Daily Walk

How to Stick with Your Bible Reading Resolution

man alone in dark library reading a book with the words how to stick with your bible reading resolution on it

Establishing new habits is difficult.

It is that time of year where we are thinking about new habits. It’s no secret that starting a new behavior is a lot easier than sustaining it as a new habit. Take exercise, for instance. I’m not sure how many times I’ve started some new commitment to get back in shape. I’ve done all kinds of things to convince myself that it will stick this time. Things like buy new equipment. Download a new app. Read advice from experts. Sign-up for a new membership. It doesn’t take much to immediately go all in.

At least for a while.

And then the zeal begins to fade. Consistency declines. Excuses begin. Equipment gathers dust. Memberships are unused. Apps are unopened. Before long the new habit becomes nothing more than another failed attempt at change.

Sound familiar? I suspect it does to many of us.

Unfortunately, developing a new habit for Bible reading is not immune to the same sad roller coaster of ups and downs or starts and stops. For many of us, it happens every January. The new year seems like a good time to start a “read through the Bible in a year” plan. But by the time the Israelites are wandering in the wilderness, many of us lose interest, get busy, or are simply too distracted.

The hard reality is that many people who start a new Bible reading journey won’t stick with it. What would it take to turn our commitment to read the Bible into something more than just another forgotten resolution? How do we get over the hump of moving this journey from a desire into a lasting habit?

What follows are four suggestions that may just help your new Bible reading resolution stick this year.

Don’t go at it alone.

Community is a powerful thing, especially in developing new behaviors. The fitness industry has certainly realized this. There are apps where you can share your workouts and your progress to get the encouragement from your network. Gyms have successfully built themselves around a community of people enduring the pain of the workout together. Even exercise equipment manufacturers have tapped into the power of community through connecting users’ online experiences as people exercise from their home.

While Bible reading is often thought about as an individual discipline, what if we leveraged the power of community to help us stick with our Bible reading resolution this year?

This could be as simple as finding a few friends to follow along on the same reading plan, getting together weekly to discuss what you have read, or even sending a quick text message for accountability—these things and more invite others to help make Bible-reading a habit that sticks.

We know there is power in community to do hard things. Applying that principle to your Bible reading may just be the most helpful thing to build consistency this year.

Read Like a Marathon, Not a Sprint.

The Bible is a big book. It will vary based on the translation you are reading, but there are approximately 750,000 words in the Bible. By contrast, the average novel may only be between 60,000-90,000 words. Reading the Bible is a far bigger undertaking than breezing through your favorite fiction author. While you can read through the entire Bible in a year by just reading about 15 minutes a day, it is a big commitment to read the entire Bible.

I’m not much of a runner these days, but in my younger years I ran quite a bit. I loved running longer races; I was not fast in short distances. Running a marathon is completely different than running a sprint.

Perhaps it is helpful to think about reading the Bible more like running a marathon than a 100- yard dash. This means that a slow, consistent pace may very helpful—especially as you are beginning a new Bible-reading resolution.

It is okay to start small. Get a Bible reading schedule that will serve as a guide to read 15-20 minutes a day. Set a manageable goal as you get started so you are more likely to build on your success rather than get frustrated because you couldn’t keep up the pace.

Mix It Up

When I think about failed attempts to start a new exercise routine in my own life, there is another problem that has plagued me: I get bored. For instance, after a few days or weeks of running, especially if it is the same route over and over, I get tired of the monotony of it. I have found that this can be true of Bible reading as well. Especially if we are following a Bible reading plan, our reading can become something of a mundane task that we feel obligated to just get done every day rather than to experience the joy and wonder of reading God’s Word. If you are starting to feel stuck by the repetition of reading the Bible, then why not change up how you are experiencing the Bible?

There are great (and free) ways to listen to the Bible, such as Walk Thru the Bible’s Daily Walk Podcast.  

Read the Bible with your family or with friends by taking turns reading a chapter aloud to each other. If you are in the portion of the reading plan where you are reading some of the more challenging parts of the Old Testament, like Leviticus or Numbers, simply take a break and read the Psalms or one of the Gospels for a few days.

There is no magic formula or prescribed methodology that is required for reading the Bible. If you find yourself getting stuck, mix things up to do something to stay consistent and faithful in your Bible reading resolution.

Have a Plan to Get Back on Track.

Depending on what research you read, anywhere from 80-95% of people will fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions, usually by February! It is amazing that we keep making those resolutions—sometimes the same ones, year after year—knowing we probably won’t keep them.

There is no reason to think that resolutions are kept longer simply because they are spiritual ones, like reading the Bible. Sadly, most people who decide to read the Bible in the new year won’t make it all the way through. And many won’t make it very far.

The reasons are varied. For some, reading some of the books in the Old Testament can get confusing and overwhelming. Others find that their schedules get busy and Bible reading isn’t a priority. Sometimes our schedules change and the time we planned to do our Bible reading gets overrun with work obligations, kids’ activities, or other commitments.

I’ve heard Bible reading advice that suggests we should find the same time every day to read our Bibles. If your schedule is anything like mine, it is nearly impossible to find a time that works every day because each day’s schedule can be quite different.

There are a lot of things that have the potential to interrupt your Bible reading and get you off ttrack. And unfortunately, once we fall off track it is hard—sometimes very hard—to get started again.

What can we do if find ourselves falling behind on our new Bible reading commitment? Maybe it sounds too simple, but simply jump back in there. If you missed a few days in your Bible reading plan, you can make it up over time. Ask someone to help hold you accountable to getting started again. On your commute, listen to an audio Bible for some of the days you missed to help you get caught up. And just know that you are in good company with lots of people who are facing the same struggles.

Bottom line: just get going again.

A Hope for You

Your decision to read the Bible in 2024 may have the biggest impact on your life this year. The Bible is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It is God’s Word to you to help transform you into the person God desires you to be. Reading the Bible will change you this. year … and in the coming years.

My hope for you is that you experience the joy and power of God’s Word in your life this year. If you are already struggling to be consistent, then I hope you will keep at it. And if you haven’t started, know that it is never too late to get going!

***
Michael Gunnin
Executive VP; Chief Growth Officer

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