Have you ever noticed that when life gets busy, spiritual disciplines are the first to go? We don’t mean for that to happen, but bills and meetings and car repairs and errands are louder and more persistent than our Bibles—quietly sitting there, waiting to be read.
We mean to get back to it, to pick that discipline back up, but before we know it, it’s been longer than we want to admit, and we’re spiritually dry as a bone.
This is something we don’t like to admit as Christians, but something I think most of us struggle with.
Even as a pastor, it’s easy to only pick up our Bibles to prepare for a sermon, instead of for our own spiritual well being.
So what do we do?
We know how important it is to be in the Word of God, but if we’re honest, we also know how difficult it is to be disciplined in anything, especially something that doesn’t beep, or make a fuss, or involve a team of people counting on us to show up.
I’ve compiled a list of a few simple tricks I think might help us be more consistent in reading our Bible. They’re not large commitments, rather bite-sized ones that will help us move in the right direction.
1. Wake up 15 minutes earlier.
The beauty of the morning is that it’s usually the quietest part of the day. Once everyone is awake, peace is hard to come by. Ideally we’d wake up an hour before everyone else so we could dive into the word in peace. But for now, lets try 15 minutes.
Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier, and try to get in the habit of ignoring that snooze button.
Make some coffee and sit down in the peace of the morning, reading just a few verses at a time. It’s a great way to start your day off right, and a small habit like this is an excellent jumping off point for more time in the Word each morning.
2. Put verses where you can see them.
Write verses on sticky notes and put them in places you’re sure to see them—on your mirror for when you’re getting ready in the morning, above the sink to look at while you’re washing dishes, or on your dashboard to see when you’re in the car. It doesn’t take the place of hours in the Word, but every little bit helps.
3. Download an audio version.
The thought of sitting down to read the Bible feels especially impossible to someone who’s always on the go. A great way to get your time in even when you don’t have the time to sit down to read is to download an audio version.
That way you can soak yourself in the Word of God while you’re cleaning the house, or driving to work, or doing tasks that take time but don’t require a lot of concentration.
4. Keep a small Bible with you.
Spending time in God’s Word doesn’t have to be a production. It doesn’t have to happen in the same place at the same time each day. It doesn’t require lots of supplementary texts or lots of time.
Buy a small Bible and keep it with you (or if you prefer, download a Bible app on your phone). That way, whenever you have down time—between meetings or while waiting for the dentist—you can spend some time reading.
5. Set an alarm and take 5.
The reason many of our other commitments take precedence over our time with God is that they’re more insistent, also—they remind us. We have reminders and calendar notifications for all kinds of things, why not for this?
Choose a time when you’re normally just at your desk each day, and set an alarm for that time. Every day, when the alarm goes off, take five minutes away from whatever you’re doing to read a verse and meditate on it for a moment. You’ll be surprised at how much those five minutes rejuvenate you and fill you back up for whatever you go back to.
Our lives are fuller than ever these days, and it’s tempting to feel overwhelmed and disappointed in yourself for how little time you spend in the Word of God. First of all, give yourself some grace. God already did. Second, try a few of these techniques. You’ll be amazed at how much you’re able to squeeze into your day, and how differently you feel when you’re filling up spiritually throughout the day.
photo: Ryk Neethling, Creative Commons