It would always be the first few days after the New Year began that I would give up on my Bible reading plan. Whenever I committed to reading through the Bible, I would anxiously think about how I had failed the last year–What would make this year different? Would I really be able to do it? Shame and guilt filled my heart, and I wondered if I would ever really follow through. And if I couldn't even finish a Bible reading plan, what sort of Christian was I?
Seeing Our Struggle Through a Gospel Lens
The problem with these thoughts was that they were centered on me, and they were not filtered through the lens of the gospel. When we commit to a Bible reading plan, it cannot be because we think this will earn us favor with God or that we will finally become a better Christian. Both ideas ignore what has happened because of Jesus and His atoning work on the cross. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we rest in what He has done. When the Lord sees us, He sees Christ's righteousness. There is nothing we can do to earn favor with God. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection was and is enough. The gospel truly informs us about who we are and everything we do.
The implications of this are tremendous as you persevere in your Bible reading. You are not reading to make God happy with you. He already looks at you and is well-pleased. You can read your Bible out of love for the One who has saved you, knowing He desires to meet with you and instruct you in His Word. Understanding the Bible is part of your treasured inheritance as an adopted son or daughter of God because He has opened your eyes to see the truth. The Bible is your nourishment and sustenance as you wander this temporary home, preparing for the country that is eternal.
As you endeavor to read and study the Bible, know that you will only be able to do so because of the strength the Lord gives you. There will be days when your efforts seem hopeless and inadequate, but you are not on your own. Though you could not do it out of your own strength, the Lord is with you and will help you.
There are a few practical questions you can ask yourself to help you through your temptation to throw in the towel.
Are the expectations I have for myself regarding Bible reading and study realistic for my season?
There will likely be times when your Bible study routine will shift due to the season of life. A stay-at-home mom with four kids under the age of five will have much less free time than a single college student or a young, newly married woman. As believers, we need the Word of God, but your time with the Lord may not look like a perfectly quiet hour by the fire with your Bible and a cup of coffee. Sometimes having too great an expectation of what your time with the Lord should look like keeps you from coming to Him in the first place. Listening to your audio Bible for twenty to thirty minutes while doing household chores and then meditating later about what you listened to after the kids go to sleep is still a wonderful way to meet with God. Get into your Bible, whatever it takes, even if your quiet time isn't quiet at all or if the place you read looks like a disaster zone rather than the setting of a beautiful Instagram post.
Do I have a plan, and do I have the tools I need?
Another thing that can inhibit us from Bible study is not having a plan for where to begin.
Where are you reading in your Bible?
If you don't have an idea of where to start, you can read through the Bible in a year along with the Daily Grace Co. on our app, or you could use a chronological Bible reading plan. The Daily Grace Co. also has lots of studies on books of the Bible to help you dig into the Word. The study, "Search the Word", would be a great one to begin with if you are new to studying Scripture in depth.
What tools do you have to help you read and study?
Consider setting up a Bible study basket with the following items: a print copy of your favorite translation of the Bible, a notebook to jot down thoughts as you write, a prayer journal to help guide your time talking to the Lord, and some fun pens and highlighters.
Are you in need of any of these tools I mentioned above? The "Abide" Journal is a great resource to help guide you through taking notes during your Bible study. It also has a spot to jot down your prayer requests, adorations of the Lord, and notes during sermons or podcasts. These fun pastel highlighters and pens would also be nice to have as you read! And, they are beautiful!
Have I set myself up for success with where and when I study?
Intentional planning for reaching a goal can truly help you follow through. If you are consistently missing your time with the Lord, it might be beneficial to sit with your planner or a sheet of paper and map out what your week looks like. Find a time that you could meet with the Lord consistently every day, and carefully think about the times and location you pick for studying your Bible. Select a backup time just in case something happens to throw off your schedule. Schedule changes are normal! Don't let this throw you off or become discouraging! Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is the time I've chosen to study my Bible one where I could be easily stressed out or thinking about the next thing I need to do?
- Am I too sleepy or tired during the time I've chosen?
- Am I reading and studying my Bible in a place where everything I need is close by?
Remember Where You are Headed
One of the mindsets that has most helped me continue in my Bible reading is to think of what kind of woman I want to be when I am almost finished with my time here on earth. When my children speak of me at the end of my life, will they remember how much I treasured God's Word? Will they talk about how I read it every day and was faithful to it? I want my children and their children to have a godly heritage–a family who has faithfully loved the Bible. The time I spend in my Bible now, though I can't see it yet, matters for eternity. There are great impacts that come from the small habits of faithfulness we commit to today.
Verses to Cling To
Verses to cling to if you are struggling with reading God's Word:
Psalm 119:18, Proverbs 2:1-5, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Colossians 3:16, Isaiah 40:8
For more information and helpful tips on Bible study, you can find advice in these podcast episodes from The Daily Grace Co.:
"Bible Study in Busy Seasons" - Episode 3
"Mediation: Studying God's Word with Your Heart and Mind" - Episode 29
"Setting Bible Study Goals" - Episode 46
"Seeing Christ in All of Scripture" - Episode 92
"This is His Year: Bible Study Goals for the New Year" - Episode 100