God’s word feeds and fuels us. Jesus says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). As diet is critical for a healthy body, spiritual health is impossible without the nutrition of God’s Word. A regular diet of the Bible builds strength, keeping the muscles of faith from atrophy.
Getting God’s word into us plants the peace of Christ in our hearts (Col 3:14-16), keeps us from sin (Ps 119:9-11), trains us for godliness (2 Tim 3:15-17), puts a weapon in our hands against temptation (Eph 6:10-20), and deepens our communion with God (2 Cor 4:1-6). But the impact of God’s Word is not just personal, Luke describes the success of missions as the word of the Lord prevailing (Acts 19:20). The Holy Spirit, by the word of God, does the work of God.
The goal of Bible reading is to know God, but sometimes I need more specific goals to get me off YouTube and into my Bible. Wanting to get in shape does not get me to work out. Trying to hit a golf ball a few yards further does. Using more specific truths as Bible reading goals (knowing God by resting in his peace) keeps me disciplined in Bible reading.
Every Christian knows the importance of God’s word and struggles to read their Bible consistently. Since God works by his word, Satan wants nothing more than for you to choose to do something else. Let me offer a few suggestions to help make progress in reading the Bible more consistently.
Keep the long view in mind.
Drinking your weekly supply of water on Monday leaves you bloated and without water the rest of the week. God’s word is a fountain of soul-refreshing water to drink from each day. There is no life-hack to speed up the process. It is okay to take small sips rather than trying to squeeze out every drop in fifteen minutes.
How would five years of consistent Bible reading will affect your faith? Rather than pinning everything on the next five days, I encourage you to take the long view. Build a habit of daily going to the well to grab a drink. Slowing down and enjoying spending time with God does good in the long run.
Engage alongside others.
Weekly worship services and small group Bible studies are like protein shakes, helping maximize a word workout. Let’s do some math. An average sermon is 30-40 minutes long. The average time that goes into preparing a sermon is between 10-15 hours. In 35 minutes on a Sunday morning, you get the value of 10-15 hours of studying God’s word. I failed math in high school so that I won’t crunch the numbers for a small group. The point is this: we learn a lot when we listen well. This corporate time in God’s word helps our private devotions flourish.
Do something different.
Personal trainers advise mixing up exercise routines to get the best results. A slight change helps get us out of a spiritual rut.
There are lots of ways to do this. If you focus mainly on the New Testament, then spend some time in the Old Testament. If you read the narratives more, then spend some time in Paul’s letters or vice versa. Read longer or shorter sections, take notes, put the pen away for a week, sit in a different chair, listen to an audio Bible, and probably many more.
I have a yearly goal to read through the whole Bible. I’ve used the same reading plan for a few years but felt that I needed a change this year, so I’m using a different translation. It’s not a revolutionary change, but it brought freshness to reading the Bible, which helped me.
Get a Bible overview.
It is not impossible, but it would take a long time to read the Bible enough to have a good picture of the entire story. That is why I love Bible overviews. In 200 pages, we get a lifetime’s worth of mapping Biblical terrain handed to us. They help us see how Leviticus or Revelation, for example, fit into the bigger picture. I recently re-read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I enjoyed the book more the second time through because I could recognize and appreciate things, I missed the first time. Knowing the shape of the entire story illuminated each section. Knowing the shape of the Bible’s story lights up all its parts.
Try having at least one resource like this. My favorites are God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts, Gospel, and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy, and What is Biblical Theology by James Hamilton.
Ecclesiastes 12:12 says, “of making many books there is no end.” We could say that about Bible reading tips. My goal is not to be exhaustive but to motivate and encourage us to get into God’s word. Getting into His Word consistently gets His Word into us, and as the Word dwells in us, the Spirit forms us into Christ-like maturity (Col 3:14-17). That is what God is doing in you when you pick up and read your Bible this week.