What is your greatest struggle in your walk with the Lord?
Maybe it is doubt, fear, commitment, prayer, or reading and understanding the Bible. We all experience these at some point, but recently I took a poll of our Instagram followers and the staff at The Daily Grace Co.® and asked this same question.
There was a variation of answers, but the overwhelming struggle mentioned was consistency. Christians often struggle with consistency in their Bible reading, prayer, and attending church or Bible study—our spiritual disciplines. And in our quick-fix instant-gratification world, we want a five-step process to solve the problem and move on in victory. But nothing worthwhile was ever solved overnight, and the New Testament gives us a clear picture of our faith representing a marathon and not a sprint.
So if there is no quick fix to make us more consistent, how can we become steadfast in our spiritual disciplines?
The greatest example we have is Jesus. Jesus displayed perfect consistency in His relationship with the Father. During His earthly ministry, Jesus experienced the same interruptions, difficulties, busyness, and demands on His time that we do today. But throughout the gospels, we read about times when He slipped away in the early dawn to spend time with the Father. We read about His time in the synagogues reading the Scriptures. And we study the passages where He spent time among His disciples teaching them about the kingdom of heaven. Jesus knew the Scriptures. Jesus prayed. And Jesus was surrounded by a community that desired to grow in their knowledge of the Lord. His life was devoted to a consistent relationship with God.
When it comes to consistency, we can be our own worst enemy.
When we fail to complete the plan we created for ourselves or the study we began, we are tempted to just quit altogether. And when we strive to do it on our own we fail many times over. But when we turn to the Lord for help, He gives us the victory. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:57–58, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Because we have victory in Christ, we can be steadfast, we can excel, and we know that our labor is not in vain. We joyfully labor in consistency in order to know our Savior more. And we carve out time to be in the Word and to pray because our hearts crave the presence of our Creator.
Believers can be consistent in spiritual disciplines because we serve a steadfast God. As His image bearers and those indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are capable of faithfulness as we serve and follow Him. And while there might not be a five-step process for consistency, there are practical steps we can take to become more consistent in our Bible reading, prayer, and time with other believers. And at times, we have to stop and take a hard look at what barriers might be preventing us from consistency. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully, it will help as you discern why consistency may be lacking in your life and provide some ways to spark consistency this year. May we consistently cling to Jesus, who is faithful yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)!
Practical Steps for Consistency in Bible Study
- Start small - Do not fall into the trap of adding too many studies, reading plans, journals, or Bible study groups to your schedule. Choose one study, one reading plan, or one group to attend in order to practice consistency. As you grow in consistency then add in other plans or resources as time permits.
- Find an accountability partner - Seek accountability to help you remain consistent. Ask a friend to join you for a study or join a Bible study group at your church. Studying Scripture and praying with other believers is a beautiful way to grow in gospel-centered community and help you stay on track in your spiritual disciplines.
- Use a plan - Reading plans are a great way to encourage consistency. They break down Bible readings into daily sections that can typically be done in twenty to thirty minutes. This enables you to plan your time in the Word each day and grow in faithfulness and consistency.
- Modify - Similar to starting small, modifying your plan in a busy or difficult season can help you remain consistent instead of giving up altogether. If a reading plan, Bible study, and prayer journaling take up too much time in a particular season, modify what you are doing by choosing one option to remain consistent. Then as you have more time, add these other opportunities back in. In busy seasons, post Scripture cards around your home or listen to an audio Bible on your daily commute. Look for creative ways to remain consistent and spend time with the Lord.
- Show yourself grace - We all have those days where Bible reading just does not happen for many reasons. On these days, do not beat yourself up, show yourself grace, and commit to starting fresh the next day. God will meet you there and welcome you with open arms.
- Make it fun - Find a place in your home that brings you joy as you study the Bible and pray. Utilize fun tools like pens, journals, and stickers to help you engage in your study. Spending time with the Lord is not meant to be a boring or menial task. It is a gift to sit in the presence of our Savior and enjoy our time with Him.
- Take a hard look at your schedule - Do you spend more time on your phone than you do with Jesus? Has work taken over every aspect of your life? If you struggle to find time to read the Bible or pray, take a week and journal how much time you spend doing everything in your life. Some things are necessary, like sleep, meals, school, and work, but the odds are good you will quickly see a pattern of the areas you can give more time to the Lord. It will require a shift in routines and schedule, but what a fulfilling shift it will be!
- Pray! - Ask the Lord to help you grow in consistency. Ask Him to give you the desire to be in the Word daily and to discern areas in your life that can be re-prioritized in order to spend more time with Him.