How to Spend Time with God, Part 3
Have you ever tried to develop the discipline of daily Bible reading, expecting something explosive like aerial fireworks, only to fizzle out like a cheap sparkler instead?
But at the root, neglecting to listen to God through his word is a heart issue. We all find ways to make time for the things we really desire, and we desire the things that have convinced us they can satisfy us.
So if reading the Bible is a chore you dread, you need more than practical pointers. If the thought of reading the Bible is a buzzkill, you need more than tips and tricks. You need God to do a supernatural work in your heart, persuading you that God himself will satisfy you through his word. The good news is that he offers to do just such a work in all those who will turn to him.
So what does the Spirit of God use to quicken dull hearts? This may be hard to believe at first, but studies show that watching more Netflix does not increase one’s desire to read the Bible.[‡]
If you don’t feel like reading the Bible, what you need, paradoxically, is to read the Bible.
The Spirit of God will motivate your heart to want to read God’s word by using the promises contained in God’s word. But that means you have to read the Bible to find the promises that will increase your desire to read the Bible.
Here’s how it works. There was a season in my life when I was neglecting daily Bible reading. God graciously got my attention and rekindled my appetite for his word through this promise in Psalm 1:3:
Picture a deep-rooted tree, growing and stretching upward until it towers in the sky. It’s blooming and flourishing and thriving. Then imagine that as a fitting description of the kind of person you are. When God gives you a heart of faith that responds to that promise and says, “I want my life to be like that tree,” you will want to know how to become like that tree.
Psalm 1:1-2 says, “Blessed is the man … [whose] delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” As I trusted that the person who reads God’s word is blessed like a fruitful tree, my motivation to read God’s word increased.
To this day, I frequently turn to that promise when I lack the desire to read the Bible. I pray something simple like this: “Lord, I don’t feel like reading your word. Forgive me for my unbelief. You have promised that the man who delights in and meditates on your word will be like a flourishing and fruitful tree. I want you to make me flourish like that. I want to bear fruit for your glory and for the good of those around me. So as I read your word I am trusting you to keep your promise.”
And then I open up the Bible and read.
The next time you don’t “feel” like reading the Bible, confess your lack of desire to God as sinful unbelief, accept his forgiving grace, trust a promise like Psalm 1:1-3 (or one of the others below), and then act in faith by opening your Bible and reading.
Don’t just read when you want to. Read in order to want to.
More Promises to Motivate Bible Reading
 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
[‡] I'm not aware of any studies that actually show this, only personal anecdotes.