New Year’s is a time when we typically attack our goals with fresh resolve, including our Bible reading goals. But often that resolve diminishes around mid-February. And I get it. Regularly Bible reading is not easy. Like anything worth doing, it takes time and intention and discipline.
So how can you and I establish a habit of reading Scripture that lasts all year long? Here aer 23 tips for getting into God’s Word in 2023.
1. Read your bible even when you don’t feel like it
You may have no desires to read the Bible. If that’s where you are, acknowledge it. But don’t let the lack of desire win. Don’t wait for the feeling to want to – it may not come. The reality it, discipline will actually lead to delight. Discipline is a word we don’t really like in our culture, but God can take your obedience and turn it into joy. So pick up your Bible even when you don't feel like reading it.
2. Ask God to give you a greater love for His Word
The Bible tells us that if we ask for anything according to God’s will, He hears us and gives us what we ask for. This request is certainly in line with the heart of God. Ask God to give you the “want to” to read His Word, and He will! It may not happen overnight, but I promise you, it will happen. Your love for God’s word will increase as you continue to spend time in it.
3. Make an appointment with God
Think about your Bible reading time as an appointment you can't miss. If it helps, block it off on your calendar. We are creatures of habit, and so keeping the same time and same place (at least initially) helps establish the rhythm of daily Bible reading.
4. Put all your Bible study materials right where you need them
To avoid wasting time looking for or collecting your Bible materials, keep them in the place you will be using them. This could be in a basket, on a desk or on bookshelf beside the chair you will be using when you read your Bible every morning.
5. Morning is better
I know I’ve just offended half of you who aren’t morning people, and I get it. My husband is not a morning person. It’s difficult for him to have a coherent conversation first thing in the morning, but even he reads his bible in the morning. As an avid morning person myself, I just want to put a plug in for mornings. Reading your Bible first thing in the morning sets the tone for the day. It allows you to pray over your day and gives God an opportunity to speak to you.
6. Pick up your Bible before your phone
Need I say more? Probably not, but I will. This is one I occasionally still struggle with, but the moment I pick up my phone, I’m already distracted with the things of the day. I want a clear mind when I’m reading Scripture, and my phone only adds voices and images to my thoughts, luring me away from the truth and simplicity of the word. So let's pick up our Bibles before our phones.
7. Read the Bible right before bed
I know I just told you to read your Bible in the morning, and that is still the best practice, but in addition read a chapter of Scripture or listen to it on audio right before you turn out the lights. The truth of God's Word will be in your mind as you drift off to sleep.
8. Choose a Bible reading plan
There are many Bible reading plans to choose from. A plan eliminates the wondering what to read next. You can read the Bible in a year or multiple years. This also ensures you are studying those books that are less familiar. You could choose a plan that is a slower, deeper study of one book, or perhaps a topical Bible reading plan. Find bible reading plans on YouVersion, She Reads Truth, or simply google Bible reading plan.
9. Use a Bible study guide
We live in a time in which Bible studies are plentiful. We have so many Bible study resources to choose from. Topical studies or studies that go straight through a book of the Bible are available. I have Bible studies on my website and there are more coming soon!
10. Don’t expect to understand everything
You won’t understand everything you read. In fact, you can be a student of God’s Word for the rest of your life and you still won’t understand everything, and that’s ok. Don’t let that discourage you. Celebrate what you do understand and that you are growing in your understanding.
11. Ask God to give you a greater understanding of His Word
I told you earlier to ask God to give you a greater love for His word, but you can also ask Him to give you a greater understanding. Since the Bible is alive and active, the Holy Spirit gives spiritual wisdom and revelation. Ask Him for more of this!
12. Follow these steps: Pray. Read. Journal. Pray.
What should your time in the word look like? It really doesn’t have to follow a formula or even be the same every day. But if you are wanting to know how to start, then do these 4 things:
Pray to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you.
Read the passage for the day.
Journal your response to God.
Pray through the passage and for your personal needs.
13. Reading the Bible is like a savings account
This idea is borrowed from Jen Wilkin. When we read the Bible each day it’s like we are making regular deposits in a savings account. We won’t always withdraw some warm fuzzy to carry around in our pocket for the day, but we are making deposits and our biblical literacy is accumulating. One day you will look back in amazement at all you have learned.
14. Don’t view reading the Bible as a task
Reading the Bible is not something to check off a list. It’s a conversation with God. When we start to think of it as just another item on our to do list, it becomes drudgery instead of delight.
15. Pair Bible reading with an existing habit
Maybe you will read your Bible while you are drinking your morning coffee, or while you are eating breakfast, or listen to it on your commute. Pairing it with another already established habit will help you stick with this new habit.
16. Don’t despair if you miss a day
Life happens. The kids get sick and are up all night. You get sick. Someone needs you during your regular Bible reading time. These things happen, and when they do, don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is a new day and you can simply jump right back in. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
17. Listen to the audio Bible
For all you multitaskers out there, combine your Bible time with another task. Listen to it in the car or on a walk or while putting laundry away or doing the dishes. What a great way to redeem the time!
18. Start an accountability group
Invite your friends to read the Bible with you. Choose a passage and a plan and then email these friends daily about what you are reading in Scripture. It doesn’t have to be long email - just a few short sentences about what you read and how God is speaking to you. If you know there are friends waiting for your email, it might be the little nudge you need to keep with the habit.
19. Don’t expect your quiet time to be quiet
If you have young kids or even teenagers, your quiet time may not be quiet. And don’t think the moment your kids are up, you’ve missed your chance. When they are young, let them play while you read your Bible. When your kids are teens, open your Bible while they are packing their lunches before school. It’s really good for your kids to see you in God’s Word.
20. Set a goal for reading the Bible in 2023
If you are motivated by goals, set a Bible reading goal for 2023. The most obvious goal is to read the Bible in a year, but maybe that’s not what you want to do this year. You could chose 12 books and study one a month in 2023. Another idea is to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice. Perhaps you want to read the Bible chronologically. You could do a really deep dive in one book for the entire year, or perhaps your goal is to read one chapter a day for the whole year. The options are endless.
21. Try creative ways to interact with Scripture
There are many creative ways to interact with the Bible: journaling, handwriting, reading aloud, paraphrasing etc. Creativity in approaching God’s word will help to keep you engaged.
22. Know that time in God’s Word is never wasted
You can do many things to waste your time, but spending time on the pages of Scripture is never wasted. God’s word goes forth from His mouth and always accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it. It never returns void.
23. Read the Bible to know God better
The reason we read Scripture is to get to know God. God has revealed Himself through His written Word, Yes, God has revealed Himself in creation as well; we call this general revelation. But God has revealed His character and ways specifically in His Word. This is always the highest motivation, the purpose, and the outcome of reading the Bible. You are investing in your relationship with Him. Read the Bible to know God better.
I hope you've found something above that will help you in establishing a regular rhythm for getting into God's Word this year. It really is the greatest thrill!
To download a copy of the free 10 questions worksheet so you can journal your responses, click the button below.