Inside: Has your time with God fallen by the wayside? Here’s a guide on how to read the Bible daily and form a quiet time or daily devotions habit.

I spent much of my Christian life not reading the Bible regularly. (Gasp!)

Calculating my alarm for the latest possible time, I would crawl out of bed at the last minute. Getting up seemed hard enough, let alone disciplining myself to read the Bible.

The truth was, I preferred sleeping in over seeking God.

But everything changed after I went through a challenging season. I became desperate for God’s Word and learned to read the Bible daily. Quiet time—and mornings—have become my favorite time of the day. 

You can establish this habit for yourself, too. In this blog post, I’ll show how to develop a Bible reading habit—using the science of habit formation.

What is Habit Formation?

Habit formation is the process by which our behaviors become automatic. Let’s break down the process of forming a habit into four stages.

This is what a coffee drinker’s habit might look like at work:

  1. The Cue: You’re dragging right now at work post-lunch and can’t concentrate.
  2. The Craving: You want to feel more alert to make it through the afternoon.
  3. The Response: You make yourself a fresh cup of coffee in the break room.
  4. The Reward: The caffeine and sugar kick in, turning you into a rockstar again. 

In his classic book Atomic Habits, James Clear writes that by rearranging cues, cravings, responses, and rewards, we can make habit formation easier, without necessarily requiring more willpower or motivation.

For example, if you’re on a diet, you can purposely keep junk food out of the house and stock your pantry with healthier alternatives. By making the response of reaching for that cookie more difficult, you make it easier to stay on the diet.

In other words, you made it easier to take the desired action by setting your environment up for success. When it comes to learning how to read the Bible daily, we can apply these same principles.

A Prayer for God’s Help to Read the Bible Daily

Fortunately, Bible reading isn’t a discipline where we have to muster up our own strength. God desires for us to spend time in His Word regularly and will help us to do so. So before we begin, let’s pray for God’s help in this endeavor:

Lord, thank You that You are always with me. I desire to develop a habit of seeking You diligently, but I cannot do this on my own. I ask that You would give me wisdom on the changes that I need to make to read Your Word regularly.

Help me to implement new habits and empower me to maintain them. Open my spiritual eyes to understand Your Word and help me apply the truths to my life. Amen.

How to Read the Bible Daily

So here are 15 science-backed strategies for reading the Bible daily. They’re based off James Clear’s Habits Cheat Sheet. Feel free to pick and choose the ones that seem the most helpful to you. (And if the morning is not a good time for you, substitute another time that works.)

Make the Habit Obvious

1. Fill Out a Habits Scorecard

Make a comprehensive list of your current habits from the time that you wake up. Do you pick up your phone to scroll for a few minutes? Or press snooze one too many times? Rate them as positive (+), negative (-), or neutral (=).

This exercise helps develop self-awareness of how your time is currently spent. Be honest and realistic. Is there anything that you would like to change to make room for a quiet time habit?

2. Write an Implementation Intention

Now that you have a better idea of your current habits, write out the quiet time habit that you intend to make. Include a time and location as a cue for the new behavior. My implementation intention is the following:

I will read my Bible at 7 a.m. in my brown reading chair in the living room.

3. Use Habit Stacking

Read the Bible after an existing habit to “stack” the two habits. The cue for starting to read the Bible would be the completion of the first habit.

The habit stack formula in my case would be the following:

After making my morning tea, I will read the Bible.

Habits can also be stacked together in a larger routine. My morning habit stack looks like this:

  1. After I wake up, I will make the bed.
  2. After I make the bed, I will start making my morning cup of tea.
  3. While I’m making my tea, I will take the dog outside.
  4. After making my morning tea, I will read the Bible.

4. Design Your Environment For Success

Instead of relying solely on willpower or motivation, design your environment to increase your chances of success. Leave your Bible out in plain view flipped open to where you left off, instead of putting it away.

Remember, out of sight means out of mind. Seeing your Bible open will serve as a visual cue for your new habit.

Make the Habit Attractive

5. Join a Like-Minded Culture

Find other Christians who are also seeking to be more consistent with their daily devotions. It’s easier to develop habits when you’re not doing it alone in isolation.

Start a challenge with your small group. Find an accountability partner and share how you’re doing with your new habit. Or complete a Bible reading plan together with a friend on the Bible App. Peer pressure can be used for good in this case!

6. Create a Motivation Ritual to Help Get Started

Don’t wait until you feel like reading the Bible. Motivation is fickle and undependable. Make it easier to stick with your habit by starting with something you especially enjoy—a motivational ritual.

Journal in a brand new notebook. Start with an uplifting devotional. Decorate a coloring Bible. Pull out that dusty guitar and pretend you’re on the high school worship team.

While it’s important to read and study the Word of God itself, in the beginning, think outside the box to make this time something you especially look forward to. Creating a positive association in your mind is particularly important if the notion of Bible reading has become drudgery or legalistic for you.

Do whatever it takes to make quiet time more appealing. In time, it will become more appealing. 

Make the Habit Easier

7. Reduce Friction

Find ways to make the process of reading the Bible easier for yourself.

Reexamine your Bible. Is the font size and format readable? Make sure that it’s a translation that you enjoy. (Here’s a helpful comparison of different Bible translations.) You might consider changing to a different translation for this new habit to switch things up.

Or perhaps you prefer to read the Bible online. Digital Bibles are more portable and convenient to find individual verses, but may be more distracting.

In any case, the best Bible is the one that you’ll read consistently.

