There is an interesting excuse that most of us use at some point to explain our inability to get something done. We say, “I don’t have time”, and feel justified that that particular job doesn’t get done. One of my chores around the house is vacuuming the dog hair off the basement steps–and since I am not a fan of vacuuming and think the dog should clean up his own hair, there are occasions when I skip the task because I don’t really have time.
The difficulty is that I might not have time to vacuum the steps, but I manage to find time to watch my favourite show, watch YouTube, read and so on–all of which require as much or more time as vacuuming the steps. I, like most people, manage to find time for the things that I really want to do.
And so when I hear someone tell me that they would like to read the Bible but don’t have time, I tend to think of the basement steps and hear something very different. Rather than the lack of time, there is a lack of will. The desire to read the Bible isn’t as strong as the roadblocks in the way. Some of these roadblocks have already been dealt with such as finding a compatible translation and making use of the various tools available.
We can also help ourselves by developing some structure and planning around our Bible reading. The goal is to develop Bible reading into a habit. Habits develop as a result of regular repetition until the activity becomes an automatic part of our lives. We develop habits because they can be very effective and efficient and help us organize our lives better.
To develop a Bible reading habit–or any kind of habit for that matter, we need to create structure. Structure begins with setting aside a specific time to read the Bible. It can be a chronological time–every day from 8:03am to 8:23am, for example. It can be a time tied to something else–every day, after lunch, read for 20 minutes. It can be a time that allows for multi-tasking–my Bible reading happens when I am riding my exercise bike. What matters here is that the time be available and that the reader is capable of reading and comprehending at that time. I would never schedule reading time for me at 11:00pm at night because I don’t read well at that time–I just want to go to sleep.
The place for reading is almost as important as the time. Some people create a special reading place where they are comfortable and relaxed and can focus. I find the exercise bike in the basement works well for me. The place should reinforce the focus on the Bible for the reader. Associating the place and the reading reinforces the habit. It also allows the reader to have a specific location to leave resources and materials.
So, the time is set, the place is designated. Now, the reader needs a plan. In spite of what many thing, it is not a good plan to begin at Genesis 1.1 and read through to Revelation 22.21. As I mentioned earlier, that will stumble in Exodus, fall in Leviticus and die in Numbers, if it lasts that long.
There are a variety of Bible reading plans that help people read through the Bible. Some are based on one year, some on two years and some three years. A bit of searching on the Web or through church or denominational or para-church resources will locate one. A reader can also develop a personal plan–mine, for example, involves reading through the Old and New Testaments at the same time, a few chapters from each. That way, if one part is boring, the other will carry it. The advantage of a plan is that it gives the reader a sense of accomplishment and goal–readers can see their progress.
While some might question the process of making Bible reading a habit, I think it is a great idea. We find time for what we want to do–and if creating a new habit allows us to read the Bible more frequently, that is great. We have no problem developing bad habits–so why not put some effort into developing some good habits?
May the peace of God be with you.