We’ve all been there, victim to that crushing feeling of guilt. “I really should be reading my Bible more.” So, we commit to reading a chapter a day. Whew! Check it off the list, and move on! But what if our time in God’s Word was more than a checklist item? I want to help you learn, not only how to read your Bible more, but also how to make the most out of your daily time with the Lord.
Let me start by saying this: drop the guilt. Bible study is not a competition, and it’s not a race. It’s a daily decision to commit to knowing God better. I’m a recovering perfectionist, and this is something I struggle with. But I’m slowly learning that God doesn’t want me to read His Word just for the sake of saying I did so; He wants me to know Him personally, just as He already knows me completely. My desire is to give you a few tools to help you get to know God better through your daily time in His Word.
LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
I love reading my Bible in peace and quiet with a warm drink in my hand. I mean, did you see the picture at the top of this post?? I like for my time with God to feel special! And it always is. But that has little to do with whether or not I’m sipping a latte or holding a sleeping baby who doesn’t want to be put down. Sometimes when I’m reading it’s not exactly quiet. Although the latte sipping scenario is nice, that’s not what makes time with God special. Time spent with Him is precious, regardless of the setting.
If I always expect a picturesque quiet time, I will usually be disappointed. In that sense, I’ve had to lower my expectations. However, I can always expect to come away from my quiet time (or not-so-quiet time) knowing God better. In that regard, I’ve never been disappointed.
PLAN A SPECIFIC TIME
It is important that you have a specific time of day set aside for your time with the Lord, otherwise it’s likely that it won’t happen. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you’re choosing this time.
YOUR BEST TIME OF DAY
A lot of emphasis is placed on spending time with the Lord in the morning, and this can be a great thing. But it can also be a not so great thing if it’s not realistic for you to have quality time in the morning. Maybe you’re not a morning person. Maybe you’re like my husband and you have to get up at 3:30 a.m. just to make it to work on time. Maybe you’re like me and you’re up every two hours with a child at night and the thought of trying to somehow get up before said child so that you can read your Bible makes you feel a little sick.
Rather than giving the Lord the first part of your day, I would challenge you to give Him the best part of your day. For me, that means I give God time during the first part of my toddler’s nap. I’m feeling the most awake I’m going to feel, and that’s when I’m going to have my best shot at a little bit of uninterrupted time. Maybe for you it’s at night after everyone else is asleep. Whatever the best part of your day is, dedicate it to the Lord.
YOUR BEST TIME MAY CHANGE
It would be foolish of me to think that 1:30 p.m. will be my best time of day every day for the rest of my life. That’s why it’s important for me to frequently reevaluate what my best time of day is. Just a month ago, my toddler went from taking two naps to taking one nap. So, my time with the Lord changed from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There have been times in my life when I read the Bible first thing in the morning, and there have been times when I read the Bible right before going to bed at night. Be aware of life changes, and adjust accordingly.
PLAN WHAT TO READ
Even if you plan a specific time, you won’t follow through if you don’t have a plan for what you’re going to read.
Do you want to read the Bible straight through to get a picture of the overarching story? Do you want to read chronologically? Is there a specific book you want to spend some extra time in digging deeper?
It doesn’t matter what you choose to do; just know what you’re going to do ahead of time so that when your planned time comes you can get started immediately.
My goal this year is to read the Bible through three times. That probably seems ridiculous and insurmountable to most of my readers. I’m not here to tell you how to read your Bible through three times; I’m here to help you read your Bible more than you do now. After all, the best way to get to know God is through spending more time with Him.
I started reading my Bible pretty consistently when I was about thirteen years old. I missed some days here and there, but for the most part, I was committed to reading daily. That usually just meant a minute or two each day. But it was more than the zero minutes I had been reading.
If you’re just starting out, start small. It will be a huge step in the right direction towards knowing God better. Gradually, you will want to spend more time, and your mind will be strengthened so that you are able to spend more time.
SET A TIMER
This one may not seem very spiritual, but it serves a couple of important purposes.
Life is full of distractions. When I set a timer for my Bible study time, it’s my commitment to putting aside those distractions for a set amount of time and focusing on God’s Word. That doesn’t mean I have to stop when the timer goes off; it’s just a tool to improve focus and quality of time.
TIME SPENT OVER CHAPTERS READ
One mistake I believe that I have made in my Bible study over the years is putting too much emphasis on the number of chapters I read each day. This can be a problem because some chapters are longer than others, and some chapters may need to be read more slowly than others for comprehension. I’ve found that having a goal for the amount of time I spend rather than the number of chapters I read helps me to be able to read at my own pace and actually comprehend what I’m reading.
You can set that timer all you want, but sometimes life just happens. The baby wakes up. The phone rings. Someone comes home early. It’s hard not to be frustrated when your good intentions go awry.
Pause and decide if the interruption warrants a break from your Bible study time (or the need to stop altogether).
A ringing phone can likely be ignored.
An unexpected arrival can perhaps be greeted, and then return to your Bible study.
A waking baby (which is my most common interruption) may mean that your time for the day is cut short. That’s okay! Remember, it’s not about perfection. It’s about pursuing a relationship with God as consistently as possible.
There are countless ways your time can be interrupted. Each situation will need to be addressed individually, but God will give you discernment.
READ AT YOUR OWN PACE
In theory, it takes the average reader 70 hours to read the Bible through. If I read the Bible at this pace, I would probably read it through five times this year rather than the three times I mentioned as my goal. But my goal isn’t to read the Bible through as many times as possible; my goal is to spend the most amount of time possible getting to know God better, reading at a pace at which I’m able to comprehend what I’m reading. Remember, it’s not a race. Your pace may be faster or slower than mine. Don’t get in a rush; just take your time savoring God’s Word.
PRAY AS YOU READ
It’s common to pray before we read the Bible, or even after we read. But I’ve found it incredibly valuable to pray as I read. When we read God’s Word, He is speaking to us; it seems only right that we would talk back. Otherwise, it can become a one-sided conversation.
PRAY IN RESPONSE TO WHAT GOD IS TEACHING YOU
When God gives you an insight into the text you are reading, pray in response to that insight. Ask God your questions, thank Him for who He is, or request help in your desire to become more like Him.
PRAY IN THE WAY THAT YOU COMMUNICATE BEST
For a long time, I struggled to stay focused in my prayers. Most of us pray silently in our minds during our time with the Lord, and there’s nothing wrong with this if it’s effective for you! But my mind has a tendency to wander. If you find your mind wandering while praying silently, try praying in one of these two ways:
WRITE IT DOWN
This is what I have personally been doing since last summer. Writing is the way in which I communicate best, so that’s how I talk to God during my set aside time with Him. If you process through writing, get a journal and try writing your prayers out. The main purpose of this is to keep your mind from wandering.
PRAY OUT LOUD
Many people are verbal processors, and if you fall into this category, you might find it helpful to pray out loud. Even if it’s just a whisper, this can help safeguard your time talking to God from distractions.
If you use these eight tools in your daily Bible study, you will slowly find that you are able to read more. You will also grow to have a better understanding of God, and a closer relationship with Him. And the closer we get to God, the more we become like Him. His desire is to completely transform our lives.
If you found this helpful, please share it with your friends!
Do you have any additional tips that help you study your Bible? Tell me in the comments!