Friday, January 21, 2011

How to Read Your Bible Every Day

This may sound crazy but you can do it if you want to. If you treat it like any other habit, it will become a part of you daily routine. Once reading is a habit switch things up a bit and have fun.

Alright, I know that there are people out there that say they want to read the Bible every day but say they cant. You may also want to pray or meditate. This could even apply to exercise. My strategy that I am going to share is specifically for reading the Bible but if you want to adapt it to something else, please do and comment what you are trying to change, how it works or what some strategies may be. If there is something else that you would like to turn into a habit, more than reading the Bible do that first.

My thinking behind the plan:
I worked at a residential treatment facility and one of the things that we were taught was that “these kids have bad habits.” If an adult changes the location of the garbage can, they will keep throwing things in the wrong spot for some time. If grown adults do that with little things, how many times do you think a 16 year old will make the same mistakes? This lecture typically continues with the statistic that it takes 30 consecutive days to form a habit. (For some people this may be more, for others less.) People will also slip back into old habits. The trick is to not get upset or down about it but just get back to the good habit you want to pursue.

Action Plan:
First you must be determined to do this.

Set a goal. I would suggest starting small and possibly performing challenges or switching things up later on. This may depend on your personality. It will be harder for some and easier for others, but everyone can do it. If I can, you can. I just passed a year and a half (the first 6 months were reading proverbs, but you can and probably should switch before that).

The book of proverbs is 31 chapters long and there are never more than 31 days in a month, so start by reading the chapter that corresponds with the day of the month.

If you miss a day, let it go, but don’t make excuses. Proverbs is wonderful for this because it does not need to be read ever day and you always have something to read.

You don’t need a bookmark, it might make you feel bad if your forgot to read on a given day day.
If you need a rewards system set one up. I tend to mark the books that I have read, just to see what I have or have not read. I tend to re read the same books over and over so it is nice to see when you have read a new book. You could reward yourself a new Bible at some point. I know that ice cream is a good reward for short term things but I wouldn’t suggest it for a long term goal. If your goal is to read every day for a month, then after a month go get a pizza and have friends over for ice cream.  If you want to do it again go for it.

Remember one chapter in Proverbs takes about 3 – 5 minutes to read quickly. You can do this while still in bed, before you go to bed, in the shower, in the bathroom, or on Bible gateway while checking yore email. Any thing that you do every day (another habit, or necessity) will be a good time to plan your reading around. I read before I get out of bed while stretching. My husband reads the Bible three days a week and book for fun the other days after he gets ready. Other times could be while using mouthwash, eating breakfast or taking a bath. You could lock yourself in the bathroom when you get ready and take five extra min while sitting on the edge of the tub.

Once reading becomes a habit, you can change things up. Here are some ideas:

Start reading the Bible from the beginning and going all the way through
Read a random chapter
Read one verse or passage over and over (Lectio Davina)
Pray through scripture
Challenge yourself to read more some days (maybe once a week)
Get a group of friends to read through X in X amount of time (I have a good guide for this)
Read a chapter, copy a vrs down to memorize that day
Make an extra copy for a friend
Do a study of a character
Write in the margins every day
Read the Bible in another language
Complete a topical study
Do what works for you

If you want to start with fun things, I wont stop you but it will take longer to make the act of reading a habit. (Some people may argue that it is better to read because you want to rather than out of habit. I don’t disagree, but if it I a true habit first, it will come.)

If you have any other tips or strategies, especially that vary from mine, please add them.

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