How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.Psalm 119:103; Job 23:12
If you struggle to maintain a consistent habit of Bible reading and prayer, then you are not alone.
As we can draw so much strength, wisdom, and blessing from our personal time with God, the enemy relentlessly will attack us in that area.
In my own life I have identified 4 reasons why I usually spend time reading my Bible, and I believe others will see similar motivations in their own lives. They are,
- Devotion – we read the Bible because we love to!
- Dependence – we read the Bible because we know we need to.
- Desperation – we read the Bible because we’ve exhausted all other resources.
- Duty – we read the Bible only because we feel we have to.
The best motivation is devotion. We love God, His Word, and speaking with Him, and so we spend time in Bible reading and prayer. We constantly see new truths, we see how interconnected the Scriptures are, or we see a new application or depth to a new truth. Reading God’s Word is exciting, comforting, challenging, rebuking, uplifting, inspiring, equipping, and guiding. And we love it!
What God can do for us through His Word is secondary to just spending time with Him in His Word.
The second best motivation is dependence. We read the Bible because we know we need to. We maybe don’t enjoy it the same way as we do when we’re devoted, but we know we need what God has to say through His Word. This motivation is almost mercenary in its approach. We go to God for what we can get, and not because we have a thriving relationship with Him.
Just spending time with our God in His Word is secondary to what we can get from His Word.
Between dependence and desperation there is a tipping point to the more negative of these four motivations. Having tried everything else we finally try what we should have turned to first. With little thought for relationship with God, we just desperately hope for something to help us. The danger with desperation is we get through the moment, and then turn back to leaning on the resources that have already failed us, just long enough to become desperate once more.
The good news is the desperation can lead to renewed dependence, and then back to devotion.
The worst motivation of all, duty. We read the Bible because we have to. We read because our parents require us to, peer pressure compels us, routine drive us, or religion commands us.
The danger of reading out of duty is we expect nothing from the Bible and we find our expectations met. We check a chapter off of a list and then move on. In some instances reading the Bible is made to feel like a punishment and so we begin to resent it.
Why do you read the Bible? Do you even read your Bible?
If you read out of devotion then that is wonderful. Guard your heart and press on!
If you read out of dependence then you’re on the right track. But ask the Lord to shift your priorities to seeing the Bible as a means of relationship, and not just as a handbook for life.
If you read out of desperation then consider what got you there. Dependence is a fickle motive that often leads to not really making application and so we become desperate. Ask the Lord to draw you closer, see the Word as God’s revelation for you and all believers and love it, don’t just use it.
If you read out of duty then you may need to repent and seek forgiveness. It says much about our heart if spending time with God is a chore, rather than a joy. When we find time for everything apart from God, then we reveal something about ourselves that we need God’s grace to correct. Ask the Lord to renew your heart of devotion to Him, and then spending time regularly in His Word will feel like a privilege, rather than a duty.