Originally published Wednesday, 14 March 2012.
If your doctor prescribed medication to you, you wouldn’t expect to get better unless you actually took the prescription. Reading the Bible is kind of like a heavenly prescription! God’s Word changes our life, directs our paths, gives us wisdom for hard times, encourages our hearts when we are down, satisfies the weary places within us and much more. But we have to swallow it if we want it to work!
Getting into a habit of reading Scripture is one of the most foundational aspects to living in the fullness Christ called us to. And yet, being in a habit of just “doing your time” really isn’t much better than not reading the Word. We have to genuinely open our hearts, expectations and lives to let God change us, direct us, encourage us and take away the old to give us the new.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing some practical tools to grow your devotional life in Scripture reading, prayer, fasting and worship. Hopefully we will all be encouraged to dig deeper, live more faithfully and grow in our devotion to our Lord!
How to read Scripture as a daily practice:
1. Before you begin always ask the Lord to teach you, open your heart, convict you and lead you.
The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14:26 NAS
2. Remember that you don’t need to be legalistic about the time you implement your Scripture reading. Jesus was up really early some days and other days He was up late seeking the Lord. A heart of devotion seeks God’s face every hour of the day, so don’t switch off your “seeking” heart when you are done with your devotions and don’t feel like you have to get up at five every morning to read Scripture. Read it when you need it, when you are at your best, whenever you can make the time!
3. On the legalism thought... for those of you who are new parents and barely getting sleep or in a phase of life where you are just simply hanging on for dear life - don’t beat yourself over the head for not being able to maintain a schedule or lengthy prayer and reading time. While I truly believe we have been wired to seek relationship with God and that relationship requires time, effort, focus and our undivided love, God can see your heart! So if you are seeking Him as best as you can, that is all He wants! Try posting Scripture through the house, placing a small Bible in places where you might be able to steal a few minutes during the day... we’ll have more on devotions during stressful seasons in a post later down the road!
4. Now for a few ideas! Try doing any of these simple things to develop a daily practice of Scripture reading:
- Read one Proverb every day - there’s 31 proverbs, so you’ll get through the whole book in a month!
- Read five Psalms a day - If you read five a day (except for the day you hit Psalm 119 and just read that really long one for the day) you’ll get through that book in a month as well. My husband regularly reads a proverb and five psalms each day. It has been said that Proverbs is the mind of God (it’s a book of wisdom) and Psalms is like the heart of God. So constantly re-reading those two books month after month keeps your feet close to His path!
Underlining is a favorite technique of mine :) I have a few different colored pencils in my Bible cover. Each color is for a certain topic of interest:
- Blue is for the character traits of God.
- Green is words that challenge my walk or are good to pray over people - words to grow on
- Purple is for verses about faith
- Yellow is for the promises of God
- Pink is for two topics - how God sees me and verses about women.
When I first started reading Scripture it was sometimes hard to make sense of the whole passage. But in the end, I could always find something to chew on that fit one of those above topics. It is also really great when you need a Scriptural promise or a passage to remind yourself of God’s character because your Bible is all color coded :)
- Try reading through the Bible in a year. The women who have displayed the most encouraging, challenging lives of faith to me were always the ones who read through the whole Bible. It is too easy to read just the books we like, the ones we understand and are easy for us. The books with genealogies are tedious, the law has some weird stuff in there, the historical references are obscure. Yeah, I know. But read the whole thing! The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting. Psalm 119:160 NAS It’s in reading the sum of His word that we will find the truth that sets us free - not in just picking through the stuff we like!
- Try new translations! I know this can be a dicey one because some of the translations out there are not translations, but paraphrases that take significant liberties with the text and even project certain agendas into their work, but if you are wise and discerning in your choices, a new translation can throw freshness into your reading. I always study from the New American Standard. But for devotional reading, I enjoy the ESV, NLT, Amplified and a few others.
follow Motl Ministries on facebook or twitter!
Looking for more encouragement in your walk with God? Check out Walking with Jesus 101: One Hundred and One Days of Devotionals to Strengthen your Walk with God Most of us have wished for a Cinderella moment when we could step into a new pair of shoes and in the blink of an eye have our lives transformed. Or, perhaps like Dorothy, we wish we could close our eyes, click our heels and find ourselves instantly transported away from the adventure we accidentally got dropped into. While it might not come from new shoes or heel clicking, God knows our need for a changed life and fresh start! Discover the life transformation that happens when you say "Yes" to God and step into His fullness. Walking with Jesus 101 is a collection of devotionals journeying through the Scriptures that point our feet to God's pathway for living. What walk of obedience, leap of faith or stand of endurance might God be calling you to? He has good things stored up for His children who eagerly seek His highway for living!