Do you have trouble keeping a daily devotional time? Does reading the Bible get old? Do you get part-way through a Daily Bible Reading Plan, and then bail-out somewhere along the line? Here are some tips that have kept me in the Word for over two decades:
- Don’t worry about keeping a daily reading plan accurate to the date; just keep reading, even if the year-long plan takes two years or more. If you drop off for a few days, just pick it up again and continue where you were, rather than quitting altogether. Ignore dates on the reading plan if necessary! I’ve read at least a dozen different versions of the Bible clear through, but not necessarily within a year’s time.
- Write down verses that speak to you personally. I’ve used daily appointment calendars because they’re small and can hold many verses. Some days I have nothing to write down, and other days several I want to record. Because of this, I ignore the dates in the calendar and simply write out verses, overlapping days. I’ve given an example here. Note that sometimes I record a date or event beside the verse.
- I’ve also used other types of small notebooks through the years, and often have to move into a second book for a single year. When I get discouraged or worried, I grab one of the books from a past year and go for a walk. It’s great to read all the promises & messages God has given me in the past.
- These are probably some of the first things I would grab in our house if we had a fire, because they chronicle God’s work and presence in my life.
- I also read several other books along with the Bible at once, such as Wess Stafford’s Too Small to Ignore, or Amber Van Schooneveld’s Hope Lives. If I see a great quote from any of these sources, I also add them to my list of quotes. God even speaks to me through secular novels and, of course, other peoples’ blogs. When you’re listening for God to speak to you, He does. You have to be alert and have a plan for recording what He has said to you. This works best for me.
- Finally, I have a new devotional tool this year. Chris recommended on the Compassion blog that we prayerfully choose a one-word theme for the year, and watch to see how God uses it. My word for this year is “hold,” and God has already brought several verses and thoughts related to this theme. I’m recording these in a second small notebook. You can see here my Bible, notebook and Compassion’s Prayer Partner’s Calendar (I was surprised to see my own LDP student listed here on December 29)! Some of the notes I’ve recorded are: “Let us hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14), and “Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself” (Luke 2:19). Yesterday in worship services, I noticed our Pastor said we hold the elements and remember Christ, so I wrote this in my notebook when I got home. Someone also suggested we not try to carry other peoples’ problems, but hold them up in prayer. I wrote down: “We can’t hold someone else’s problems. We can hold them up in prayer,” and dated it. I also wrote that friends held and carried a paralytic to Jesus, because Mark 2 was in my daily reading. Our son is heading to Nepal for two months, and I wrote, “I can’t hold onto my children, but must let them go as God leads them.”
These are the some of the ways God speaks clearly to my heart, and as I record them they become a blessing for me in years to come. I wouldn’t miss daily devotions for the world!