bible each day knowing that God has already saved you through the death and resurrection of his Son.
- PAPER IS YOUR FRIEND… I love tech, apps, websites etc., but my guess is that often our smartphones get in the way of reading God’s word. My preferred method of Bible reading is with my trusty old paper bible. I have my reading plan pasted in the front cover and write out a key verse in my paper journal with a non-digital pen.
- BUY AN ALARM CLOCK… Most of us use our phones as an alarm clock. After five successive snoozes, it’s very easy to find yourself scrolling social media for the first 15 minutes of your day. Charge your phone in the lounge room and get used to an alarm clock.
- BE PREDICTABLE… Work out the time that will suit you most and stick to that routine every day. Coffee: check. Comfy chair: check. Bible: check. I personally like doing my reading first thing in the morning. Reading first thing sets up my day well, and if I do miss my morning read, I know I’ve got the rest of the day to reschedule some time with God in his word.
- FAITH COMES THROUGH HEARING… This might go against two and three above, but digital isn’t all bad! Far from it. I’ve personally found listening to audio Bibles to be something that has helped me to stay on track while reading and avoid mental drift. At other times, if I’ve missed my reading in the morning, I listen to the Bible while I walk to the station and then commute into the city.
- DON’T TRY AND CATCH UP… I think many Christians begin the year with a Bible reading plan, but then end up giving up the plan because they fall too far behind. By all means, catch up a day here or there. But sometimes you just need to write-off a whole week or month if you’ve fallen so far behind.
- READ THE BIBLE IN COMMUNITY… Do the same plan as others in your Christian community and encourage one another with the things you’re reading. You could even set up a group chat with a couple of friends and take a moment each day to share a reflection from your own reading. Together you can spur one another on to keep at throughout the year.
Podcasts are all the rage at the moment, with true crime, comedy, fitness, tech reviews, sermons, and the like filling our headphones. I hope that subscribing to my new podcast will be a daily reminder in your notifications not to give up, but make time for God’s word in your day.
I’ve personally found it really beneficial to read the whole Bible every year. Do I nail it every year? Nope, not at all. But the accumulative effect has been that over the past ten years or more, I’ve been consistently letting the whole of God’s word wash over me multiple times.
If you’d like to follow along with “But first, Bible.” head here for all the details.