My life changed on May 26, 2008.
It was the day I was assigned to be an intern (vicar) of a congregation in rural Wisconsin. I knew serving a church full time would be a great experience, but I didn’t know that it would transform me so deeply, affecting me to this day.
When I first met my mentor/pastor/boss, Nate Strutz, he greeted me with three abrupt questions:
I was so caught off guard that all I could do was grunt out “yes” to each question.
He quickly responded with a smile, “Then we’ll get along just fine.”
He handed me two sheets of paper—a list of all the chapters in the Bible.
Then he said, “Ben, this is a Bible reading plan. You will begin to follow this plan on July 1. I will be reading the same schedule as you. And I will hold you accountable to this habit.” And he did.
Pastor Strutz challenged me to start the habit of daily Bible reading. He supported and encouraged me along the way. And because of this one simple conversation, I have read my Bible every day for the past ten years (with only a handful of exceptions).
What Pastor Strutz did for me, I now want to pass on to you.
I want to challenge you to start the habit of daily Bible reading.
Although this is one of the most beneficial habits you could start, it might just be one of the most difficult. The Bible is a big book, 66 books actually. It is an ancient work of art, written by literary geniuses who lived in a much different culture than ours.
So before you dive in, here are 7 tips for reading your Bible.
1. Take a Bible information class.
When you start reading, you will have loads of questions immediately. That’s why I encourage people to go to a church that offers a Bible information course. In this class, you will learn answers to some of the following questions:
2. Read a children’s Bible.
After taking a Bible information class, you might not be ready to jump into Scripture. Step two might be reading a children’s Bible. My favorite children’s Bible is The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.
3. Begin and end Bible reading with prayer.
God speaks to you through the Scriptures. If God is talking to you, then it is only natural you talk back to him. Pray God gives you insight into his Word. Pray God shows you your sin and, most of all, shows you his love. Pray God would transform you.
4. Make use of good study tools.
My favorite Bible study tool is The Bible Project. The Bible Project is a website with hundreds of short videos that outline every book of the Bible and explain major themes of Scripture. I highly recommend it! You might also want to check out the hundreds of Grace Talks videos available on YouTube and on the Grace Talks website. These short video devotions help explain how to put God’s Word into practice in your life.
5. Follow a plan.
When Pastor Strutz challenged me, he gave me a clear plan to read three chapters of the Bible a day. Each day I would cross off the chapters and chart my progress. There are many different reading plans on line. Find one that works for you.
6. Establish a routine.
According to Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit, to establish a new habit, we need a trigger, a routine, and a reward. I found this to be true with the habit of Bible reading. For me the trigger is waking up and walking down to the basement. My routine is sitting in a quiet room in a soft chair with an open Bible. And my reward after reading is a hot cup of coffee.
If you want your Bible-reading habit to stick for the long haul, set a trigger (or cue), follow a routine, and give yourself a reward.
7. Partner with others.
I’ve tried to start many good habits. But only Bible reading has truly stuck. Why? Because I had accountability to Pastor Strutz. Real, lasting change seems to always happen in a community, even if it’s just between two people, just ask Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous.
As you begin to read the Bible, find at least one other person who will partner with you as you begin this journey.
Bible reading is hard.
It takes sacrifice.
But it is worth it.
It’s God’s personal message to you.
I want to challenge you to read the Bible, just like my pastor challenged me.
Who knows? You might just look back ten years from now and remember this moment as the day your life changed for the good.
Pastor Ben Sadler has served as a full-time pastor since 2010. He began his ministry serving a Spanish-speaking congregation in Florida. Since March 2014, he has served at Goodview Trinity Church in Minnesota. He is married to Emily, and they have three children. Ben loves to spend time with his family, ride his road bike, read, write, and preach.
For more encouragement from Pastor Sadler and other Time of Grace writers, sign up here to receive email notifications of new blog posts