I’ve been in conversation recently with a number of people who struggle with reading their Bibles or having daily devotionals/quiet times with God. I can certainly relate as it is something I struggled with for many years myself and on Sunday I shared with my small group that even though I don’t struggle with doing the actual devotions anymore because it’s become an ingrained habit, I still struggle at times to really apply what I am reading to my own life. Basically I’m saying there is a difference between READING the Bible and really meditating on it and marinating on it. I do the first quite well, the second is where I need improvement. If you are struggling with taking that extra time to reflect or if you don’t even know where to begin, here are a few quick ideas that I hope will help:
* Find a Bible that you like. I know this sounds cheesy, but I really think it’s important to find a version that you like. When I was a kid, I struggled with reading the Bible because I was trying to understand the King James. Now that I’m older, I love reading the Message and will reference it with the NIV, ESV, or NASB when I need to do more in-depth study on a passage.
* Find a place that you like. It doesn’t have to be special, but minimize as many distractions as possible. Although I read The Message from my phone, I do realize it’s a great distraction. It’s probably better to silence your phone and read an actual Bible so that you don’t venture onto Facebook or Instagram. Also, if you have young children, find a time when your house is relatively quiet. Other favourite places may include coffee shops or parks.
* Start with a small book. I’m an Old Testament scholar, but I will admit that the New Testament is far easier to read. If you haven’t read the Bible pick a small book like Mark or one of the Epistles. This will give you a sense of accomplishment because you’re far more likely to finish it in a week than if you tried Leviticus or 1 Chronicles (trust me, I’m reading the latter right now!)
* Be consistent. Growing up a lot of people tried to convince me that reading the Bible first thing in the morning is what Jesus would have wanted. That’s dumb. If you’re not a morning person, don’t read it in the morning, you won’t get anything from it. Consequently, don’t read it right before bed or you may find yourself the next morning with your head slumped over it.
* Don’t beat yourself up if you missed a day. Don’t try to read 10 chapters on a Saturday evening to make up for not reading all week. Be gracious with yourself. It’s not about legalism, but the Spirit behind the Law.
* Find an accountability partner. This works wonders. When I first tried to get back into reading the Bible (after years of having an inconsistent devotional life) I asked one of my friends if I could write to her weekly with a report. At first this was a necessary step and there were several weeks when I was tempted to skip, but because I didn’t want to disappoint her I went ahead. Now I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t need someone looking over my shoulder, but I still find it helpful to have people to discuss what I am learning with.
* Lastly, I realize that God gave me the incredible privilege of actually attending a Bible College. I know not many people have this opportunity, and therefore it might make certain passages confusing. What I would recommend is having some good study tools to use (many of which are online). I frequently will reference my Koine Greek or Hebrew Bible, but I also use commentaries, and study guides when needed. Don’t be ashamed if something makes absolutely no sense to you. Ask a pastor or strong Christian friend if they may have some resources they could lend to you or tell you about!
If you’d like to read more, check out this blog for some more hints and ideas: https://debdebbarak.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/i-cant-do-it-on-why-losing-weight-and-bible-reading-are-two-of-the-hardest-activities-in-life/