By Mark Altrogge @http://blazingcenter.blogspot.com
Are you discouraged with your Bible reading? Find it hard to be consistent? Want to get more out of the Word? Here are a few tips that have helped me to be more consistent and enjoy my devotions more over the years.
1. Prepare the night before
Every night before going to bed, I grind some coffee, put a filter in my Aeropress coffee maker, put my coffee cup on the counter and fill my Hot Shot with water, so all I need to do is push a button to heat the water for my morning cup o’ joe. I make sure everything I need – Bible, marker, journal, Kleenex - is on the stand next to the couch in the den. This saves me having to scramble around wasting time in the morning and I can get reading more quickly.
I usually spend a couple minutes praying before I read. I thank my Father for his love and the gift of sleep, and for protecting my family and me during the night. I also thank him for his gracious invitation for me to enter boldly into his presence through the merits and blood of Jesus. Then I often pray John Piper’s I-O-U'S: “Incline my heart to your testimonies”, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law,” “Unite my heart to fear your name,” and “Satisfy me with your love."
3. Same time, same place every day.
Find your best time, when you can concentrate and have the least number of distractions. For me, it’s first thing in the morning. The house is quiet and no one else is up. If I start in on projects or reading the news, I never get to reading the Bible. In the evening I’m too distracted and tired. For some, evening is their best time. The important thing is to find a time when you are least distracted and can concentrate.
I read in the same place every day. As I said earlier, I keep my Bible, marker, journal and prayer notebook on the end-table next to the couch in the den. That way I don’t have to waste time searching through the house for things before I read.
4. Keep track of what you read
After reading, in the back of my journal I write the day, date and the passage I read. That way I don’t have to try to remember where I left off the day before. You can use a bookmark as long as it doesn’t fall out and you lose your place.
5. Write in your Bible
Don’t hesitate to underline, write in the margins, or circle words. Underlining and writing helps us concentrate more on what we’re reading. My favorite marker is a light blue Sanford China Marker. You can underline lightly or darker and it never bleeds through the page.
6. Read consecutively
Don’t skip around or play Bible Roulette. Finish one book before going to another. One way to consistently read through the Bible is to read through Matthew, then Genesis. Then Mark, then Exodus and so on. If you are keeping track of what you’ve read, you’ll eventually work through the whole Bible. Nothing is more discouraging than picking up the Bible and reading at random every day.
7. Use a journal
I’ve used journals for years in my devotions. I like Moleskine lined journals. As you read, write down any verses that stand out to you or any thoughts you have about the passage. Writing slows you down and helps you focus. I usually try to look for one key verse or passage that stands out to me from that day’s reading to record in my journal.
8. Respond to what you’ve read
After recording one key verse or passage in my journal, I usually write a prayer in response. This prayer will sometimes be worship and praise to God for the truth I’ve just read about him or it may be supplication for him to change me to conform with his word. I keep the prayer to one, maybe two pages at the most. It takes me about ten minutes and propels me into my prayer time.
Whether you use these approaches or you have your own, try to build consistent habits of reading the Bible. There’s no better way to fellowship with Jesus and delight in him.