It’s morning. You know what you’re supposed to do, but you just aren’t motivated. You glance at your Bible as you get ready for work, and you feel a slight twinge of guilt that you just don’t want to today.
It’s been days since you read your Bible (or maybe months). You just can’t muster up enough energy to pick it up, much less open it and start reading. There is absolutely no desire.
Yet, you still feel guilt about it because you know it’s important but you just keep being so busy that you don’t have time. You wish you could find a way to stay motivated to read the Bible, but nothing has seemed to work so far.
Don’t get discouraged.
Everybody has done exactly the same at one point or other. Even “giants of the faith” have trouble staying motivated, so you are in good company.
Staying motivated to read the Bible may seem impossible because you’ve been going about it the wrong way.
There are a lot of different tricks people use to get themselves (and others) to do things, but they’re not actually that effective at helping with motivation.
Maybe you’ve been told some kind of monster story about what will happen if you don’t read your Bible. Sure there are some bad things that could eventually happen if you completely cut off your relationship with God, but not reading your Bible for a week or two won’t automatically send you to the dark side.
Fear is NOT a good motivator.
This is the kind of motivation that parents try to use on their kids sometimes, which doesn’t work if the kid knows they’re bluffing. If you know that the “monster story” is just a pack of lies, the fear motivator won’t work on you.
Also, if the things you’ve heard DON’T seem like a pack of lies, but actually have some truth to them, fear still doesn’t work because fear brings bondage.
God did not give us a spirit of fear; but of power, and love, and of a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)
When you feel trapped into doing something--even something as important as reading your Bible--you will eventually throw off the bondage and stop out of spite. And you will associate Bible reading with fear and darkness instead of something to be treasured and enjoyed.
Don’t let people use fear on you, and DON’T use fear on yourself.
2. Treats + Rewards
On the surface, promising yourself a treat when you finish something sounds like a good idea. I mean, who doesn’t like the idea of a fudge popsicle? 😉 People have successfully used treats as motivation for thousands of years.
So why do I say that it’s not a good idea?
Because when you promise yourself a treat, you start looking forward to it and then you start to resent anything that is keeping you from getting it. Which means that the thing you’re trying to motivate yourself into doing--like reading your Bible--then becomes The Bad Guy. The Thing That is Keeping You From the Treat.
And seeing reading your Bible as a Bad Thing… is a bad thing.
Reading your Bible should be the treat. The “task” should be its own reward.
The guilt motivator is a lot like the fear motivator. It takes something you should love to do and makes you associate negative emotions with it.
Guilt-tripping is very common among experienced Christians: those who have been Christians for a long time or have been in Christian circles for a long time.
Guilt-tripping is what happens when you have an authority you love (like your pastor) or strong friends that you care about who are constantly pushing you to do something. You resist because no one likes being pushed to do things, and then you feel guilty because you know the thing is worth doing.
Even though you know the thing is worth doing, being guilty about it is not the right motivator. Guilt brings bondage just like fear. No amount of guilt will make you want to. Only wanting to will make you want to, and there are far different ways to go about wanting to.
3 strategies for staying motivated to read the Bible.
1. Get a reading buddy
There is power in numbers. Having a true-blue friend in your corner is worth more than you know. If one of your good friends has been encouraging you to read the Bible, ask them to be your reading buddy. (And if they’ve just been preaching at you because they feel guilty about it too, than you’ll be doing them a favor.)
Make sure that you keep tabs on each other, and don’t let them out of your agreement. That’s the point of having a buddy: to lift you up when you fall down. If you have a couple friends, form a group.
A three-fold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12b
2. Listen to good preaching
Good preaching is preaching that is centered on the Bible. There are plenty of excellent preachers online. Here are a few that I recommend:
- Bill Rice III
- Dave Sommordorf
- Don Strange
Listening to people who have a fervent love for the Lord will excite you as well. Fervency is an emotion and emotions are caught by being around people with that emotion. (This is why guilt-tripping doesn’t work. You know you should, but you can’t reason yourself into wanting to.)
Plus good preaching is full of sound doctrine to help you grow more in your faith--and have a strong foundation on the truth.
3. Remember what God has done for you
This is a big key. Staying motivated to read the Bible really is about wanting to pursue a relationship with God. If someone or something has given you a bad impression of God, wanting to read the Bible is going to be hard.
It’s your job to get a better view of God. (Of course, the best way to do that is to read the Bible…. 😉 )
The second best way is to remember what He’s already done for you. Keeping a prayer journal or some kind of record is handy for remembering. We people really are like sheep: we forget almost instantly! Writing it down as it happens gives you an account you can go back to any time.
The more specific and detailed you can be the better, but remembering big things works too. Did Jesus save you? Do you have a good job and a place to live? Are you strong and healthy? Did He give you grace for the times things seemed too overwhelming?
Don’t forget these things. They are so important, especially when Satan is bombarding you with all the bad things he can think of (and trust me, he can think of a lot). You have to remember who God is and what He’s done. Then you’ll fall in love with Him again, and reading your Bible will only be a part of your relationship.
Do you need a reading buddy? I’d love to be yours. 🙂
I regularly host reading challenges over on Instagram, and I’d love for you to be a part of that! Make sure to sign up for my email list so I can let you know when the next one is. (And as a bonus, you’ll get VIP access to the Thrive Resource Library, which is full of reading plans and schedules to help keep you on track as you get more and more motivated to read the Bible. 🙂 Click here to sign up!