One of the most common struggles in faith is one's personal and daily intake of God's Word.
Now, of course, no one would argue the importance or value of such a rhythm, yet so few actually seem to consistently make this discipline a daily reality. Why is that?
For starters, I think there are a lot of illegitimate excuses being thrown around out there. The worst one is: "I don't have time to read the Bible every day". Let's be honest: we're all busy. We all have a lot going on.
The issue is not a lack of time but a lack of priorities.
We will always make time for what we determine to be the most important things. So, the real question is: why don't you value daily time in God's Word more?
Maybe you don't fully understand what God promises will happen to you when you saturate yourself in Scripture. For starters, Psalm 1 describes the image of a man who meditates day and night on Scripture and he is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, bearing fruit and prosperous in all he does. 2 Timothy 3:16 teaches us that all Scripture is breathed out by God and benefits us in all aspects of our lives (teaching, rebuking, correcting, and directing us in every step). Proverbs 2 is a beautiful exhortation to seek God's wisdom and knowledge and as we do, we will find true life, righteousness, and discernment. All of these passages speak to the timeless truth that our personal intake of Scripture will most certainly change our very lives!
One of my favorite authors and mentors was Dr. Howard Hendricks. He said, in what I believe to be his best work, "Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Studying the Bible", that “the Bible was written not to satisfy your curiosity but to help you conform to Christ’s image. Not to make you a smarter sinner but to make you like the Savior. Not to fill your head with a collection of biblical facts but to transform your life.”
While I believe Dr. Hendricks completely, there are days that the struggle is real! There are days that I miss my time in the Word and there is a noticeable difference in the "tone" of my day. I'm far more inclined to lean on my own wisdom rather than depending on the wisdom of the Father who desires to guide my every step (Proverbs 3:5-7).
One of the hurdles in developing this discipline lies in our inability to put practical methods into our desire to read God's Word daily.
So, here are a few practical methods that I incorporate in my life and have proven helpful in maintaining a healthy rhythm of taking in God's Word daily. It is my hope and my prayer that these practical tips help you and/or inspire you to find methods that work for you in creating a daily time in God's Word. If you have helpful tips, I'd love to hear from you! Contact me and let me know what your "secret" is :)
Here's my advice:
1. Get a Plan!
One of the easiest ways to get into a good rhythm is to have a Bible reading plan. Whether it's chronological, beginning to end, or any combination, there are hundreds out there if you do a simple Google search, but here are three links to a few that I've personally done, enjoyed, and found to be helpful in stretching me along the way.
- Navigators Bible Reading Plans (I loved the 5x5x5 version!)
- The Bible Project (my new favorite for 2017)
- Ligonier Ministries (tons of versions to choose from)
2. Effective Study Methods
Once again, there are multiple ways to study the Bible and dig deeper. I believe every believer is completely capable of gleaning timeless truths from God's Word whether you have a seminary degree or not. The basic method must be to read God's Word, find the timeless principle(s) and then apply it to your daily life. So, whatever your method, make sure there is an appropriate balance of:
- Observation (what do I see? what's going on here?)
- Interpretation (discovering the timeless principle(s))
- Application (how will I apply the timeless principle(s) to my life this week?)
For a free PDF "3 Steps to Study the Bible More Effectively" using this method, click here
Along with a good plan and a solid study method, you'll need a good study Bible.
Personally, I utilize the ESV Study Bible as my "go to" study Bible. I also use the Gospel Transformation ESV Study Bible and the Serendipity Bible during my weekly Bible readings to get various commentary perspecitve on the text and the Serendipity Bible provides historical/background and application questions for every page of the Bible! It's super helpful for personal application of God's Word to my daily life.
Another really helpful tool is The Bible Project (see video below). They make really cool graphic art videos that introduce books of the Bible and show you how each book of the Bible is linked together, telling one magnificent story all about Jesus.
3. Make Time
Now that you've got a good reading plan and you've got a method of digging deeper, all you need now is a routine/rhythm to do it. When will you set aside time each day to read? The best Bible studies are the ones that actually get done. Set a time, put it in your calendar as an appointment and try not to miss your appointment!
4. Saturate Your Life with the Word
In addition to your reading plan, I'd highly encourage you to try and squeeze in as much of the Word daily as you can. Thanks to technology this becomes pretty easy with a little bit of intentionality on our end. Here are a few ways I squeeze more in each week thanks to the Bible on audio (CD's in my car and apps on my phone):
- at the gym during a workout
- in the car during a commute
- on an app on your phone as your go for a walk, do the dishes, or as you're vacuuming (great apps: YouVersion, Read Scripture, He Reads Truth, She Reads Truth)
In addition to this, there are literally thousands of sermon videos and Bible study videos on YouTube these days. Almost all churches record their sermons and have a free podcast you can subscribe to. My advice: find a church and/or pastor you agree with theologically, and begin listening to their sermons when you have spare time. Don't forget though, your personal intake of God's Word is ten times more valuable than listening to a sermon. Why? Because God wants one-on-one time with you!
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Additional Bible Study Resources (all books I've read and been greatly impacted by!)
Living by the Book: The Art & Science of Reading the Bible by Howard Hendricks
How to Read the Bible For All It's Worth by Gordon D. Fee
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy
The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Kostenberger, Kellum, and Quarles