Written by Stephen Cox
Last week I briefly shared my desire and struggle to read the Bible regularly.
It’s often a struggle to be consistent in finding a daily time to spend with God. Children, the busyness of life, special nights out, holidays, or just sheer exhaustion can all conspire to get in the way. However, there is no substitute for just getting into a good habit.
There are many patterns that suit different people, and yours may change over time. Whatever you choose to do, guard your time with God jealously. If you come to it hungry to learn from the Lord, and to feed on the truth, it will be a place of nurture and growth, and a source of direction and strength for your daily life.
Here are a few thoughts on how to cultivate a regular Bible reading
Find a time when you will not be disturbed, and when the cobwebs are cleared from your mind. Many people have found that the morning is the best time, as it sets you up for the day.
As C.S. Lewis said: “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job of each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice… letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”
But you may not be a ‘morning person’ so last thing at night, or, if you’re free, a mid-morning break. Whatever suits you.
Jesus says that we are not to make a great show of our religion (see Matthew 6:5-6), but rather pray with the door to our room shut. So, anywhere you can be quiet and private is the key. Some people plan to get to work a few minutes earlier and get their Bible out in an office, or some other quiet corner. Some like to sit in a favourite armchair with a cup of tea at hand. Others find sitting at a table or desk more productive. The rule is that there’s no rule—whatever works for you! PRAYER
Often our problem is not so much ‘who to pray for’, as what to pray for them! That’s why Bible reading and prayer are inseparable. We are reminded from God’s Word what is truly important, and it will shape the nature of our prayers for ourselves, the world and others. Perhaps you could pray each day for one family member, one friend, and a fellow believer? And how about keeping a prayer diary where you record your prayer requests, and also how God has answered them.
It’s just as well that God has placed us in a community of believers. People who are willing to pray for me, encourage me and keep me accountable. People who understand the struggles but are so convinced that feasting on the good things in God’s Word each day is so important that they are willing to put themselves out to ensure that I get stuck in. People who talk to me and ask me tough questions like, “what did you learn in your quiet time today?”
Having that kind of encouragement keeps even me on the straight and narrow (most of the time!). Having my brothers and sisters lovingly nudge me on a regular basis, helps me see beyond the urgent and make time for the essential. And I am so grateful to God for each one of them.
If you have the same struggles, why not open up to a few people in your congregation about how hard you are finding it to get your quiet times done? Let them spur you on to reading God’s Word. It’ll be a good way for them to exercise the gift of encouragement…and a great way to ensure that you grow.
As the saying goes: ”Expression deepens impression”. So try to cultivate the habit of sharing with other believers the things you have learned from your reading. It will encourage both them and you.
It’s quality, not quantity, that counts. Better a few minutes thinking about a few verses, than to skim through pages without absorbing anything.
Falling behind: It’s inevitable that you will occasionally miss a day. Don’t be paralyzed by guilt. Just start again.
It’s about developing a love relationship, not a law relationship. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that ‘doing your quiet time’ is an end in itself. The sign that your daily time with God is real is when you start to love Him more and serve more wholeheartedly.
How ever you go about it, the most important thing is to be doing it. God in his mercy has chosen to speak to us; why wouldn’t we listen?
Why not take the time to commit yourself prayerfully to God, and plan to read and pray.