Habit can often seem like a bit of a boring word. Something we do without thinking about it, a bad habit, a compulsion rather than an intentional choice. But with some things, a habit can be so beneficial. Healthy eating habits, good habits of tidying before going to bed, all of them can lead to a richer and easier life. For several years, I didn’t really have a solid Bible reading habit. It was that kind of thing that I always aspired to do, resolved to be better at, and usually failed at pretty quickly. That lead to feeling bad that I’d not read my Bible in weeks and then it would just get worse!
A few years ago I decided to get up earlier and just do it. My plan didn’t always work out- sometimes my a small person would wake before me or shortly after- but I carried on and read even though she was around. I made the morning (before breakfast or getting dressed or anything) my time to do it, and now I can say that I have read my Bible almost every day since.
I’ve been in and out of good and bad phases with this habit over the course of my journey as a Christian, so I’m not assuming that this will stay the same way forever. I’m sure my habit will have to change and adjust as our lives change and children get older, but here’s some tips of things that have worked for me, and might help you out too.
Set a dedicated time.
Different times work for different people and phases of life. At one point as a teenager I used to read my Bible after getting home from school- now it’s in the morning before things get busy and I get too exhausted to read without falling asleep in the evening. Don’t restrict it though- just because you’ve read your Bible once that day doesn’t mean you can’t listen to worship music, dip back into a different part, look up a word in the index that you’re intrigued about.
Find a time when you have time not to rush, to learn and not to just read the words and tick it off mentally. If you have upside down days, or an irregular schedule, align it mentally with something else that you have to do daily- like brushing your teeth or a mealtime, getting into bed or getting a drink. You can easily make visual reminders to yourself – so if you see your toothbrush you remember Bible reading! I’ve started setting reminders on my phone at certain times for things I’m bad at remembering- so you can always do that to get started.
Make a plan.
There are so many ways to do this. Choose a book and read a chapter a day. Go over to She Reads Truth and join in with what everyone on there is reading. Get a book with devotionals in it that gives you a passage to read each day, like this one. Google a Bible reading plan, or start with the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) and get to know Jesus, meet Him face to face. Ask a friend what they have enjoyed reading. There’s loads of plans on YouVersion, a free Bible app which you can even find from your phone or tablet, on loads of topics and books in the Bible.
Make it enjoyable.
I started reading my Bible first thing at the same time as I was doing a writing challenge on the blog, and somehow the two went together. I would potter downstairs in the darkness, to a still and quiet living room, and snuggle up under blankets- sometimes with a hot chocolate- to have some time with my heavenly Father. It’s hard to get out of bed early especially when you’re me and you just want to sleep forever- but being able to look forward to a nice drink or a pretty notebook or a special space can make a lot of difference mentally.
Make it you.
If you hate reading, listen to the Bible. If you love writing, or drawing- journal about the passage you’ve read and your thoughts, or draw what comes to mind when you read a verse. If you’re visual, build a lego version of the story – you can even find some lego animations online! Don’t feel like Bible reading can only be done one way. God invented our world, our senses, and you- He knows how you work and doesn’t expect you to come and chat to Him and listen to Him in a certain way. You don’t have to read whole chunks, you don’t have to read chronologically, you can just sit in a verse and mull it over. Whatever works for you.
To a friend, to social media, tick off the days in your diary. It is not worth beating yourself up if you miss a day, forget, go on holiday and get completely out of pattern. God’s grace is for us all, for all situations, and He does not require us to read the Bible in order for us to earn His love. God’s love comes to us freely, like the love of a spouse or parent- it is unconditional and you don’t have to check the Bible or prayer or any other box in order for Him to love or want you to be His child, with Him forever.
But if in response to His love you want to get to know Him better- just how we spend time with a loved one- get into your Bible! Being accountable can really help keep you motivated, and you might have a friend who can encourage you or point you to something good to read if you’re struggling to know where to start.
I hope some of these tips are helpful, they are things which have really helped me in the past. There are some more great links in this post of other resources and ideas which could be useful. Most of all remember- you don’t have to read your Bible- but you get to. What a great way to get to know the person who loves us most of all.