It’s not even 30 days since the beginning of the new year and already you’ve been getting behind on your daily reading of the Bible. Welcome to the real world boet or boet-ess. is that even a word? Doesn’t matter, you get my drift.
If you are like many other believers, you made a commitment this year to read through your Bible or read two or three chapters a day. Well done. That commitment is worth celebrating! Wanting to do a good thing is a good thing! But wanting to do it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. Even though your decision was not rash or foolish, you may still be finding it difficult to follow through. Speak to anyone and they’ll have the same challenges.
Here are some thoughts that might… no, I think will… help you.
1. Modify your routine
We all have 24 hours in the day and the way most of us mortals live, is by creating habits and patterns that more or less fill the 24 hour day, less sleep time, leisure time, FaceBook time, WhatsApp groups we don’t really need to be on time and wasted time neh! That’s why it is so hard to add something like reading the Bible into an existing life schedule.
If you are like me, we don’t sit around with 20-30 minute gaps in our daily routine just waiting for something to fill it. Therefore, if you try and shove a new habit into an already full life, you will often be disappointed with the outcome.
Something has to give, and it will almost always be the last thing added to your list of priorities. What you should probably do is rearrange your entire schedule, and, as Stephen Covey said famously, you will need to put the Big Rocks in first. Or put another way, as Eskom said, we will need to go to Stage 6 load shedding to fix the conveyor belt.
This is why I prefer to do my Bible readings in the morning. No, not so that I can read my BIble by natural light because we might experience surprise load shedding in the evening. I try to put my time with God in first so that if I run short on time later in the day, it will be something less important that gets left behind.
Try that. Try reading your Bible first. Try carving out a priority appointment for reading the Bible and build lesser commitments and activities around that.
2. Identify distractions
If you are having difficulty finding the 20 or 30 minutes per day for readIngrid the Bible, you may simply need to identify and reduce some common distractions that most of us face. For example, the average working South African spends 40-80 minutes a day using Facebook and replying to WhatsApp groups. If you and I put some limits on our social media usage, I think finding those 20 minutes to do some Bible reading would be a breeze.
Here’s a thought to us social media addicts, maybe decide in advance when you’ll check in on your social media and for how long. Set an alarm on your phone if you have to. Maybe even delete the apps on your phone, breathe, deep breath, do you need CPR… it will be okay. Instead use your laptop or computer to check in to all your feeds. It’s better than scrolling mindlessly through an app on your phone whilst on your couch, in the parking lot waiting to pick up your child from school or while waiting for the robot to change to green… no, don’t give me that face… you’ve done that before.
Having a phone next to you whilst reading your Bible is like the Gupta’s having to sit in a room without touching a pile of tender documents on a table next to them. It’s just too tempting to not have a peak every now and again. Leave your phone in another room and you will likely discover that it takes half the time you think it does to read your Bible.
3. Experiment with different tools
Seriously, we have never had so many Bible reading tools at our disposal, and yet we still struggle to give more time to reading the Bible than sending cat videos to our friends on WhatsApp or posting selfies with food on Instagram. Why not try some of these Bible reading tools before throwing in the towel. Maybe read one chapter of your Bible at home in the morning and listen to an additional chapter in your car on the way to work. The YouVersion Bible has this facility whereby you can listen to the Bible.
If you want to get a little bit of Bible commentary and listen to the Bible being read, a pastor named Paul Carter hosts a podcast called “Into The Word” in which he reads and explains whole books of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. He created this podcast specifically to help commuters. If you want to check it out you can visit the homepage here (www.intotheword.ca) or find it for free on iTunes.
Although it is still hard – it has never been easier to begin and maintain a Bible reading habit – in the words of a famous sports brand with a swish logo… just do it.
4. Remember the primary objective
The point of reading the Bible every day is not to check off 365 tiny tick boxes. The point is to know and love the Lord.
So even if you miss a day — even if you miss two days — don’t give up. You might not get all your boxes ticked, but if you stick with it, you can still grow in your knowledge and love of God. Many people quit because they see Bible reading as a project. Rather, reading the Bible is about relationship – getting to know God. So what if you fall a few days behind? Keep on reading!
5. Ask for help
Most of us know that reading the Bible is a means of grace. It is something that God uses to bless and shape us. But we forget that regular people need grace to access the means of grace. We see that in the prayers of David. He called out to the Lord and said:
“Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wondrous things from your instruction.” (Psalm 119:18 CSB)
“Keep me from the way of deceit and graciously give me your instruction.” (Psalm 119:29)
“Turn my eyes from looking at what is worthless; give me life in your ways.” (Psalms 119:37 CSB)
If you feel like you are stuck, pray those prayers – each and every one of them – before you even think about giving up on your daily Bible reading. Ask God to open your eyes, edit your priorities, shrink your obsessions, redirect your interests, deepen your attention, broaden your understanding and increase your will and desire to read his Word so as to do it.