“I just really don’t like reading.” So said a friend of mine recently. He is a godly man who loves the Lord and wants to go deeper in Scripture. But he was regularly frustrated, desiring to learn more, but unable to find a rhythm, model, or method that worked when it came to reading his Bible.
The problem is a common one. Reading is a crucial part of life, as it is a key way to learn and grow. For the Christ-follower, we need to live by God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:22), which can’t happen if we don’t take it in. If we want to grow in our knowledge, understanding, gifts, parenting, leadership, etc., then there is a world of resources out there to help us – many of them asking to be read.
Good reading habits are important. It is a wonderful way to grow in Christlikeness. So, what can we do to mature in this area?
1. Find a method that works for you.
I am a natural reader who loves doing it, and I could easily sit alone and read for 6 hours a day, if time allowed. That may not be you at all, and that’s OK.
Scripture says, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” (Galatians 6:4-5).
If someone else’s reading habits don’t work for you, stop trying them. You are uniquely made by God (Psalm 139:14), and there is a unique way to engage in the Bible that will work for you.
2. Make a plan and stick to it.
Like so many things, especially new habits, we need to decide to try something and then have some discipline. We may not feel like there are tangible results right off the top, just like the first time we go for a jog after a long winter, we might not feel the “joy” of exercise right away.
But with time and discipline, healthy habits get formed, and we start to see the good in what we are doing.
Harvest takes time, but it will come (Galatians 6:9). Start off with bite-sized, reasonable steps (“I’m going to read the Bible for 15 minutes every day”) and give it your all to meet that target. As that becomes normal for you, you can slowly increase that target to grow even more.
3. Find a brother or two to walk with.
At Impactus, we greatly value men walking alongside each other and supporting one another (Galatians 6:2; 1Thessalonians 5:11). Having some accountability with a Christian brother or two that you trust, who can check in on what you’re reading, what you’re learning, etc., will help motivate you towards growing in this area. Or you can read something together, or you can discuss together what you’ve been reading by yourself. No one can comprehend God’s Word entirely on their own; we all need help from others to discern and understand it.
God gave us literal and spiritual brothers for a reason, and this can be one of them.
4. Also – who said you had to read off a page?
Some of us have dyslexia and have trouble with written words. Some of us have trouble concentrating on paper. Some of us are auditory learners and take in information best by hearing and not reading. Interestingly, for most of church history, the vast majority of people couldn’t read – it was only in the 19th century that reading became a common educational activity for the masses. For most of church history, you took in Scripture by listening to someone read it, which is why the Word says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17, emphasis added) – in Paul’s day, most of the churchgoers wouldn’t have the ability to read, so they took in the Word through listening (1 Timothy 4:13). For my friend at the top of the article, we eventually realized that he took in information best through hearing it, so once he switched to an audio bible, and listened to lots of podcasts and sermons, his walk with Jesus skyrocketed to a whole new level. We live in a wonderful technological time where we have a world of listening resources at our disposal – take advantage of them!
A Prayer for Reading Scripture Well:
Father, I desire to know You better, to know Your truth, and to faithfully walk in Your will. Help me find ways to engage deeper with Your Word, and techniques that will help me to take in truth and retain it, as You give me the wisdom to live it out. May I grow more and more into Christ’s likeness, and may my reading and listening times be a place of divine encounter with You, where I am refreshed, renewed, and refilled with Your Holy Spirit. Amen.