Have you ever met another Christian who exudes joy whenever they talk about the Bible? I have. She was an older woman who studied the Bible daily and loved it, and she was my inspiration for developing a diligent devotional practice.
Sometimes we have to do hard things even when we don’t feel like it because we know it’s good for us, and that’s how I felt about daily Bible reading. I persevered for years, fighting through discouragement, tiredness, and other distractions. I genuinely believed—still do—that daily time in God’s Word is worth fighting for.
But I knew I was missing something because my experience didn’t fill me with joy like the woman who inspired me. Most days, I just plowed through the daily Bible reading so I could check the box on my reading plan and feel like a successful Christian. Maybe you’ve felt this way, too?
How do we move from duty to delight in our daily devotions? I’m here to tell you it’s possible. And the best part is that it’s not about what we do.
A Roller Coaster of Unrighteousness
Looking back, I now recognize I was striving for devotional diligence because I believed I had the power to sanctify myself. I treated daily Bible reading as if it was the single determining factor of my “goodness”—a ritual required for righteousness.
The trouble is, I’m a sinner. And I’m human—completely incapable of perfection. Naturally, I did not succeed at keeping my own devotional law every single day.
So, on days when I missed reading the Bible, I felt like a failure. I was on a roller coaster—skyrocketing up when I dutifully had morning devotions, plummeting down when I skipped a day, or when I “got nothing” out of my reading and couldn’t even remember what I’d read.
The Blindspot of Legalism
In the book of John, we read about the Jews who were persecuting Jesus because He wasn’t keeping the Sabbath the way they thought He should. They seemed so passionate about the pursuit of righteousness. We can relate to this in our desire for growth in personal devotions and our sincere pursuit of spiritual maturity.
So how did Jesus respond to these Jews?
Jesus said to them, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me” (John 5:39 HCSB, emphasis mine). He told them their spiritual lenses were foggy. They were hyper-focused on the “letter of the Law” and missed the miracle of the Messiah that was right in front of them.
The Bible is About the Gospel of Jesus Christ
The entire Bible is about Jesus (Acts 8:29-35). It tells God’s story of His love for us, that His Son Jesus Christ gave Himself to take the punishment for our sins so that we could be righteous in God’s eyes and enjoy the rest of our lives and all of eternity in fellowship with Him (Isaiah 53:4-5, John 3:16, Romans 5:8)!
God wants to have an active and personal relationship with us—with you!
God didn’t give us the Bible to burden us with an impossible to-do list or to provide us with a no-fail formula for living the Christian life. We have the Bible because of God’s love for us and His desire for fellowship with us. The purpose of developing a consistent Bible reading routine or time of daily devotions is not to “be a good Christian” but to know Jesus.
Restoring Delight to Your Daily Devotions
Relationships are not tasks on a checklist. If your daily devotions are more drudgery than delight, perhaps you’d benefit from setting aside your habit tracker or Bible reading plan for a season and shifting your perspective to simply getting to know Jesus more. (You may want to read How Giving Up My Bible Reading Plan Helped Me Delight in God’s Word.)
When we read God’s Word with an attitude of expectation and a desire to know Jesus more, our eyes are opened to the marvel of who He is and what He’s done, and our hearts naturally respond in awe, wonder, and humble, grateful delight.
As in all relationships, some of the time we spend together is more enjoyable than others. There’s an ebb and flow of delight, and sometimes it’s even mundane. But in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, our time with Him isn’t soured by guilt. His grace makes even the less-delightful moments sweeter.
My time in God’s Word is no longer about completing a checklist. I’m not just trudging through prescribed passages from my Bible reading plan. Today, my personal devotions are so much more than that.
My approach to daily Bible reading has changed because my motivation has shifted. I might read a single verse, a Psalm, or a longer Bible passage. Sometimes I do an in-depth study, work on memorization, or simply meditate briefly on a verse that’s meaningful to me.
But no matter what my time in God’s Word looks like each day, it’s no longer about me—it’s about Jesus. I delight in spending time with Him through His Word!
“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”—Psalm 37:4 NASB