I know the routine. The desire to read your Bible everyday is there, you set a goal, and then you feel guilty when you don’t follow through.
Many people are in this frustrating loop and become overwhelmed and discouraged. I understand. For years I felt the same way, but with a couple of minor “tweaks” I know that your Bible reading routine can become awesome and fulfilling.
Here are three ideas to help you develop a morning routine of Bible reading that will end up being a joy instead of drudgery.
1. Time out your morning
The main goal is to carve out at least 30 minutes of alone time.
This may be pre-dawn before anyone else wakes up.
This may not happen until your husband and kids leave for work and school.
This may be your drive to work.
Identify this devotional time and then set up a morning schedule around these 30 minutes.
Example: I am a morning person, so pre-dawn is my best 30 minutes. I create my schedule around this time:
5:30 a.m. I get out of bed, make coffee, feed the cat, and greet the morning. (I take a step outdoors except for in the winter.)
5:45 a.m. Depending on which season it is, I sit in my “spot” and read my Bible. (Spring and summer in the porch, fall in my office, winter by the fireplace.)
6:30 a.m. Start my morning routine – getting ready for my day’s schedule.
Example: You have school-age children. Your schedule may look something like this:
7:00 a.m. Get the kids out of bed, fix breakfast, pack lunches
8:15 a.m. Kids are out the door and in the car. After you drop them off at school listen to the audio version (2 times) of the chapter you are reading for the day. Spend the rest of the commute back home thinking, praying, worshiping.
9:00 a.m. Before you start your day’s schedule, take a few minutes to journal.
What does your morning schedule look like? Begin designing it around those 30 minutes of Bible reading.
Let me back up for a moment to the night before. When do you normally head to bed? Every day is better after a good night’s sleep. Ask yourself – how many hours of sleep do I need to feel my best? Now look at the morning schedule you just created and set a bedtime for the night before.
2. Create a motivating environment
What motivates you to read your Bible?
Ask yourself these questions:
What kind of a learner am I?
Am I stimulated by ambiance?
Do I do my best thinking when action is involved?
Here are some ideas for different learning styles:
- Use a journal Bible. The margins are wide with room to doodle, draw, and take notes.
- Listen to an audible version of the Bible (www.biblegateway.com)
- Create a space in your house that is just yours. All you need is a corner, a comfortable chair, a candle, and low lighting.
- Take a verse into your workout. Repeat it, begin to memorize it, meditate on, and give some listening time to the Holy Spirit.
- Buy a new translation. My new favorite is the Passion Translation by Dr. Brian Simmons.
3. Increase your capacity
Increasing your capacity is not about reading MORE but reading DEEPER.
Think about breathing. In my Pilates-SMR class, my instructor continues to remind me that I can breathe deeper than I am currently doing. It’s easy to breathe shallow but also lazy. Learn to fill your lungs so you can feel it expand down your rib cage and up to your clavicles.
“In healthy people without chronic lung disease, even at maximum exercise intensity, we only use 70 percent of the possible lung capacity. Lung capacity predicts health and longevity. Our lung capacity naturally declines with age, starting at age 30. By the age of 50, our lung capacity may be reduced by as much as 50 percent. This means that the older you get, the harder it is for your lungs to breathe in and hold air. When we breathe in less oxygen, our body and cells also receive less oxygen, forcing our heart to work harder to pump oxygen throughout the body. The heart working overtime long-term can lead to heart failure. Earlier symptoms of reduced lung capacity include shortness of breath, decreased stamina and reduced endurance, and frequent respiratory infections. The good news is that lung capacity may be improved with physical exercise and by practicing breathing exercises,” Jonathan P. Parsons, M.D., professor of internal medicine, Ohio State University Asthma Center.
I believe to live a healthy, flourishing life we need to prioritize these three things:
- The daily inhale of God’s Word and Presence. Expand your capacity!
- The exhale of a transformed life. The Word is alive and works in you. (Hebrews 4:12)
- The repeated discipline of a submitted heart to God. Enjoy God’s Word daily.
Reading MORE can be overwhelming and discouraging. It is a great goal to read through the Bible in a year, but that takes a lot discipline. If your season of life fits that reading schedule – go for it. Otherwise take the pressure off yourself and just think DEEPER.
That could be one verse a day, or one chapter a week. I heard a pastor tell his congregation that he stayed in one book of the Bible for an entire year. I can picture the words, thoughts, and insights from that book expanding to deeper areas of his life, like air filling unoccupied lung space with a full, expanding inhale.
Implement these 3 changes into your morning routine today. I am confident these 30 minutes will be the highlight of your morning.