Also, take the time to pick out a doable Bible reading plan. (Here’s a great list of simple Bible reading plans to get started and a more comprehensive list.) When in doubt, the easiest plan is to read a chapter at a time from one book at a time.

Print out your Bible reading plan in your chosen quiet time location. Don’t be afraid to use a helpful resource such as a study Bible or commentary. Consider adding Bible tabs to your Bible for easy reference.

When you finish your reading for the day, make sure you know what you are going to read the next day and leave your Bible open to that page. That way, you don’t waste time and get distracted figuring out what to read the next morning. 

8. Prime the Environment

Priming the environment involves designing a space for its intended purpose.

Organize your quiet time space so that you have all the necessary supplies. This might include a journal, pens, pencils, highlighters, or Post-it Flags. Keep the area clean and tidy to make it inviting.

Make your quiet time area your “happy place.” Include all five senses in your setup to make it as cozy as possible. Mine includes a succulent plant, a citrus-scented candle, and a throw that’s shaggier than an Old English Sheepdog.

I keep a special notepad to jot down unrelated to-dos that inevitably pop up in my head so that I can take care of them later. If digital distraction is an issue for you, priming the environment might include stashing your phone out of sight in another room. 

9. Master Your Decisive Moment

Figure out your decisive moment—the moment that determines whether you read the Bible or skip it entirely. A common decisive moment for many people is pulling out their phone before reading the Bible.

My decisive moment happens the night before. If I go to bed late, I end up waking up late and skipping Bible reading altogether. So I avoid watching a Netflix series late at night for this reason. I know my willpower isn’t strong enough to compete with the pull of the next binge-worthy episode.

Focus on mastering your decisive moment, and your Bible reading habit will come more easily. 

10. Use the Two-Minute Rule

God knows and understands if you’re in a busy season of life juggling work and family. The goal is not an hour-long reading of the book of Leviticus every morning at 5 a.m.—not unless you want to.

Start by reading a few verses for only two minutes every morning. By starting with two minutes, it becomes easier to establish the habit. And it’s more difficult to procrastinate and find excuses.

11. Automate Your Habit

We can use technology to our advantage through a Bible app. You can set up notifications to send you a reminder to do your daily Bible reading or send you the Verse of the Day. This is especially helpful if you choose to do your Bible reading later in the day.

Plus, you get to see that satisfying streak of completed days!

Make the Habit Satisfying

12. Use Reinforcement

Habits stick better when we experience immediate gratification afterwards. In general, our time in the Word will be inherently satisfying.

As a non-morning person, the reward that I got from reading the Word was noticeable. This time changed my mindset to a positive one so that I felt ready to tackle the day. As I read more of the Bible, God spoke to me through it and the hungrier I became for it. 

It might not feel this way initially or during dry seasons, however. If your daily devotions still feel dry and rote, give yourself a small treat or reward right afterward in the beginning.

13. Use a Habit Tracker

A habit tracker gives a visual measure of your progress, which helps make the habit satisfying.

To use a tracker, mark an X on a calendar for each day that you complete your habit. Or color in a square of a habit tracker. (Here’re some free habit trackers and digital habit tracker apps. I also love this wall-sized poster for habit tracking.)

Try not to break the streak.

But, we’re not aiming for perfection. So even if you sat down and attempted to read the Bible but got interrupted halfway by a crying toddler, give yourself credit—and grace. Some of God’s Word is better than no Word at all. 

14. Try Not to Miss Two Days in a Row

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to lose healthy eating or exercise habits after being sick or on vacation? The more days we miss, the harder it is to restart our habit streak. We revert to old, undesired habits.

So if you miss one day for whatever reason, that’s okay. But get on track the next day. Try not to miss two days in a row. Keep that momentum going!

15. Use a Stopwatch

This final tip isn’t related to building habits, but it’s been instrumental for me.

I set a kitchen stopwatch for the duration that I want to spend in quiet time. By doing so, I mark a definite start and stop time to put away distractions. It also gives me a slight sense of urgency to focus.

Yes, this idea may sound counterintuitive. But it might work for you, especially if your mind gets easily distracted like mine.

Why Systems Matter More Than Goals

In the end, the key to developing a Bible reading habit is to focus on your process or system, rather than the results. Your system is how you set yourself up for success. It consists of the small, consistent actions you take each and every day.

Ultimately, changing our systems will lead to a deeper change in who we are. We become people who naturally seek God when we wake up—not people whose goal it is to read X number of Bible chapters a day.

Quiet time will have become so deeply ingrained in our daily Christian walk that we won’t need these strategies anymore.

So consider making consistent Bible reading the next habit that you adopt. It’ll be the best habit you ever form.

Recap: How to Read the Bible Daily

  1. Inventory your current morning habits.
  2. Write out your habit with a set time and location.
  3. Stack your new habit with existing habits.
  4. Leave your open Bible out to see.
  5. Join other like-minded people.
  6. Find ways to make your time enjoyable.
  7. Make the process of reading the Bible easier (think translation, tools, reading plan)
  8. Design your space to make it conducive and inviting.
  9. Master your decisive moment.
  10. Start with reading for two minutes a day.
  11. Automate your habit using a Bible app.
  12. Make sure that you have an immediate reward.
  13. Keep a habit tracker.
  14. Don’t miss more than two days in a row.
  15. Use a stopwatch to help you focus.

How consistent are you with reading the Bible? What can you do to read the Bible daily?

For more on this topic:

how to stay connected with God after your morning quiet time

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Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

About the Author

Helen Rees

I am a Christian, wife, stepmom, psychiatric nurse, and writer. I write about research-backed ways to navigate the challenges of fast-paced modern life while growing in your Christian faith.

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