Most of us have been there at one time or another…struggling to get in the word, and making excuses because we are too tired, too busy, too fill-in-the-blank. But if we really stopped and were honest with ourselves, our excuses (though they may seem valid, and some might be) are really not okay. What our excuses reveal is an underlying heart issue. We are being too me-oriented with our time, rather than God-oriented. Once we begin to see our time as not our own, but God’s, then we will begin to make room for daily communion with Him. Over the last year, God has been growing me in a couple areas of spiritual discipline. Specifically, daily time in the Word and prayer. Today, I am going to share some things that I have learned, over the last year, that have helped me successfully get in the habit of daily time in the Word.
1. Stop Making Excuses
For years I have made excuses, or put off getting in the habit of being in the Word, because life was “too busy”. I have been saying this since high school, “Well maybe when I’m in college, and I have more time(HA!), then I will get in the word.” And then college hit and my excuse became, “well maybe when I graduate, and I have more time (double HA!), then I will get in the word.” Of course, you see where this is going, life continued to happen, we had children, then I had “real” excuses as to why I was just too busy and too tired.
If this sounds familiar to you, know that God is gracious! His love and acceptance is not dependent on how often you read your bible. You don’t have to “have it all together”. You are accepted by the Father because of the finished work of Jesus. He lived the perfect life we could not live. However, this grace should drive us to repent of our apathy and pursue Christ!
About a year ago, God convicted me of my indifference toward my personal relationship with Him. I knew that in order to effectively make disciples of my children, and others God has placed in my life, I needed to begin abiding in the Word of God. I needed to make time with Him a priority!
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. -John 15:4-5
2. Make It A Priority
Just like anything else, getting in the Word takes discipline. Perhaps that is why it is called a “spiritual discipline”. You have to prioritize it! It takes consistent work to form a habit. I liken getting in the habit of daily bible reading, to going to the gym. The hardest part about going to the gym is going to the gym. Am I right?! Once you get to the gym, and workout, you feel so good afterward and you’re glad you pushed yourself to go.
The same is true when it comes to reading your bible! The hardest part (for me) is getting out of bed in the morning. Once I’m up, and I have sat down with my steaming hot coffee, my journal, and my bible, I find my spirit is so renewed afterward! As a good friend of mine says, “discipline brings delight”. Getting in the word consistently takes discipline. You will not always feel like getting in the Word, and you will not always have major AHA! moments. You may have days where you feel like you didn’t get anything out of it. May I just encourage you, keep persevering! Don’t make getting in the Word about how you are feeling. Instead, view getting in the word as a discipline, and eventually you will begin to delight in your sweet quiet time with Jesus. A deeper relationship with your heavenly Father, is worth it! It is the only relationship that can truly satisfy!
3. Get Accountability
This is the #1 thing that I can recommend to you today if you are struggling to get in the Word. Get some accountability! According to a study on behavior science, having a plan (more on that later!) and sharing those plans with others, creates accountability which makes follow-through more likely. So find a few other women who are also struggling to get in the word daily and form a discipleship group! My friends and I do this using the GroupMe app. Check-in with each other daily, share what God is teaching you through His Word, and hold each other accountable. When you see that someone hasn’t “checked-in” for a few days, have the boldness to reach out to her privately, find out how she is doing, and encourage her to get back in the Word.
Just remember to show each other grace! Life happens, kids get sick, schedules change and sometimes we lose our rhythm. With that said, I have had well-meaning friends enable me to continue to make excuses for why I wasn’t spending time in the Word daily. Be gracious and loving, while also exhorting and admonishing one another to grow in the spiritual discipline of reading the Word.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. -Colossians 3:16
4. Have A Plan
Set your alarm! Know where you are going to read your bible, and what you are going to read. Be consistent! As I mentioned earlier, having a plan makes you more likely to follow through. You are more likely to follow through on your good intentions when you have developed a plan. Studies show that “guiding people to unpack the when, where, and how of fulfilling their intentions can increase their likelihoods of following through. In part that’s because making an action plan overcomes people’s tendency to procrastinate”. It is SO important to have a plan!
One of my biggest hang-ups was simply not knowing what to do. What has been working for me right now has been the Community Bible Reading (CBR) plan. I will share more about CBR in-depth in a later post. In short, it is a daily bible reading plan that is intended to be done in community. I love getting to discuss the daily reading with my friends and church family! It is incredible to hear the different things that the Holy Spirit revealed to others through the same scripture passages! There is no “right way” to approach studying the Word of God. The most important thing is that you find something that works for you!
5. Change It Up
Lastly, change it up! If you have been trying something and it hasn’t been working for you, try something new. For example, if doing your bible reading in the morning after breakfast isn’t working, because your kids keep interrupting you (been there!), find another time of day that will work better. If that doesn’t work, keep shifting things around until you find something that does work! Keep persevering! If you are struggling with the daily bible reading plan you have chosen, find a different one, or add in a book or study a few days a week for a change of pace. Don’t let your time in the Word become stagnant.
There is so much joy and delight to be had in daily time with the Lord! Don’t continue to miss out on a deeper relationship because you are “too busy”!