I was asked this question recently:
How can I be more disciplined in making time each day to read my bible and have quiet time with God? I know it’s just an excuse to say “I’m busy”, but I really try to get it each day… and life gets in the way. Im really struggling with wanting to do this, but I’m having a hard time doing it. HELP!
First off… WHAT A GREAT QUESTION! I love this question for a couple reasons:
#1 – The desire to spend more time with Jesus represents the longing to strengthen our relationship with God.
If you’re struggling with this desire, the only reason is that you know that you need Jesus! What a great realization to live with! Too many of us live complacent lives that aren’t aware of our desperate need for Jesus!
#2 – This question comes from a sincere place of understanding that we don’t have it all together!
Questions in general come out of an understanding of our own limits. They are, in that way, a very healthy part of our exploration and development. I don’t believe God is afraid of our questions. Just like a good Father, He’s patient and understanding with our questions!
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Let’s start this answer with just a bit of advice on how we read the Scriptures…
When it comes to the Bible: It’s more about what you DO WITH IT than what you know about it.
I realize that this is so counterintuitive to the way “Bible-study” has traditionally been taught. Knowledge isn’t transformational until it’s applied, and that’s the point of studying the Scriptures.
Reading the bible isn’t just a quest for knowledge; it is spending time with Jesus and letting Him shape your life.
Here are three steps to developing a more disciplined devotional life:
#1 – SET A GOAL.
We get goals, because in many ways our lives progress around them.
We also get the natural progression of goals.
So… If you’re new to reading the bible, it’s not wise for most of us to make a goal to read the Bible in 30 days. We might read it through, but we’d probably miss a lot.
Make a goal to read the bible every day. If that doesn’t work, try 5 days a week.
Make a goal to read at least a Chapter a day. Pick a book of the bible and read it through over and over and over again until you become very familiar with it. You’ll know when that’s happened because you’ll start quoting the verses!
If you’ve made more progress, progress the goals: more chapters, more books.
Remember: It’s more about quality than quantity. Don’t get to a place where you’re “I need to speed read these three chapters to keep up with that plan.”
#2 – PICK A TIME.
Everyone has a different rhythm. Some of us do well in the mornings, some at night.
I’d suggest deciding on a rhythm for your life (in general): Learn how much sleep you NEED, decide on a regular, daily rhythm that affords you that amount of sleep, and build your daily routine around that.
For me, I know I need about 7 hours of sleep to be well rested. I try to be in the bed around 10:00pm and asleep around 11:00pm. I then try to be awake at 6am. If I’m awake at 6am I have one hour at least until the kids are awake!
If you can wake up early and be functional, start your day with time with Jesus. Then get busy with your morning routine. Once we get busy, it’s easier to make excuses.
If you end your day with a devotional time, consider letting it be the last thing you do. Let your mind relax into God’s Word as you still yourself for the day.
Whatever it is… pick out a rhythm that works for you and make it routine.
#3 – TRY IT FOR A WHILE.
Don’t commit to a year. Or six months. Try it for a month, and then make adjustments for what you need.
Your devotional life is as much God teaching you about yourself as it is you learning about God. You’ll learn about how disciplined you are: NEWS FLASH… You’re not as disciplined as you want to be or need to be, and this journey an invitation to change that!
If you’re committing to anything, let it be that you’re making the intentional commitment to say, “God, whatever it takes; however it has to happen… I’m doing it.”
When we make our mind to devote ourselves to God like that, well… that’s a profound place to be!
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Do you have any questions? Ask away in the comments and I’ll get around to answering them!