By Amy Hickman
2024 is here! Do you desire to deepen your enjoyment of God and your walk with Him? For some, the start of the year is a good time to begin a new plan for being in God’s Word. But often we have good intentions and fall by the wayside after a month or two.
Here are some tips to help you in your endeavors to enjoy God’s Word more in 2024. Not into New Year’s resolutions? That’s okay. You can tuck away this information for a different time of the year when you are struggling to stay consistent in God’s Word.
WHY SHOULD I READ GOD'S WORD?
God has graciously chosen to reveal himself to us through his written Word. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 (quoting Deuteronomy 8:3), “Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” God’s Word is like bread that we need daily. We can’t live without! It is sweet, precious, revives the soul, and is life changing. As a well-known Bible teacher frequently says, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.” If you want to love and enjoy God, it takes time getting to know him and his character. Equally, we don’t read our Bibles just to fill our minds with knowledge and keep it to ourselves. We read for understanding with the goal to love God more and more, to become more like him, and share him with others.
WHY HAVE A PLAN?
If you get behind, just start on the current date and keep going. God is gracious no matter what your reading plan progress might be. Find an accountability partner and a reading plan that works for you. There are resources out there that can help make your time in God’s Word more engaging and enjoyable. See a list of excellent Bible study resources.
WILL READING GOD'S WORD HELP ME EARN GOD'S APPROVAL?
Our reading time is not about earning God’s favor or approval. God only approves of us through the completed work of Jesus Christ. There is no "work" we can do to make God more pleased with us. The goal is to get to know our wonderful God more and more! Pastor Cary Schmidt says: “The discipline of reading every day is not an end to itself. The continued commitment to consistency over many years is where the Word of God has its greatest impact.”
WHAT IF I DON'T FEEL LIKE READING?
We all find ourselves from time-to-time struggling to read God’s Word. We aren’t necessarily after spiritual highs every time we engage God’s Word. Trillia Newbell, author of “Fifty-Two Weeks In The Word” says: “If you approach the Word with the mindset that if you don’t feel something, then you aren’t getting anything from it, you won’t read it. Once you change the focus from yourself to God, it’s not only proper but it’s also freeing. You will need to remind yourself of this truth when you get into the depths of Leviticus or begin reading all of the names in 1 Chronicles. We find joy in Scripture, not because it makes us feel good but because it leads us to the One who spoke it into existence.”
HOW CAN I BECOME MORE CONSISTENT IN READING GOD'S WORD?
A second highly successful way to help build consistency is to have an accountability partner. It can be as simple as texting each other a favorite verse you read each day. Knowing that someone is expecting a text from you keeps you motivated. At the end of this article, you will find a link to a signup page to find other people at Westside interested in a reading accountability partner.
WHAT IF I STRUGGLE WITH BEING DISTRACTED WHEN READING GOD'S WORD?
Ask God to help you not be distracted. As you sit down to read, pray and ask him to remove distractions. Stop and pray again if it’s happening during your reading.
- Try not to read the Bible on your phone. Our phones are designed to distract. God’s Word is valuable enough to find a different mode of reading if you are finding yourself distracted by your phone.
- Along those lines, leave your phone in another room as you spend time alone with God. It will be still there when you are finished!
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER TIPS TO HELP ME STAY ENGAGED WITH GOD'S WORD?
Designate a place that is "your spot" for spending time with God. Find a place that will be ideal for concentration and that can be special. In other words, the spot that you sit and watch Netflix at night might not be the best choice. Do you like being out in nature or in a coffee shop? Pick a place that helps you focus and go to this place at the same time as often as you can.
- This might be more for the ladies - Andrea Otto suggests creating a pleasing environment so it’s something you look forward to. Light a candle, pour a cup of tea, maybe sit out on the front porch with a cozy blanket. If you have little ones climbing all over you, this is okay, too, and is a great opportunity to model for them the value you place on spending time with God in His Word, even in this busy season of life.
- If you’re expecting to hear from God, be ready to write it down. Don’t just say you’ll “remember it.” The weakest ink is better than the best memory. Writing down your thoughts about different Bible verses helps you to think deeply about what they mean. It forces you to slow down as you read the Bible and wrestle with how God is speaking to you. Keeping a journal also provides you with a record of God’s faithfulness. In years to come, you can look back on what you’ve written; see different ways that God spoke to you, convicted you, encouraged you, and challenged you. This is a new discipline that I have been trying out and am finding really impactful.
- Bible reading is not just for one segment of your day. It is our life! (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Psalm 119:97) Here are some suggestions from Andrea Otto: Listen to worship music throughout the day, listen to sermons and podcasts that point you to Jesus, place post-its with a Bible verse on your mirror or cabinet, listen to an audio Bible app while you drive or shower, memorize Scripture with a friend, put Scripture on your walls, phone and computer wallpaper.
If you have gotten this far in the article, congratulations! Hopefully, you have discovered a few ways you can keep your time with the Lord fresh and enjoyable. Pray and ask God to continue to grow this desire in you. It’s exciting to think how your passion and love for Him can spread in another year from now!
Click here to find an assortment of Bible reading plans to fit your time commitment.
Click here to go to a reading plan generator that you can completely customize to fit your desires, starting on any date of the year. It is even available in Spanish and Hindi.
Click here for a list of a few resources that can help you with your study of the Bible.