We’ve all been in that place where we know we should be reading God’s Word more, but we just can’t seem to find the motivation to do it. Our Bibles lay there, closed and maybe even collecting dust. How do we get out of that rut? How do we make the Bible, dare I say it, more interesting?
The first and arguably most important thing that will encourage you to read your Bible more is to have the correct view of it. We need to see the Bible for what it is - a grand narrative, written by a huge variety of people from extremely diverse backgrounds, over thousands of years, containing hundreds and hundreds of prophecies that are all fulfilled in Jesus, with stories and events and life-changing parts of history that all collectively come together to point to one person - Jesus. It’s incredible. People have tried to eradicate the Bible since it came into existence, and every single attempt has failed. We have the living word of God in our hands.
We need to stop thinking of the Bible as a collection of nice ideas, or something that could be true - because the Bible is truth. And when you read it with that mind-set, it is life changing. Before you know it, it’s as if God is speaking directly to you - because He is. So many people say they can’t hear from God, and whilst dreams, visions, images etc. from God are amazing, He has also given us the Bible, and that is fundamentally how we hear from Him.
What’s more, the Bible reveals God’s character. It shows us what He is like, and what He thinks of us. We’ve got to remember to read it as a grand narrative, and not take things out of context. When we do this, we either misinterpret what God is trying to say, or we miss out on so much value.
Okay, so we know what the Bible is and how amazing it is. But what if we’re still struggling to pick it up and read? Here are 10 tips that I think may help to motivate you to read Scripture.
1. Don’t Be Hard On Yourself
It’s important to remember that God doesn’t want you to be hard on yourself. He doesn’t want you to feel guilty because you haven’t read your Bible much this week. Conviction from the Holy Spirit is good, but as soon as you’ve brought it to God and asked Him to help you, any guilt thereafter is from the enemy. Jesus triumphed over all guilt and shame on the cross!
Whilst Bible reading plans are great, don’t get down because you haven’t been punctual with it. Recently at a prayer meeting, one of the guys asked if any of us were doing the Bible in a year challenge. I said, “Huh, yeah, or rather I meant to…I haven’t really kept up with it…” He smiled to himself and said something along the lines of,
“I think I’ve got an image from God. Imagine a chicken drumstick that doesn’t have any meat on it. When we get so bogged down with keeping up with plans and schedules and worrying if we miss a day or two, it’s like trying to get some meat off a chicken drumstick when there’s none left. Bible reading isn’t meant to be like that. It’s meant to be a special time with Jesus, and He doesn’t want us to get so engrossed in Bible plans that we miss the whole point of Bible reading - which is to strengthen our relationship with Him, not to tick off a daily plan nice and neatly.”
2. Be Creative
I’ve recently become very interested in Bible journaling. You can buy special Bibles that have large margins for you to draw and write in. There’s a whole community of believers on Instagram who journal their faith - for example, check out the hashtag #illustratedfaith. It’s so cool seeing how people are using their creativity to bring the Word of God alive! If drawing in your Bible feels a little odd for you, why not buy a journal and write out verses that you want to meditate on? Or how about making some scripture posters to put around your home?
3. Put Yourself In The Story
Another way of making the Bible more interesting is to put yourself in the story. Identify with a character, and think about what the scene would look like through your eyes. This works especially well with the gospels. What part of Jesus’ dialogue stands out to you? How do you think you would have reacted? How do you think others would have reacted?
4. Read A Daily Devotional
As I have written above, it is so important not to get bogged down in plans and devotionals if it just makes you feel rubbish when you don’t keep up with it. However, some people need a little routine, and a daily devotional could maybe help you out with your Bible reading. There are devotionals on books of the Bible, topics, themes etc. and with apps available such as YouVersion, you can even get reminders on your phone that encourage you to read the next installment of the devotional. Some devotionals only last a few days - if you don’t feel like you could commit to a Bible in-a-year plan, then why not choose a devotional that only last a week, or a few weeks, or a month?
