I don’t know any Christian man who has thrived spiritually and relationally without having the spiritual discipline of daily private Bible reading and prayer in place. It’s just not going to happen. I know a number of Christian men who have fallen into serious sin and every single one of them had stopped private Bible reading and prayer. So I want to help you get into the habit of daily Bible reading.
What doesn’t work
Here’s what doesn’t work:
Inconsistent Bible reading: Doing it some days but not others.
Emergency Bible reading: Doing it only when there’s some pressing need or when a sermon has convicted you.
Mechanical Bible reading: I’m talking about mere habit, just a routine without engaging heart or mind.
Impossible Bible reading: Better to do a little every day than aim too high, fail, and then give up.
Distracted Bible reading: Checking email, texts, news before or during devotions is disastrous for focus and for presenting a clean mind for God to write on.
What does Work
Here’s what does work:
Start reading: Yes, you’ve messed up many times but you’ve got to start again. So start today.
Prioritize reading: Bible before smartphone. Turn off your phone, computer, and email.
Routine reading: Do it every day. Same time, same place, every day. No internal debates or arguments.
Short reading: Read for five minutes. Then in a week or so, increase it by another five minutes. Aim to get to somewhere between 15-30 mins a day.
Consecutive reading: Read one book through. Maybe start with a Gospel and read through it consecutively, picking up each day where you left off previously.
Varied reading: Once you finish a New Testament book, start an Old Testament book and vice versa and so on.
Prayerful reading: Ask God for help, for light, for his teaching, for help to remember.
Concentrated reading: Do this all with intensity and drive. This is not a time for slothful half-heartedness.
Accountable reading: Ask a friend to keep you accountable, to regularly ask you how it’s going.
Pray for the Lord to help you understand the Bible but if you’re really stuck, something like Ligonier’s or Crossway’s Study Bible has enough to push you on without overwhelming you with lengthy commentary.
Action: Invest in a Bible.
Daily Bible reading is the bedrock of Christian character. There is no substitute. There is no way to Christian manhood without it. So why don’t you invest in a really nice Bible. Get a high quality one you can treasure and mark and get used to the geography of it. It will be a wonderful friend, companion, and historical record of God’s communion with you.
Write out one verse or part of a verse from what read each day. Stick it in your wallet or in your pocket and try to memorize it or meditate upon it at various points throughout the day.
Real Men read the Bible.
1. What have been your greatest challenges in the past to building the habit of daily Bible reading and what can you do to overcome them? What are the greatest obstacles to it in the present and the immediate future and what can you do to succeed?
2. Write a do-able plan for reading the Bible over the next week. Include: (1) the Bible book you will start reading, (2) the number of verses you will read each day, (3) when you will read each day, and (4) how long you will read.
3. Share your plan with another Christian friend or family member and ask them to keep you accountable. Send them your plan, and ask them to contact you at the end of next week to ask you about how it went.