Yesterday I failed and my long-time streak of reading the Bible everyday was over. Ouch!
Everyday (I guess I should say almost everyday?) I read at least one proverb, five psalms, and a few chapters from one of the gospels (Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark). When I do this every single day, in one month I can read all 150 psalms, the 31 proverbs, and all of the gospels. I have done this for a long time now and it has become a foundational part of my spiritual disciplines. I first heard of this fantastic practice from a biography on Billy Graham:
Every day he reads five Psalms, covering the psalter in a month, and one chapter of Proverbs, the book that “shows us how to relate our own lives to our fellow men.” He reads through a Gospel each week, using commentaries and modern translations, and constantly returns to the Acts of the Apostles. He annotates throughout the Bible. “Sometimes His word makes such an impact on me that I have to put the Bible down and walk around for a few moments to catch my breath.”Billy Graham, by John Pollock
But keeping up with this commitment has been difficult, almost every day there are many other treats that I am drawn to in the morning.
Some of my morning temptations are:
- My phone (texts and calls)
- Twitter and Linkedin
- Email and Slack
- Feedly feeder app
- Next Door neighborhood site
- And to be frank, just sitting on the couch
The only way I have been able to avoid these intoxicating pulls and instead sit down and read my Bible is by creating an environment that supports my primary goal logically, before my subconscious desire for these reactive medias takes over.
- I know exactly what I am going to read each morning and it is small and obtainable
- I have a little nook (a bench in the living room) that I goto first each morning with my glass of water. In this nook is my Bible, post it notes with Scriptures and words of encouragement, a book of Proverbs and Psalms, and other things that create a positive Bible reading environment.
- I keep my phone on do not disturb in the other room overnight. Not in the bedroom and in the furthest place possible from where I wakeup and where my Bible reading nook is.
- My laptop is closed and also in the furthest place possible in my home.
- I don’t have Twitter or Linkedin on my phone and my email is setup on WiFi access only… I keep WiFi off. So in case I do initially fail (which I often do) and grab my phone there is some extra effort required to get into most of these distractors. And I have to walk right past my nook to turn the WiFi on. Yes, I have literally booby trapped my morning to keep me on target!
Most mornings I am successful because of this conscious environment I have created.
I get a glass of water and immediately go sit in my nook. Go directly to the nook, do not pass go and do not collect $200. Once I am there I sometimes still put off opening the Bible, so as I sip on my water I just grab my Bible and put it in my lap and flip it open to my daily reading. I don’t even say to myself, “Hey! You have to read this!” I just open it up and put it in my lap. I am still groggy and getting my bearings, but I am sitting there in my nook, with a fresh glass of water and a Bible open in my lap. I know what I need to read, it is right in front of me, and I have no other distractions. So what do I do?
Naturally, I usually read! And once I start I keep reading. My mind stops fighting me and it says, “Okay I guess we are going for it!” It stops tantalizing me with all of the other things I could be doing that take zero effort and finally lets me read in peace.
The streak is maintained and I am creating a morning ritual of getting into the Word and allowing myself to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to hear the Word of God. Since I’ve been working on this process, I hardly ever miss a day, I am reading more of the Bible than I ever before, and the verses are actually sticking with me and I am able to carry them with me throughout the day.
Once in a while I am completely filled, the words I am reading speak to me and I can feel God’s presence. These days are unbelievable and are worth all this effort. But even the days this doesn’t happen and I am just reading and not feeling much of anything, I still benefit. Because I am putting in work and creating an environment and space to build on my relationship with the Lord. I am taming the beast within and committing to a strong Spiritual discipline first thing every day. I have found this to be a much more powerful way to start the day than “making my bed” as Admiral McRaven says. I usually end up making my bed much later after I’ve finished my reading and prayer time, drank my coffee, and spent some time writing.
How are you doing on your daily Bible reading habit?
You must have one and you can’t let anything get in the way of it. What keeps you from having one? How can you be creative and prevent these other habits from stopping you from reading the Bible? If it is truly important to you (and I think it should be) then you can stop at nothing to create an environment that makes you successful.You will probably still fail some days, but these days will be few and far between and if you are like me the guilt of missing a day will definitely encourage you to get back with it the next.
And as my former pastor Dr. Wooten famously says you must, “Read ye Bible!”
Let me know in the comments below what has kept you from having a daily reading habit.