My Approach to Daily Bible Reading
How should one go about reading through the Bible in a consistent and regular pattern? This a question all Christians should consider, as we desire to be those who are led by God’s Word and fed by it.
The following is my approach. I’m not sure exactly where I learned or heard it, and I imagine other approaches are quite similar. I don’t claim that my approach is best, but just that it works for me—I’ve been using this approach for years.
Here’s my general approach:
Find a consistent time that works. Right now, I try to read the Bible early in the morning when our children are asleep. I find that I have most uninterrupted time early in the morning. I think the key is consistency, finding a time that works everyday.
Read some of the Bible. I have four place-markers in my Bible (one in the OT, one in the NT, one in the Psalms, and one in Proverbs) and everyday I read all four, three of them, two of them, or just one. I don’t have a set schedule of how much I read, just whatever time allows (I try to have at least 30-60 minutes of time for Bible reading). This time will allow for varying amounts of reading. In deciding on how much and what to read, I try to listen to my heart. In some ways, I think listening to our heart in this can be really valuable and life-giving. For instance, on some days I just feel like I need a large chunk of OT narrative, or just a concise paragraph from an epistle, or a few Psalms. Other days I don’t feel any preference. On all days I know that my heart cannot be the sole determining factor, because of indwelling sin which leads me to laziness and apathy. So, it is a combination of listening to my heart, but also seeking to be disciplined even if my heart is cold or uninterested. In using this approach, I generally get through the Bible about every year (with reading some of the Bible twice through).
Prayer and Meditation. Before I read, I pray and ask God to help me understand what I’m reading, to revive my heart, and renew my mind. As I read, I try to pray as often as I can with regard to the truths I’m reading: I may be praising God for who He is; confessing my sin and unbelief; praying that God would reshape how I think in light of the passage; asking God to help me apply and live out the truth of a verse or biblical idea. I think prayer and mediation are key in Bible reading, and the absence of prayer and mediation is while so many believers struggle to “get something” out of their time in the Bible. It is through prayer and mediation on Scripture that I find my heart often moves from unbelief to belief, from coldness to love, from pride to humility.
I try to remind myself the truths of the gospel. God does not save me because of my Bible-reading or love me because of it; He saves me because He is gracious and shows me mercy in spite of my sin. Further, I try to preach to myself this fact: I GET to spend time with God and hear from Him in His Word, rather than I HAVE to do this. I try to confess my grumbling heart when I drift into a complaining attitude.
Use a Journal. I have a journal that I use to write down some of my prayers, passages that have encouraged me, or other thoughts. I find that when I am particularly distracted journaling on a passage really helps me focus.
That is my approach to daily Bible intake. In addition to this, I try to include regular Scripture memorization and study of particular books, and listening to other Bible expositors (my favorite is Dick Lucas). I find these all work together to help me with my Bible Intake.