Over the years, I’ve had a good number of people ask me: How do you stay consistent in the Bible? Even more, how do you actually “get into it.”
Keep in mind, I didn’t start out loving it. And even today, my desire for God’s Word tends to increase in direct proportion to the margin in my life. When I’m busy, ALL of my closest relationships often suffer, including my relationship with God. But here are 3 more things that can be the difference makers when it comes to your desire for God’s word:
(1). Force Feed yourself: Whenever I’ve gotten the flu and yacked my guts out for a for a while, the last thing I want to do is eat food. Yet, there’s a point when, eating again is the best thing for you. After forcing a little soup down, against all prevailing moods, you suddenly develop an appetite again. And the same works with God’s word.
As my friend John Bevere says: “We all hunger for that which we feed on.” Or, as I’ve often said: Feelings always seem to follow our focus. If we focus on a certain tv show, we get addicted. Whether your focus is on a crush, a certain social media site or even a style of music, your emotions will inevitably flame up in that direction. That’s why some people have the weirdest hobbies. And the same is true for God’s Word. “Where your treasure is, there your heart follows” (Mt. 6:20). So treasure it by simply reading for 10 minutes a day.
Keep in mind, many of us are miserable readers – no matter WHAT kind of book. Only about 35% of the U.S. population even reads books anymore – which is kind of sad as books can get delightfully deeper than films, tv or spoken presentations. Obviously, I’m preaching to the choir here (as you’re obviously a reader). But, it doesn’t surprise me that people struggle READING the Bible. We are unfortunately a culture that’s addicted to chicken nuggets – preprocessed bites of, mystery meat?! Don’t settle for processed spiritual foods. Add a little real meat!
(2). Find Friends who Really Love God’s Word: There was a study on exercise – why some are motivated to do it and why others are not. The study revealed an interesting ingredient for motivation. People who had friends who exercised with them were 37% more likely to exercise regularly and love it. I.e., Motivation has a huge “social component” to it. Those of us who socially surround ourselves with people with a passion for our same interest will likely find more motivation to follow through. Thus, who are the people who LOVE the Bible around you? What are you doing to get around these people?
(3). Read past the “Habit Threshold” – Research shows that the average habit takes about 66.5 days to form.* I.e., If you do something for about 10 weeks in a row, your probably pretty close to forming a “natural desire.” For example, over the years, I’ve helped thousands of men overcome porn addiction and other sexual attractions; I usually have them get daily accountability until they achieve 3-6 months of sobriety. Unfortunately, many people fail to put the effort into those critical first months; and, with any inconsistent discipline, we’re tempted to believe the lie: “Perhaps I’m just not ‘cut out’ for this type of lifestyle.” No! Just shake off the fatalism. You’re a new creation in Christ! Besides, “God is at work within you; helping you want to obey him; helping you to do what he wants” (Php 2:13)!
Of course, make sure you’re reading books of the Bible that fit your skill level. I know that you’re dying to read about the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. But, I would aim for consistency first. If you’re a beginner, start with short books like James, 1st or 2nd Peter – Or narrative books like Luke or Acts. If you’ve never read the Old Testament, try 1st Samuel.
But, every addiction starts somewhere. Even 10 minutes a day will cruise you through the entire Bible every 18 months. And the benefits are crazy: “You will be like a tree planted by streams of water, who yields its fruit in season; who’s leaf does not wither; whatever he does prospers!” (Psalm 1). Let this be said of YOU.
* A psychologist by the name of Phillipa Lally of the University College London says that habit formation takes a lot longer than most people think. She required 96 test subjects to repeat a new behavior for over twelve weeks (According to her research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology – Oct, 2010)