We are a society of how tos. In our independence and drive to do more things, we are forever looking for the best way to do something, the new thing to try, the easiest way to get a job accomplished. You don't have to look far on Pinterest or YouTube to see we are obsessed with DIY.
This mentality has run over into our spiritual lives as well. For better or worse, we look at what others are doing and try to emulate their style of devotional life. Is there benefit to that? Yes, in moderation. At some point, we have to stop looking at what everyone else is doing and just start doing something ourselves! We will not know what helps us until we try it out.
The tips I'm going to share are not new with me or anything lofty and profound. These are things that have helped me and guided me on a track of consistency. There is nothing magical about these five things or nothing wrong with adding to this list. It is merely a tool to get you started on your way.
Know when you are reading. Having a consistent time is key to accomplishing your devotions. If you have the attitude of "I'll do it when I have time today," it'll be easier to slip through the cracks. Stuff happens, things come up, schedules change. If you aren't purposefully setting aside time, that time will be filled by other things. As a mom with young kids, I know it's difficult to always plan on the same schedule. It's also difficult to find long stretches of uninterrupted time. If you struggle to get away from distractions for long amounts of time, try breaking up your devotional time throughout the day. Plan to pray when you get up, read a chapter during lunch, etc. It'll keep you from getting discouraged that you only have five minutes at a time free and it will help to keep the Word fresh in your mind all day.
Know what you are reading. Have a plan for where in the Bible you will be reading each day. There are multiple plans available for you to choose from. If you sit down, randomly open your Bible, read a chapter, and call it good you will not grow spiritually and you will quickly get frustrated. The Bible needs to be taken as a whole, not as a series of disjointed verses.
Know where you are reading. I struggled with this for many years before finding the solution I use now. It might not be as important for some people but I need a consistent place to keep my Bible, pens, notebook, etc. I can also easily remove distractions from this one place so when I sit down, I know it's with the goal of studying the Bible. If you don't have a set place you can consistently read, I would recommend keeping all your Bible study tools in a basket or tray, something easy to move from place to place so you don't have to gather everything each time you read your Bible.
Know your goal. Because we are a people obsessed with deadlines and goals, it's helpful to know where we're going and what we plan to accomplish. Are you reading the New Testament in a year? Do you want to understand the attributes of God better? Are you focusing on reading two chapters a day? Without this kind of focus we can quickly and easily get lost and discouraged. At the beginning of the year, I like to choose a keyword or phrase that guides my Bible memory and focus for the year. It's not the only thing I read about but it helps to pinpoint an area I need to dwell on. I also choose a plan to read through the Bible in a year so I can mark off what I've read and see what I'm reading next.
Know your limitations. This might seem like a strange point to end on but we are usually so focused on what we want to get done we rarely stop to consider if it's even possible for us. We all have different strengths and talents and so we need different things. We have different energy levels and obstacles. Seasons of life change. So we need to step back, consider the life we have, and set realistic goals so we don't overwhelm ourselves and grow discouraged. If you aren't a morning person, don't set your alarm for a 5am wake up to read your Bible. If you have young children, don't plan to read your Bible when they are most needy (right before a meal, nap, etc). Don't set yourself up for failure by trying to incorporate every Bible tool and study idea at once. Try something, if it doesn't work try something else. You don't need to follow someone else's template to have a successful Bible time. Realize what works for you and what doesn't and don't get discouraged if your devotions look different than your friends.
What's the main takeaway I want you to get? The biggest part of having a successful Bible study time daily is to just do it. Don't get so caught up in having the right tools, the right ambiance, the right way of doing it that you never actually do it. Get some ideas, pray for guidance, and dig in!
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash