Christian Counselor Seattle
Are you staring down New Year’s Day with a list of goals for personal growth? Is one of those goals to read your Bible more? What a fantastic idea. Let’s look at some practical ways for making that happen for you this year.First, what have you tried in the past that has not worked? Rather than repeat things that have failed in the past, consider why they may have failed. Maybe you got into a Bible journaling course, but don’t actually like to write. Perhaps you failed to account for how slowly you read. Are you trying to be a morning lark instead of the night owl that you usually are? Is there some kind of external expectation that has felt like pressure, sucking out the joy of reading the Bible?
There is no standard plan for reading the Bible. A healthy awareness of your tastes and tendencies can help you eliminate plans that are not a good fit for where you are right now.
Tips for reading Scripture.
Figure out if a morning routine can include some Bible time or might be better spent making breakfast with the kids. It’s your choice to make your lunch break a time for Scripture and reflection or socialization. Crawl in bed with a book and your Bible on the bedside table. Understanding yourself will help you prioritize how you take in the Word of God.
Think about where you could spend 10-15 minutes with your Bible each day.
Pick a short book from the Old or New Testament. Consider spending a little time each day in a longer book until you finish. Unless you are in a kids program no prizes are being handed out each week for most hours of reading or the longest book completed. The point is to create a habit of being filled by the living word of God, not be better than or even similar to anyone else.
When starting a new habit, it can be helpful to attach it to an existing habit. Do you like to read before bed? Place your Bible on top of your latest fiction work and read a chapter from that first. Play your audio Bible while you are doing your makeup or shaving in the morning. Tape a piece of Scripture you want to memorize on the coffee machine. Listen to your Bible during your commute to or from work.
Do these things until they become a habit for you. If you are motivated by a checked-off to-do list then make Bible reading a part of that list each day, right between “drop off library books” and “change lightbulbs.” Use the reminder options on your phone to set an alarm just for Bible reading at a specific time every day. Having that notification cleared off your phone could be highly motivating for you.
Audio versions and apps.
There are several wonderful ways to interact with the Scripture on your phone, from apps with free reading plans, subscriptions for devotionals and reading plans, to audio playlists and downloads. If you are someone who takes in audio information better than visual this could be the perfect way for you to up your intake of Scripture.
This can be particularly helpful for those parts of the Bible with names that you have no clue how to pronounce. This is also a helpful tool for children who are still learning to read. You can find apps with children’s voices to help them engage with the Scripture as well. There are audio versions that include background music, different versions of Scripture, and different voices. Find one that is pleasant to listen to.Some apps also include brief devotionals, ways to pray, and connections to art and music. They have notifications and reminders which could help you stay on track with different programs.
If you find that you are distracted by other apps on your phone, such as email or social media, consider setting time limits on those apps or removing them from your phone entirely. If your phone is just too distracting, then put it in a different room when you are reading your Bible.
Memory challenges and music.
Perhaps you want a deeper experience in a particular passage. Memorizing Scripture is an excellent way to get there. There are a lot of ways to include memorization in your life. Write out the passage multiple times. Create art for it. Place that art in a visible location, above the kitchen sink while doing dishes or in the bathroom next to the toilet. Find an audio version to play on a loop in the car. Read the passage in different versions.
Music is an excellent way to memorize Scripture. Much of the Bible has been set to different musical styles. From chanted Psalms to folksy ballads to rock and roll rhythms, you can find so many words of Scripture in music. Find artists and albums about parts of Scripture you want to listen to and play it while cleaning the kitchen. Create playlists of music that lifts your mood or suits times of quiet.
If the idea of a reward is helpful consider what you would want as a reward for memorizing a portion of Scripture.
Stay away from the shiny syndrome
Perhaps one of the reasons that you have struggled with forming the habit of reading Scripture is that you are distracted by new things. It would be good for you to pick a plan and stick with that for a set period.
Don’t become distracted by someone else’s reading plan or Bible journal. You are trying to build a habit, and for that to happen you need to set aside grand visions of what you think it should be. A habit of incorporating Scripture into your daily life is beautiful even when it is not Instagrammable.
As with many other habits, having a partner in Scripture reading can be helpful. It could be your spouse, a friend from church, a small group leader. Find someone who will ask you, “So what are you reading in your Bible right now?” Engage in conversation about the things you are reading with other people. The practice of reading Scripture will draw you into the community of Christians, who help you to actively engage with the words you are reading.
You are not an isolated individual attempting to sort out the nuances of God’s word. You are a part of a global and historical community that can give you support and encouragement. Seek out a local church to which you can commit yourself.
When you make a habit of reading the Bible, whatever that looks like, you are listening to the voice of God through His Word. Whatever method you use, regardless of the time of day or the place you sit, take in His love in revealing Himself in the pages of your Bible.
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