Turning your Bible reading from an “every now and then” activity into a daily practice doesn’t usually happen overnight.
Research illustrates that about 40 percent of our behavior is driven by habit, and it can take upwards of two months to form a lasting habit. With this long time to push through, it’s easy to continue making excuses, instead of diving in and getting the work done.
Bible reading can seem boring and as though it’s too hefty a habit to get it to stick. Thankfully, with a more strategic approach, you can break it down into bite-sized pieces and personalize your experience. Here are four steps for turning Bible reading into a habit.
Use a format familiar to you
A persistent myth about Bible reading is that you must be seated with a printed Bible to be involved in God’s Word. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth! Thanks to today’s technology, you can listen, scroll, and tap your way through the Bible – fully expecting to experience His guidance everywhere your busy life takes you.
Try out an audio Bible app such as YouVersion or Daily Audio Bible. You can select a translation that speaks most to you and then listen for 15-20 minutes per day. If you’re a train commuter or otherwise have the chance to journal, this adds depth to your quiet time. You can look back later and reflect on what God was saying to you at that time. Plus, who knows – the audio Bible may get you so hooked that you prefer it over a printed one.
Start small, and grow from there
Perhaps the most common misunderstanding about reading the Bible is feeling like you need to read at least 30-60 minutes per day, or more. This is likely influenced by the seeming omnipresence of lengthy sermons, church services, and prayers, implying that if we spend only a little time with God, He must not approve of us.
If you’ve been troubled by this before, you can rest assured it’s a misguided impression. God cares about us spending meaningful time with Him; not hours of time that may or may not be fully focused. This is not to say that longer prayer sessions or an entire weekend devoted to God is not welcomed by His Spirit. However, we know from Scripture that God cares much more about the intent of our hearts than the style through which we seek Him.
1 Chronicles 28:9 tells us: “. . . know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.” You don’t need to sacrifice hours of your day to ingrain a Bible reading habit. Instead, try it for 15 minutes per day and focus on being present during that time.
Try out a devotional or chronological Bible
Sometimes, jumping right into the Bible without a structure can be overwhelming or even confusing. The Bible is a complex document, and picking it up after a long time (or starting anew) can feel like studying a language that’s completely foreign.
Fortunately, there are many Bibles with devotional and chronological formats suited for specific types of readers. If you’re the type to embrace challenges, a full one-year plan may be excellent for you. If you prefer a slower pace with a different structure, a title like The Message 100 may be a better fit. Search for one that helps you engage with God’s Word and try it out!
Commit to a time block that works for you
It’s common to be extremely busy these days, and it’s understandable why. Work, school, family life, relationships, and more all contribute to a full schedule, but it’s easy to leave God out of the picture if you aren’t mindful of Him.
Since everyone’s schedule is different, it’s worth mapping out all the recurring pieces of your week, to identify when you can be most focused. If you’re a morning person, look for 15 minutes per day that you can schedule with God to be in His Word. If you’re an evening person, find 15 minutes after the hustle and bustle of the day to dive into the Bible.
While these four steps aren’t a surefire road to success, they can drastically cut down on the amount of time you spend frustrated or apathetic towards an activity that can yield measurable results. If all four seem overwhelming at first, try one, and practice it for at least two months. Soon, you’ll be well on your way to habit-forming Bible reading.