Have you kept up with your annual promise to keep reading the Scriptures?
Most of us have lost our way in the middle of the year. I know my Bible reading has been deeply affected during the quarantine period. To be honest, I have lost my desire to read anything in the first three months of lockdown. If you must know, our country has the longest standing lockdown in place.
More recently, I found a quote (which I have highlighted in bold) shared on Facebook which is better understood in its context:
Brethren, a want of familiarity with the Word of God is very often the seed-plot of our doubts! Half our fears arise from neglect of the Bible. Our spirits sink for want of the heavenly food stored up in the inspired Volume.
If I constantly feed my feelings with fret and fear, I shall remain feeble and faint if I have not feasted from the fountain of facts, that is the truths laid out for me in the Word of God.
Thus, I sing, “Help my unbelief. My help must come from Thee.” Just as Piper and some saints encourage us to fight for joy; we must fight for the desire to take up and read the Scriptures, because,
It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.Matthew 4:4, KJV
I do not claim to understand your struggles, but I find that changing some aspects of a certain practice could help enliven a has-become-sluggish discipline.
Change the Bible version
If you currently read one version, try switching it up to another version. Different versions have their different purposes, and there is no one infallible Bible version. Only the autographs—original manuscripts of the Bible—are divinely inspired and inerrant, translations are not.
So if you have grown used to the ESV, perhaps try reading the KJV. If you have been reading through the NIV, for example, try to read the HCSB, for a change. If you are not familiar with the original text, you’ll find that reading different translations are helpful in providing insights to an otherwise “familiar” text of Scripture. Or better yet, get a brand new Bible for a fresh start.
Follow a Bible reading guide
For people who to try to wing everyday things and plans, following a set guide is actually helpful to get you back on track. Some people need to see what they need to do in order to function better.
Robert Murray M‘Cheyne’s Bible Reading plan is a classic among Reformed folk. Bible Gateway also offers different plans depending on how you want to go about it. The plan here is not to forget to plan.
Use a reminder
Almost everyone has a smart phone these days, and it’s quite easy to set up an alarm that reminds you to do almost any thing. Have you ever thought of putting up a daily reminder in your phone, tablet or desktop to do just that? The thing is to make Bible reading part of your schedule and to use a reminder to help keep it in mind.
Another option is the YouVersion app which aligns your Bible reading plan, provides a checklist, tells you what you’ve covered or missed, and it also prompts you with reminders. These are helpful tools that may be able to help you fulfil your Bible reading goals.
Read with a Devotional
Puritan Thomas Watson provided a wise proposition:
When you find a chillness upon your souls, and that your former heat begins to abate, ply yourselves with warm clothes, get those good books that may acquaint you with such truths as may warm and affect your hearts.
Reading the writings of sanctified saints who have meditated on the deep thoughts of God may provide warmth in our souls. Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotional may be a good place to start.
Prayer and Repentance
The things that I’ve listed above are ideas and resources to help us with our human weakness. But we are embodied souls, which means that although we train our bodies and our minds, we must remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12, KJV)
If we have done our best in minding the physical or mental weaknesses, but still find ourselves without desire to read or study the Word, perhaps it may be a call to pray and repent.
Christians must desire the blessed happiness of the Psalmist who said, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” (Ps. 119:97) But if we lost our love for God’s Word, we must repent if we continue to indulge this slothful ease. How are we supposed to fight the enemy without furnishing our spiritual armors with the sword, that is the Word of God? Thomas Watson rightly warns us,
A Christian without meditation is like a soldier without weapons, or a workman without tools.
May the Spirit rouse our slumber and have mercy on our souls. Hence, may our desire always be:
Tolle et lege!