05 May Get Out of Your Bible Reading Rut
It had dawned on me, a couple of weeks ago while teaching a group of teenage students, that I have already been a believer for half my life. I started to follow Jesus and get serious with God as a 16-year-old senior high school student, and thankfully there has been no turning back.
This means though, that it would only make sense that I would have read my Bible from Genesis to maps about 16 times. I honestly do not know how many times I have finished going through it, however, it is safe to say the number is unfortunately not 16.
I too, have had days when I didn’t feel like reading my Bible. I’ve had days when I didn’t read my Bible. I’ve also had days when I did not want to read my Bible. However, the more I read my Bible daily, the more I am understanding why it is critical for us to fill our hearts and minds with God’s word every day. We are forgetful beings–days, hours, minutes, and even seconds can easily flush out the truth we’ve stored up in our hearts. How many times have we found ourselves doubting God immediately after we’ve left a church service?
This post is for anyone who feels they’re in a bit of a rut when it comes to reading God’s word. I’ve had my share of those, and I suspect I might encounter it for the rest of my life. Here are some of the ways I’ve successfully tried to jumpstart my Bible reading in the past.
- Don’t rely on your emotions. – In other words, just show up. Just do it. I don’t mean go through the motions without trying to be interested or focused on it, but if you wait for yourself to “feel” like reading your Bible, there is a high likelihood you’ll never get around to it. There are many things we used to not feel like doing as children, but as young adults and adults, have come to learn that it is necessary. It must be done, or else greater consequences arise. Take for example, brushing our teeth or taking a bath. We do it because we know we need to. Can we honestly say we need God’s word in our hearts every day? Do we view reading God’s word daily as optional or essential?
- Try a different translation. – I first started reading NIV because it was the version widely used in my church years ago. Then I tried The Message version when it came out, then ESV. I read NASB a few years back and currently I am enjoying NLT. I find myself usually reading a particular translation for a couple of years. I observe that a new translation helps me approach the Bible with fresh perspective.
- Pick up a devotional. – I admit I used to look at devotionals with a tinge of disdain, but something is better than nothing. If it helps us create the daily habit, read it. I hope it helps you get your groove back and create that hunger you once had, or want to have. Eventually, challenge yourself to read chapters of the Bible again along with the devotional you’ve chosen. I think my all-time favorite, hands down, is Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. Concise, jam-packed, and cut to the heart.
- Start another book. – Like Romans, John, or Acts, perhaps. Reading books that spells out my faith for me is always pleasurable to read. After reading the whole book, go back to the one you were originally reading if you can remember.
- Follow a Bible reading plan. – There are so many online that you can find! I’ve shared this with my Victory group in the past. Whether you like to read the whole Bible chronologically (as in, the way it happened), or maybe a different type of book each week (gospels, history, psalms/hymns, prophecies, epistles, etc) or a different order, a mapped out plan might work for you. There are read-the-entire-Bible-in-a-year plans, which is a great pace. You can also download the 21-day challenge by Victory (click the link!), which should help you develop the discipline of reading your Bible daily as studies show it takes 21 days to develop a habit.
Some friends have said listening to the audio Bible has helped them, as well as listening to it while you read it. haven’t tried this, but if you have, what was it like? Did it help you?
I hope that these five ways are of use to you, and I pray that you and I would “find delight in Your commands, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward Your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.” (Psalm 119:47-48)
P.S. It’s interesting how the psalmist consistently describes God’s commands with the phrase “which I love”, in both verses. It feels like the tradition of describing royalty “his/her royal highness” before the monarch’s name, which shows value and great devotion.
“A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”― Charles H. Spurgeon