Drifting. Some call it “inconsistency.” Some call it “a dry season.” I call it “drifting.” You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We’re in this together.
After 20+ years of helping people enjoy their Bible reading, I’ve learned a few things about drifting. Many I have learned at times when I’m pulling out of a time of drifting. These next four posts are entirely about avoiding the drift. Here’s where we’re headed…
- Part 1: The Intangibles (It all starts in your noggin.)
- Part 2: The Schedule (There are many options.)
- Part 3: The Tools (After the “why” and the “when” you’ve got to know the “what” of making it happen.)
- Part 4: The Process (Again…Lots of options. After all, God didn’t wire us all the same.)
Have you ever tried to change a habit? Maybe it has to do with healthy eating, more exercise, or less TV watching. In any of these, the idea of “drifting” has probably shown up. For most people, they sometimes eat healthily, sometimes exercise consistently, or sometimes replace TV watching with something more productive.
Sometimes. And other times…we drift.
If you talk to people who are where you want to be in these areas – or in Bible reading – they will inevitably share some “intangibles.” Necessary elements that aren’t as easy to quantify as a day-by-day eating plan, a from-the-couch-to-the-marathon exercise program, or a list of way-better-than-TV hobbies and activities.
Let’s look at four of these intangibles.
It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just make a decision. Of course, making a decision isn’t the only intangible. It won’t get you where you want to be on its own.
That said, if you want to avoid the drift in your Bible reading, you need to make a decision. It’s the starting point. It’s the first step.
It’s not the only step. But you need to take it. Without a decision, you will forever be in a constant battle with The Drift.
Your decision needs to be worded in a way that means something to you. Here are a few ideas to get you started…
- I will spend some time with God – in silence, reading His Word, and prayer – before I eat anything each day.
- If I haven’t spent time with God before getting in the car, the radio will stay off.
- I will not check any social media until I have spent time with God, reading and praying.
- I will take my lunch break three times per week and spend it alone with God and His Word.
- I will turn off my phone and the TV an hour before I go to bed so I can sit, read, pray, and think.
What’s your decision? Got it? Good.
I have heard variations of this since high school…
It takes six weeks to break a habit and six weeks to establish one.”
While the timeframes may differ slightly, the takeaway is clear: If you’re not willing to commit at least 12 weeks to form a habit, your chance of success is almost zilch.
- Look at today’s date.
- Now, mark the date on your calendar 12 weeks from today.
- Commit to gutting it out until then.
Hopefully, not every day will feel like you’re gutting it out. But if you’re trying to develop a new habit and you think simply “deciding” will result in “easy,” you’re fooling yourself. Some days you will want to read, sit, and pray. Other days you won’t.
Those are the days you’ll need to remember your commitment.
Write it down.
Print it out.
Set a daily reminder in your calendar.
Tape a note to your bathroom mirror.
This may seem a bit at odds with the last intangible. It’s not. In fact, it will make the commitment easier to carry out.
Your approach to Bible reading and prayer must be relational…not informational. The goal of your Bible reading is not to learn about God. The goal is to hang out with Him.
I have written and spoken more on this topic than any other. It’s my greatest passion. I have seen this one, simple shift in approach transform the Bible reading experience of thousands of people.
Here is another way of looking at what I mean when I say relational Bible study: God does not have something to teach you every day. Sometimes He does. Sometimes He needs to instruct you, discipline you, or comfort you. Other times, He simply wants to BE with you. He wants you to read His Word and enjoy the read.
If you read the Bible and don’t “learn” anything, you have not wasted your time!
After all, if you spent time with your spouse, kids, or a good friend – and you didn’t learn anything – would that be a waste of time? Of course not! In fact, I would argue that if you had a friend who wanted to teach you something every time you got together, it wouldn’t be long before you would be making up excuses to not spend time with them!
Hmmm…maybe that explains why people make so many excuses for not spending time with God. They think of Him as only a teacher, or disciplinarian, or counselor, rather than the Lover Of My Soul.
Almost every person who successfully keeps their commitment to Bible reading (or exercise, healthy eating, or watching less TV) has something in common. They tell someone.
That’s the clincher. Tell someone.
(BTW…The opposite is also true. People who fail to keep their commitments almost always try to do it alone. Bad idea. Really bad.)
There is something about speaking your commitment out loud to another person. It’s a game-changer. When you know that someone else knows – especially if you’ve given them permission to ask you about it! – you will be more consistent.
Better yet…Don’t just tell them. Ask them to join you!
Make a Bible-reading decision. Make a specific commitment to what it will look like. Approach your time in the Word relationally…not informationally. Tell someone what you’re doing.
See you in Part 2 where we move to the “When” element and explore several different ways to make Bible-reading work with your schedule.