5. Find A Bible Study Partner
I believe that one of the most powerful ways to learn new things is to learn them with other people. As much as I love and value my own personal Bible time, doing a Bible study with someone else (or in fact a group of people) can be a great way to get you motivated. It’s much easier to want to read the Bible when you also get to spend time with some of your friends (and maybe even some coffee). It’s a great way to build solid, supportive relationships. You can also use this time to pray together. What’s more, you’ll soon find that ideas are bouncing around the conversation and you leave with much more than you bargained for.
6. Find The Right Atmosphere
Sometimes I find it really useful to set up a calm, quiet place for me to really focus on Jesus. Usually I put my phone onto airplane mode, light a few candles, close the curtains and turn the lights off, find my Bible, a notepad and pen, and start off by listening to some chilled worship music, singing and praying to Jesus. After praying and worshipping for a little, it can sometimes be helpful to put on some instrumental music so as not to be distracted by the words - Bethel’s Without Words albums are particularly good.
Sometimes God will speak specific passages to me, other times He won’t - often, I think God has given me a Bible verse to read, only to realize when searching for it that it doesn’t exist - and that’s okay! It’s all a learning process on how to hear from God. As I said, sometimes He might want you to read a specific section of the Bible, and unless we try it out then we won’t know if it was His voice we heard or not. Other times, He’ll give us the choice on what to read. Let’s face it; whatever we read in the Bible, good will come out of it.
As well as setting up a specific space for me to spend time with Jesus, I also love going into coffee shops and reading His word, or on the train, or on my break at work. Integrating Bible reading into your everyday life can have a huge impact, even if it’s only a couple of verses that you read.
7. Listen To or Watch A Sermon
If you’re not sure where to start with your Bible reading, why not search for a sermon. Some of my favorite preachers are Judah Smith, Jefferson Bethke, Jon Piper, Jackie Hill Perry, Mike Pilavachi, Havilah Cunningham, Christy Wimber, Robbie Dawkins, Alan Scott, Todd White…the list goes on. You could search for a specific topic, or maybe just watch a live stream from a Church such as Hillsong. Maybe you could take notes during the sermon, or draw whilst listening, or just sit back and watch. The point is, it will most probably give you some awesome teaching, and it could encourage you to keep on reading into the subject that was preached upon.
8. Look At The Historical Context
So often we forget to look at the historical context surrounding the Scripture that we are reading. When I have heard more about the background of the text, the verses are so much more powerful and mind-blowing. It’s always a good idea, especially with the Epistles, to look at whom the letters were written to.
Also, it’s a great idea to research the culture and living conditions of the time. Most people nowadays say that Jesus was just a good man or a nice teacher, but He was actually so counter-cultural that people of the day would not have said such things! When we understand more of the culture of the time, and also the parallels between then and now, we begin to see just how life-changing Jesus is.
9. Put The Story In Modern Day Circumstances
Leading on from my last point, why not put the story you’re reading into modern day circumstances? Can you think of a modern day scene to replace the scene being talked about? Be careful that you don’t change the meaning of the text completely, however. But it’s usually a good idea to relate the Scriptures back to the here-and-now, and what it means for us today.
Last but certainly not least, pray. Pray before you read your Bible; pray whilst you’re reading, and pray when you’ve finished. Reading the Bible is meant to be time spent with your Creator, and it seems only natural to talk to Him whilst you’re doing so. It’s Holy Spirit who gives us understanding of the Scriptures; so often I have read a piece of Scripture for what feels like the hundredth time, and yet something new pops out at me. That is Holy Spirit using the Scripture to help me in my own, individual circumstance. And that’s pretty awesome.
Pray that Jesus would give you the motivation, desire, and longing in your heart to spend more time in His word. And remember that quantity is not always quality. Jesus wants you to come as you are, whether you only have five minutes spare before you go to work or you want to spend an hour doing an intensive study of a passage of Scripture. Either way, He will most certainly speak to you. All you have to do is ask Him.
‘For the word of God is alive and active.’ (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
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Alice is 18 and from England. She gave her life to Jesus about 5 years ago, and was baptized in July 2015. She feels that she is called to creative evangelism after receiving many prophecies from various people. She's a keen musician, photographer, writer, and speaker, and she hopes to involve all of these passions when sharing the love of Jesus to the world. She looks forward to moving to a city to attend university, engrossing herself in youth culture and wider communities.