It’s one of the foundations of your spiritual growth in Christ
My journey as a Christian hasn’t been so long, actually. My childhood growing up in the church doesn’t count, I say, because my heart wasn’t in it. It was forced on me, like with many kids. Sadly, forcing it does not produce a genuine faith experience, so it’s ultimately futile!
But I came back around to Christianity about three years ago now, and this time my heart is in it 100%. Now that my faith is genuine, the result of returning to Jesus Christ by choice (the only way it works!) and in my own way has been steady spiritual growth as I continue to seek Him.
I’ve continued adding on to my ‘spiritual workout routine’ gradually with the passage of time. I started out with my prayer routine and visits to the local cathedral, then I began ordering books and researching various topics in Christianity, and at the beginning of this year I added one more practice to the routine, a very basic and indispensable one for any Christian: A daily Bible reading habit. It’s critical to build this habit!
I’ve done two full read-throughs of The Bible before, so this year I’ve started my third. I plan to do one full read-through a year from here on out, year after year after year. Since it’s becoming strongly ingrained as a habit now (I start each morning with The Bible and some coffee), these daily readings will become a part of my life.
I don’t read The Bible to memorize passages so I can quote Scripture all the time. I don’t take notes (although I sometimes copy/paste passages into a TXT file I keep adding to). I’m not trying to deeply analyze each passage, nor do I do deep research on the historical context of every book. I’m not trying to become a Bible scholar; I’m just a Christian who reads his Bible every day and tries his honest best to follow The Word.
Trying to do so is a perilously tall order. It requires total devotion and can even cost you everything (in exchange for gaining everything in return). And no matter how hard any of us try, we’re still guaranteed to stumble anyway!
But that’s not what this article is about. This is about building a Bible reading habit itself, and the benefits of doing it.
Building Your Bible Reading Habit
Well first, I think you’re gonna need a Bible. Seems important. Don’t worry — I have a free one to tell you about (and no I’m not sponsored by them)!
Pick Your Version
If you’d like to read The Bible for the first time or the zillionth time, I can’t stress enough that you choose a version that’s easy for you to read and understand. Choose the version that speaks to you the clearest. This is vital because The Word is living, it speaks to you. Choose the version you connect with.
I don’t like reading Olde English, it complicates the meaning and significantly slows my reading. That’s why I personally prefer the Common English Bible (CEB). It transcreates The Bible into modern English, making it much easier to read and understand.
The CEB version really speaks to me. I can feel the message, I can feel The Holy Spirit within me drawing my attention to certain passages. When this happens, it’s more than me just agreeing with the words; I’ve felt what they’re talking about in my own life, or I can understand what the characters are feeling, or I just know the wisdom of the words, having learned similar lessons from my own life experience.
I believe my being able to experience The Bible like this is in very large part thanks to the text being in modern English — God wants to talk to us individually, in the ways we understand Him best. Why wouldn’t He? He knows all our strengths and limitations, our talents and weak points. And He loves us for all of those.
The Bible App; Reading Plans
This is why I recommend The Bible App (aka YouVersion, aka Bible.com) by Life.Church. It’s free, it’s available on smartphones (or whatever), and it lets you switch between tons of different versions (and languages) of The Bible quickly. It also offers various kinds of reading plans you can complete.
The Bible in One Year 2020 With Nicky Gumbel is the plan I’m reading now. Each day has a selection of Old and New Testament passages or full chapters. For me, it’s about 30 to 45 minutes (on average) of reading a day.
These reading plans are the key to making a habit of reading The Bible daily. The plans will help you ease into reading if this is all new to you, and continuing to follow the plans every day without giving up will soon (21 or 28 days to create a new habit, right??) create a strongly-ingrained habit of reading The Bible daily.
My recommendation is to go for a full Bible read-through plan, one that lasts a year. The reasonably-sized 30-minute chunks will stop you from burning out early, and the fresh content every day will keep you from getting bored. The plans are organized in a way that will take you through the entire Old and New Testaments in a way that makes sense.
The Benefits of Reading The Bible Daily
I’ll never say that I find every single passage inspirational.
Right now, for example, I’ve reached Exodus in the Old Testament readings, and I’ve hit the part where God gives detailed step-by-step instructions for building the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Tabernacle, the priest’s garments, and so on and so forth. Precise measurements, precise materials, precise instructions … interesting, but not applicable to my own life or situation.
Even if my daily readings aren’t inspirational each day, it’s OK. That makes it even more special when a passage does hit me, and when I do read something that was exactly what I needed to hear right at that moment (sometimes God directly answers the exact questions we’ve been asking Him through His Word, but we have to keep reading to get those answers).
There are still plenty of benefits to reading The Bible daily even if those special, inspirational moments of connecting with God don’t happen every day.
Know God’s Word
Perhaps obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. If we want to obey God in our lives as Christians, God’s Word is the only acceptable blueprint for knowing what our lives should then look like. How can we obey God’s Word if we don’t know what it is? Read The Bible every day and build up knowledge of it over time.
