“How to Start a Bible Reading Habit”

Categories: Bible, study

Someone asked me recently, “How many people at your church do you think read their Bibles every day?” I don’t know the answer to that. I hope it’s a pretty high number, but I know it’s not everyone. I also wonder how many of our church family have read the entire Bible all the way through at least once.

One of the best habits I have ever created in my life has been a time of daily Bible reading. I started this habit quite a few years ago using a free iPhone app called YouVersion. The app includes hundreds of guided and tracked Bible reading schedules. The tracking feature helped me lock in my new habit because it knew if I ever skipped a day of reading. As I saw the number of uninterrupted reading days constantly increase, it made me not want to start over. It’s kind of like the “You have been THIS many days without a security failure” sign. You have been THIS many days without missing your daily reading. Once I got up to over 800 days of reading. Pat myself on the back.

One of the keys to starting a new habit is to make it as easy on yourself as possible. If you read from your Bible every day, make sure you always know where it is. That may sound strange, but if it takes you five minutes to locate your Bible, you can start to feel defeated before you even start reading. Set it on your reading table or on its reserved spot on the shelf so you don’t have to think about it when it’s time to read.

Another key to starting a new habit is to anchor that habit to an existing part of your daily schedule. Do you want to read first thing after you get out of bed, after breakfast, at lunchtime, during your first 15-minute break at work, after you get home in the evening, just before bedtime? Pick something  you always do, and plan to read your Bible immediately before, during, or after that event. For instance, I always start my day out with one cup of water and then a cup of coffee. I read my Bible with my cup of coffee. That has become my morning ritual. You may want to read right after you brush your teeth or right after you eat lunch. Make sure you pick something you do every day because if you anchor your Bible reading to an event that you skip now and then, you’ll end up skipping your Bible reading, too.

A third key to starting a new habit is to construct a concrete plan. If you think, “I want to exercise more, and I’ll do it right after my morning coffee” but you don’t clearly plan how you will exercise, you’ll bumble around and waste time. Likewise, without a set Bible reading schedule, you’ll flip around in your Bible, aimless and adrift. You’ll wonder if you’re going about it the best way, which will produce doubt and discouragement. So make a plan. If you choose not to use a digital guide, such as the YouVersion app mentioned above, you should print yourself a daily checklist. For instance, Crossway has a blog post which links to a number of printable plans you can download for free.

I encourage you to start a daily habit of reading holy Scripture. God wants you to hide His word in your heart that it would guide you all the days of your life. The word should be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. What good is a lamp left on a shelf in your attic? The tool must be used and used often. Paul called the word the sword of the Spirit, and you should never use a weapon you haven’t trained. So train with it! Let me know if I can help you find a plan which would be suitable for you—I’d love to help!

Psalm 119.9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
    all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
    as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word.