If you’ve ever heard a friend say, “I’m reading through the Bible this year” or, “I’m hearing from God regularly during my daily quiet time with Him,” you may have asked yourself, “How do they do that?” We all live time-compressed lives, and carving out the time to read and pray daily may sound like a daunting challenge. Many people give up before they get started.
Reading the Bible daily is the most beneficial spiritual growth habit a believer could have. Research has demonstrated that the number one factor in year-over-year spiritual growth of Christians is the daily reading of God’s Word (The Shape of Faith to Come, p.68).
If you want to start reading your Bible daily, you’ll have a better chance of developing a habit of spending time with God if you follow these seven helpful hints.
1. Calendar a time for your daily reading. Make it a priority by calendaring it as you would any other important meeting. We set appointments for much less important things like oil changes, haircuts, and lunches. How much more important is it to have a daily time with the Jesus? If you could see my daily calendar, you’d see that I have mapped out a daily time in the morning for this. I keep it like I would any other appointment. It is there to remind me that spending time with God is important.
2. Pick a place for your daily Bible reading. I have a favorite recliner in my home – it’s “dad’s chair.” I love to begin my day by sitting in this chair with my Bible, my copy of aDaily Discipleship Guide (more on that next!), and a cup of coffee. I find that meeting with God in the same place each day helps me to build memories of what God says during my daily time in His Word.
3. Choose a resource to help guide your reading. Lifeway has developed a Daily Discipleship Guide in each of its curriculum lines. This relatively new study tool is used in my group’s Bible study time each week, but following those pages used in class are 5 daily readings that expand on my group’s study, taking me deeper into God’s Word daily. It has become my go-to resource for daily Bible reading.
3. Recruit an accountability partner (or two). When you are establishing a new habit, it helps to have someone hold you accountable. You’ll want to invite one or two people to ask you whether or not you are keeping your daily appointment with God. Give them permission to also ask what God is saying to you in those moments. You’ll do the same for them, and together you’ll stay on track.
4. Don’t stop if you miss a day. Things happen. You hit snooze on the alarm one too many times, or another appointment interferes with your daily quiet time with God. Once you miss a day or two, the temptation may be to stop. Don’t! Instead, have your daily reading at another time before the day is over. If you miss an entire day or two, don’t quit – just pick back up where you left off and get going again.
5. Reward yourself. While meeting with God is its own reward of course, consider giving yourself small incentives for consistently having your daily devotional time. For instance, at the end of your first week of meeting with God, take yourself out for coffee or a special dessert. Do something like this at the end of each week, and consider building up to something bigger in time.
Beginning a daily devotional time with God can truly be a life-changing experience. You have every possibility of growing closer to the Lord than ever before as you get to know Him through prayer and the reading of His Word.
Your time with God will be motivated by your deepening love for Him and the grace He has poured out on your life. Allow yourself to experience the blessings of spending time with your Savior, and allow Him to transform your heart so that you reflect the image of Christ to others in your family, neighborhood, and workplace.
Contributed by Ken Braddy, director of Sunday School, Lifeway.