Every January we talk about developing better habits in the coming year. Goals typically center around fitness, finances, or family. While many of these goals may have been set before, there’s something about a new year that renews our optimism. But the best habit you can develop in the coming year isn’t to be better physically or fiscally fit. The most important habit for 2020 is daily Bible study because this one habit affects your entire life. Like other healthy habits, consistent Bible study doesn’t happen by just trying to do better. You need a purpose, a plan, and a place.
Recognize the Purpose
We work at developing good habits because they serve a needed purpose. For many believers, reading the Bible is just part of their checklist. They quickly read a verse or two because they know they should; or because they’re afraid God won’t bless them if they don’t. While obedience is important, guilt and fear are poor purposes. Since loving the Lord is our primary purpose in life (Matthew 22:37-38), then knowing Him better should be our primary purpose for reading His Word.
Yes, Scripture offers guidance, comfort, and conviction; but all of those things come through greater knowledge of its Author. Understanding the character of God affects the other habits we develop. Time in His presence impacts how we handle our finances, how we treat our bodies, and how we approach relationships. A genuine desire to know the Lord on a deeper level is vital to a consistent quiet time.
Decide on a Plan
A common obstacle to daily Bible study is deciding where to start. There are a number of reading plans, study guides, and devotionals to help – both in print and online. If you have a difficult time choosing one, then ask your pastor or another mature believer what they use. Whatever you pick, make sure you’re actually reading the Bible and not just what someone else says about it. You’ll get far more from any devotion by reading the key verse in context. Of course, you can’t go wrong by just reading through a book of the Bible, making note of what you learn. What does the passage say about God? What do you learn about yourself? Is there a warning you need to heed or an example you should follow?
Pick a Time and Place
People who reach their physical fitness goals typically have a set time and place to work out. It just becomes part of their daily routine. Bible study is no different. You can develop the habit by setting aside just ten minutes as part of your daily routine. Many people are more consistent by doing it early in the day, before the demands of life interrupt. But if you’re not a morning person, then having your quiet time with your first cup of coffee might not sound inviting. The time of day doesn’t really matter. Choose a time when you’re least likely to be interrupted.
Picking a consistent place is also key. Sitting in that place, at the set-aside time, helps you focus on your purpose. And just as it’s important for a gym to be well-equipped, your place should be well-stocked. While the only essential element is a Bible, having other things nearby can be helpful. For instance, keep your study plan and prayer journal close at hand; as well as a pen and a highlighter. Having a small Bible dictionary or commentary within arm’s reach means you’re more likely to look up something that you don’t quite understand.
The most important habit for 2020 is to develop a consistent time in God’s Word. If you’ve struggled in the past, don’t give up. Try again. This time, focus on the primary purpose for reading the Bible – to know the Lord better in order to walk with Him daily. Decide on a plan, set aside a time, and pick a place. In a year’s time you’ll be amazed at the effect this new habit has on every other aspect of your life.