Encouragement and Inspiration
Life is hard, and comes with so many worries, anxieties, troubles, and tragedies. One thing you’ll notice when you start reading The Bible is that life has always been hard, for everyone. The Bible is a story about the human condition, about life in this fallen world, and how we don’t need to worry about that if we just have faith in Jesus — we get something much better in the world to come.
Many characters in The Bible have also gone through the same struggles that we experience today. The Book of Job is my favorite example for this.
I’ll summarize the story for any who aren’t familiar: Job was a very faithful man who loved God. The devil told God that Job only loved him so much because God had blessed him with success, wealth, and so on. God allowed the devil to strike Job with calamity and terrible sickness; all of Job’s children were killed, and he lost everything. The Book of Job is a story of Job lamenting his suffering and his condition, but refusing to curse God or renounce his faith no matter what, while also standing by his own honest, bitter feelings about his situation (by the way, the epilogue in the final chapter of Job says that God restored Job, blessing Job’s latter years more than his early years and giving him ten children).
Job wishes for his own death as a merciful end to his pain in Job 6:8–11, and then once again in Job 10:18–22. His friends who had come to visit with him during his time of suffering rebuked him for saying this, but Job was brutally honest with both them and God, saying: “I want to die.”
How many of us have been there before? I know I have, and I’ve also prayed prayers similar to Job’s before in my life. So later on, when I read these parts of The Book of Job, they really resonated with me. “Oh, here’s someone in The Bible who prayed for death too!” Before me, Job had already been there. I can stay strong in my faith then, knowing that just like in Job’s story, God will ultimately take the bad in my life and turn it to good in the end as long as I keep the faith, even when things are bleak and hopeless. Especially during those times, actually. God’s good resolution of the situation will be all the more incredible the worse things are right now.
These stories of people who’ve been there before, who’ve faced the same struggles, they offer hope and encouragement. God was there for them, and He will be there for us too if we believe and stay faithful.
Learn some History
For the history buffs out there. The Bible is an excellent, highly detailed, and ancient primary source about life in ancient times. What was life like back then? What did people eat and drink? How did they spend their days? The Bible offers glimpses into all those aspects of life in ancient times and is interesting on its own for that alone.
Start Working out Your Spiritual Muscles
We have to exercise physically to stay physically healthy, and we have to exercise mentally to continue acquiring knowledge as well as staying sharp as we get older by exercising our brains.
In addition, we have to exercise spiritually as well!
To exercise our spiritual muscles as Christians, we need to engage in spiritual practices meant for connecting with Jesus Christ. Prayer, church, and of course reading The Bible.
Just like with other kinds of exercise, engaging in these things and making a routine out of them will gradually deepen your spirituality and strengthen your relationship with Jesus over time; if you stick with it, that is!
Be persistent and stick with it! That’s the most important part, just like with physical exercise. Keep trying to seek Jesus, and you’ll get spiritually stronger the more you keep it up. Don’t try to do too much right at the start, because that can lead to early burnout and you giving up. Challenge yourself to level up gradually over time, adding more spiritual practices at your own pace, just as if you were lifting weights.
If this sounds like something you’d like to do, creating a daily Bible reading habit is a great place to start.
Draw Your Own Conclusions
When it comes to your ideas of who God is and what They’re like, how did you come by those ideas? Did you form them yourself? And if so, how? Did you form them from your own personal experience, or some other way?
Or, did you perhaps allow parents, priests, or other persons of spiritual authority in your life shape your ideas of God from an early age? It’s OK if that’s the case, I think many people accept what’s told to them about God early on and don’t change their perceptions from that, they don’t pursue the question any deeper.
Well, you can come to your own conclusions now. God gave you eyes with which you can read (or other means of reading), and a mind for understanding. You don’t need a priest or anyone else to interpret for you — read The Bible for yourself and form your own opinions. What you think and feel in reaction to what you read is real, it’s all valid. And keep pondering the passages you have the strongest reactions to; you might come to some realization about them later on down the road. Perhaps even much later.
What do you think God is like? Benevolent? Harsh? Generous? Judging? Your opinion of this will shape your personal relationship with God, so it’s critical for you to form your own opinion rather than let someone else do it for you. And all the other controversial topics within Christianity, you can (and should) form your own opinions on those too. Your relationship with God together with God’s Word in The Bible is the basis for forming those opinions.
As Christians, we should try to connect with God as much and as often as we can. A daily Bible reading habit stands out as one of the most important spiritual practices for us to do. God has laid out the path to our salvation in His Word. Following the Word is by no means easy … but it will be impossible if you don’t know The Word to begin with!!
The free reading plans available on the free The Bible App by Life.Church will help you ease into reading The Bible, offering you reasonably-sized 30-minute chunks of reading (in the one-year plan) each day. Following the plans with their daily readings will help you turn reading The Bible into a strong habit. And for Christians especially, this is a habit that provides immense spiritual benefit and is well worth building.