Back to the Basics

If you’re like me, routine is your friend. Self discipline is easier when there is a set routine you follow, because then things become a habit instead of a daily uphill battle.

My friends and I often talk about how we completely get out of the habit of reading our Bibles daily during holiday. And then it’s hard to get back into the habit, and you feel guilty, and you project feeling guilty on God, as if He’s standing there with a whip ready to smite you with whippy lightning, which isn’t true. The ideal is to always keep the habit, but we’re human and things happen. If you’re having trouble getting back into the habit of daily reading or if you want to start doing it, here are some things that might help you.

20140114-082416.jpg1. First, forget the past. It’s a new start. Lamentations 3:22-23 says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (ESV, italics added).
2. Keep it simple. Find a reading program that will get you through the whole Bible, but you don’t have to use one that makes you read 5 chapters a day. I like to use one that has a bit from the Old Testament, a bit from the New Testament, and either Psalms or Proverbs every day. It’s not a lot and it gives you a good balance. But do what works for you! There are many different programs that a simple Google search will bring up for you.20140114-082430.jpg

 

3. Create a habit. The best way to do this and to make it as easy as possible for you to consistently read your Bible every day is to pick a time and a place and stick to it. Our brains are wired to associate things. For example, I get up in the morning, make coffee, get back in bed with my coffee, and read my Bible while I drink it. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and it’s ingrained in my brain that coffee + morning = Bible and journaling.
20140114-082439.jpg4. If it will help you, journal about what you’ve read. Reading the Bible can become automatic and somewhat brainless, but jotting down a few brief notes about the passage helps you to remember what you’ve read, and to relate it to something in your own life. Note: Bible reading shouldn’t become a “what’s in it for me” exercise because the point is first and foremost to get to know the character of God and grow a deeper relationship with Him, but we should also try and apply what is in the Bible when possible.
5. Don’t get discouraged! It takes a long time to create a habit, and it doesn’t help to be a perfectionist about it, because all that brings is guilt and that’s not good. If you miss a day, don’t stress about it, just carry on. His mercies are new every morning.
6. Lastly, ask friends for help. It helps to have an accountability partner who is trying to do the same thing or is already in the habit of daily Bible reading. You can encourage each other to keep going and pick each other up when you fall.

I hope this helps some of you…I’m in the same boat at the moment and it’s never easy, but it’s beyond worth it.

6 thoughts on “Back to the Basics”

  1. I think your advice is excellent. I do something very similar, expanding the routine to include a reading from a religious tradition other than my own. In this way, I’ve read the Gita, the Tao, the Quran and the Dhammapada and found beauty and insight in all of them. I generally conclude with a bit of Thomas Γ‘ Kempis or Thomas Merton.

    On an unrelated subject: I am about to undertake a pilgrimage on the camino de Santiago. When I go on these long walks, I ask friends to send me, in advance, a sealed note or two. I carry these and open one or two a day, or at low moments. Most are spiritual in character, but they can be anything the writer chooses. Could I impose on you for one or two?

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  2. A good read, thank you. I have also struggled with how my spiritual disciplines took a knock during he Christmas holidays and concluded that I also need a holiday routine to ensure that I keep up the spiritual disciplines. A more relaxed routine, but a routine. Contrary to what some folk believe, I don’t find a routine restrictive; on the contrary, it seems to provide the freedom to do the things that are important to me, without time slipping away uselessly.

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