Daily Bible reading is life-giving. When you are in a healthy rhythm of communing with God through Bible reading and prayer, there is a prevailing grace that accompanies daily motions. But if you’re like me, honestly, sometimes regular Bible reading can feel more like a daily habit than a daily grace.
So how do you get your heart back into your Bible reading? How do you turn mindless repetition back into meaningful rhythm? Here are five suggestions.
1. Before you engage the written Word, engage the Living Word. Pray that the Lord will give you a mind to understand, a heart to value, and a will to obey what you are about to read. When I jump into Bible reading too quickly, sometimes I get halfway through a chapter before I realize that I have been reading the words on the page while thinking about something else entirely. It doesn’t have to be a long prayer – just a simple, meditative, focused invitation to God that He might meet you in this devotional rhythm. Beginning your Bible reading with prayer is a great way to clear your mind and invite the Lord’s voice into the space of your rhythmic devotional practice.
2. As you read, keep primary points primary and secondary points secondary. Ask, “What is the main point of this passage of scripture? What high-level, big idea do I need to take away from my Bible reading this morning?” It is true that every written word of God contains a wealth of wisdom that no reader could ever fully exhaust. But each passage of scripture is given to you by God with some primary truth in mind. Discover those primary truths, believe them and act on them. They will help you filter all of your secondary questions appropriately.
3. Spend more time on what the text says than on what it does not say. Yes, there are all kinds of things the Bible does not say. But the wisdom of God revealed through the pages of scripture is inexhaustible by the finite human mind. To believe in the God of written revelation is to trust His goodness to us in both what He has chosen to reveal and what He has chosen not to reveal. It is neither uncommon nor unhealthy to walk away from your daily Bible reading with more questions than answers. But the answers you do walk away with are those truths that the Author has intended for you to know and live. One answer from God’s Word is worth a thousand questions it might raise. And if you read with devoted, rhythmic expectation, more answers will come over time as you grow closer to the heart of the Author.
But the rhythms of grace compel us to trade in our thoughts for God’s thoughts – to value how the Divine Author would have us think more than we value what we think about what He has written.
4. Focus less on what you think about the passage and more on how the passage should shape the way you think. In every sitting, you will bring a goulash of compounding (and sometimes conflicting) viewpoints to the rhythm of Bible reading. It is only natural that we filter what we read through what consumes most of our thought life and emotional life at the moment. The way we think and the way we feel affects the way we read. But the rhythms of grace compel us to trade in our thoughts for God’s thoughts – to value how the Divine Author would have us think more than we value what we think about what He has written. His thoughts are not ours. They are much higher. To fill yourself with the delightfulness of God’s Word, elevate your mind to the heavenly table. Allow the written Word to challenge and shape the way you think rather than allowing the way you think to challenge or shape what you are reading.
5. Value transformation over knowledge. There is a goal in mind. There is a purpose to your devotional, rhythmic reading of God’s Word. The goal is not that you might accumulate factual knowledge from the Bible. The goal is to be transformed into the image of Christ. When it comes to the intersection of Bible reading and Christian living, there is infinitely more value in what you do with what you know than there is in what you know to do. If you come to the pages of scripture with a primary goal to fill your head with knowledge, you will miss the glory of spiritual transformation. Every day, at the conclusion of your Bible reading, ask, “Today, what does God want me to do with what I have come to know?” Allow your reading not only to shape the way you think, but the way you live.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tony Wolfe is director of pastor/church relations for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. This article first appeared in the Southern Baptist TEXAN. Reprinted with permission.)