Several years ago, a friend told me he was struggling to read the Bible. He knew he should read the Bible, but he had no desire to. He’d rather read the news, check sports scores, or look up stock prices. So, what could he do?
Many think the solution lies in trying harder, committing to a certain time every day, or asking for accountability. These can help, but by themselves, they miss the main way God wants to motivate us. James 2:17 says that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” So whenever I lack good works, like Bible reading, my problem is not mostly laziness or lack of discipline. My problem is a lack of faith. I am not trusting what God has promised about his word.
So, I gave my friend a list of what God promises to do for us through the Scriptures. I encouraged him to pray over these promises for a few minutes each day, asking God to use these promises to strengthen his faith and change his heart. He said he would.
A few weeks later, I asked how it was going. “Unbelievable,” he said. He told me that by meditating on these promises he now wanted to read God’s word, he looked forward to reading God’s word, and he was carving out extra time to read God’s word. That’s what God did for my friend. And that’s what God will do for us, if we learn, remember, and trust what he has promised.
Four Great Promises
If you have really struggled to read the Bible more than you do, take some time alone with God at the beginning of this year. Ask him to strengthen your faith in what he says about his word. And then think and pray over promises like these.
1. God’s word will revive your soul.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. (Psalm 19:7)
God’s heart-reviving work flows through the pipeline of his word. So, no matter how unspiritual you feel, when you prayerfully read God’s word, in time you will experience God changing your heart. When your heart feels dull and Bible reading seems boring, remember that his word revives the soul.
2. God’s word will light your path.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Because of sin and Satan’s lies, our path is dark. We can’t see the sharp turns, steep drop-offs, or quicksand pits. But God promises that reading his word is like shining a flashlight on a dark path. His voice shows us things we cannot see, and leads us where to walk. When the future is unclear and you don’t know what to do next, remember that his word lights our paths.
3. God’s word will free you from sin.
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31–32)
Our sins are like individual chains wrapped around us and locked. In ourselves, we are powerless against them. But Jesus promises that when we abide in his word, praying over it and meditating on it, locks will spring open and chains will fall away. When you fall back into an old pattern of sin or discover a besetting sin that was hidden in your heart, remember his word can set you free.
4. God’s word will strengthen your faith.
Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
Too often our faith feels like a flat tire, but God promises to use his word to fill us with faith. This means that reading God’s word is like fastening a pump to that tire, and pumping in air. It won’t be flat for long. When your relationship with God feels flat or he seems far away, remember that his word strengthens and nourishes our faith.
Pray over these promises (and dozens of others). Ask God to help you see their truth, believe their truth, and feel their truth. He will change your heart so that reading God’s word will no longer be something you have to do, but something you want to do.
Once you have anchored your heart with promises from God, here are some simple suggestions to help you begin reading the Bible more.
1. Choose a strategic time. There’s wisdom in starting the day in God’s word, so you can head into the day with life, light, power, and faith.
2. Choose an undistracted, quiet place.
3. Use a fairly literal version of the Bible like the English Standard Version or the New American Standard Version.
4. Use a Bible reading plan that will tell you what to read every day, and take you through the whole Bible systematically.
5. Begin by asking God to incline your heart to his word (Psalm 119:36), and to open your eyes to see his glory (Psalm 119:18).
6. Expect God to show you his glory, convict you of sin, teach you his truth, satisfy you with his presence, fill you with worship, call you to obedience, assure you of his love.
7. When you are finished for the day, thank him for what he gave you through his word, and think about sharing what you received with someone else.
Get All You Can
You may already be reading God’s word consistently. But maybe you could receive even more from God’s word by spending even more time in God’s word. King David says this about the words of God: “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).
Much fine gold would be worth millions of dollars, and honey is deliciously satisfying. Imagine having a book that, the more you read, the more gold and honey you receive? Think of it: every ten extra minutes of reading is worth more than money can buy and tastes sweeter than the finest desserts. What an amazing book! You’d want to read it as much as you can.
But the Bible is even better than that book, because the more you read the Bible, the more you get of God himself — and God is infinitely more valuable than gold, and far more satisfying than honey.
So, think of how you spent your time over the last year. Are there schedule changes you can make, or time wasters you can avoid, so that you can read more of God’s word? Don’t cheat yourself. God’s word gives more value than gold or Amazon, and more satisfaction than honey or whatever your cravings are. Get all you can this year.