For those of you joining in on the New in 90 reading challenge, I look forward to reading the scripture together with you! Here are a few tips to set yourself up for success on reading the bible consistently over the next 90 days. These are little adjustments that I have made over the years that have really helped me:
Tip #1: Have a Plan. Whether you start January 1 or some other point in the year, knowing where to read and what to read helps you to focus and get into a place where you can really understand the scriptures. A reading plan that takes you through books of the bible can be especially helpful. There are several great reading plans that are out there and so even if you don’t commit to the New in 90 reading plan, find one and commit to reading through it. That way whe you sit down, you will have a direction.
Tip #2: Have a Set time. I tell my kids all the time, “What get’s scheduled, get’s done.” I know that if I just intend to throw the football or give driving lessons that those opportunities have a danger of being missed or forgotten if I’m not supper intentional. So I put those things on my schedule so that I can commit to doing them. Bible reading is no different.
When it comes to reading the scriptures think of a time when you will be available and ready to focus. For me I’m wired to be wide awake and contemplative at night after I’ve put the kids to bed and so most of my good bible study is done in the evenings. You might be a morning person and 5am might fit just right. If you are new to having a consistent bible reading time, the time of day isn’t as important as being consistent and able to focus. (In college I consistently made A’s in my 10am and later classes and consistently made B’s in my 8am classes… There is so much hype about reading your bible 1st thing, which is great if you are a morning person, but personally I’d rather give the scripture my best attention. I trust the Holy Spirit can still move you in the morning from what you’ve read the night before…Often I’ll study and read at night and then read again the next morning.)
Tip #3: Set out phyisical reminders to read your bible. When I started drinking coffee at home in the mornings I would set everything out the night before so when I woke up all I had to do was push a button. (Now we have a coffee maker with a clock and timer). Setting up or setting out the coffee the night before was a way of setting myself up for a good cup of coffee in the morning. It’s not different when it comes to reading our bibles. Setting your bible out and open to the next reading passage is a great reminder to read your bible. Even if you are reading the pasages on your phone, a physical reminder can help jump start the activity of looking up the passage and starting to read. (I really encourage you to read and interact with a physical copy of the bible because you will have less opportunities to be distracted. Plus I like to underline, highlight, circle words and write comments as I read).
Tip # 4: Read at Least Ten Verses. On days that you are feeling demotivated, reading a few chapters of scripture can seem like a lot and you might be tempted to skip all together. A little trick I learned a while back is to just start reading something. Often if I will start the reading process thinking I’m just in it for a few verses (so I can check off that I tried), but more often than not I’ll finish reading all the way through the scheduled reading. Reading a few verses is way better than not reading anything. Being somewhat consistent in reading the scripture is way better than being completely inconsistent.
Tip #5: Write it down. Interact with what you are reading in the scripture. I like to keep a notebook (laptop) handy to write about my thoughts and reactions to different passages. Because we are reading a few chapters a day, I like to pick one or two things that really jumped out and think about how those things apply to my life. I’ll often ask and answer the five questions I’ve listed in this previous blog post.
Tip #6 Read with a group (accountability). It helps to be reading the same passage as others. I’m always amazed at how we can read the same passage and different individuals pick up on different neuances of the text. I’m also greatly encouraged as I hear of how others apply the same scripture to their lives. The Bible is a book for the community. It wasn’t really intended to only be read in isolation. It was intended to be read out loud to the church. Reading and growing with others fits more with the design of the scriptures than reading it alone with my coffee (as much as I might really enjoy that… I’m an introvert). As we read together through the New in 90 day challenge, feel free to share in the comments what struck you from the daily reading (even if it’s something I didn’t comment on).
Consistently reading the scriptures is one of the best things you can do to grow in your understanding of the Lord. Sometimes we are tempted to think that we can slack one day and make up for it the next, but the kind of strategy that vasiclates between energy and dread (depending on how we feel each day) will never ultimately lead us to a place of contentment. Just like sporatically eating healthy foods and exercising whenever the fancy strikes us won’t lead us to physically fit lifestyle. Consitency really is the key. I pray that 2021 finds you consistently reading the scripture and growing in your understanding and relationship with the Lord.