If I’m honest I’m fairly glad that no-one has asked me the question “what are you reading?” bible-wise. I have recently been good at ignoring my spiritual health.
When I think about the little bible i have read, my mind inevitibly drifts toward habits. Yet the only habit I seem to have successfully formed is the habit of saying how terrible I am at forming habits.
I do not know why I am so concerned about this. Maybe it’s because I am always in the game of self-improvement, and habits seem to be a gold standard of behavioural change. CBT is all about changing thought life habits and making them better ones. To take the old analogy of learning to drive, you know you have learnt to drive when you are able to do the actions without consciously thinking about it (to say “without thinking” is a misnomer as there is a lot of brain power still used, and of course driving does require full concentration). Habits can increase your ability to do other things.
It is like a life-hack but in reality it is difficult to hack. Once a habit is formed, you are able to just get on and do it, which leaves brain power for other things. The habit, once formed, leads to a simpler life. it provides a base from which more complex things can be achieved.
Having a regular time of reading and praying is vital in the Christian life. We are encouraged to make it a habit. And I have once again been challenged by this because today I hit a 20 day streak on a brain training app, and as we all know it takes 21 days to form a habit, right? Wrong. It actually takes a minimum of 21 days, and could take anywhere up to 254 days.
I know that the science on these brain-training apps is… sketchy, so I’m almost embarrassed to say that I use one of them, but y’know what? It takes five minutes out of my day. It makes me feel I am doing something good for my brain. Time shall tell whether it has long term benefits – but it does wake my brain up, which makes it a dangerous thing to do before bed. It may be entirely useless, in which case I have only wasted five minutes a day.
I am going to do something similar to impact my physical health: a very short strength program a couple of times a week. Yes, I would probably see bigger gains by becoming a gym rat but I would rather make a small change I can keep to. If I want to run faster I’ve got to start somewhere.
And it has got me thinking. If I am so wrapped up about making these mental and physical changes, where is the effort into my spiritual well-being? The adage that we put time into the things we love is true. So there is the harsh truth that I don’t love God as much as I either claim to or want to. The remedy: get to know him better, which means – yep, reading His word.
I have tried so many plans in the past, and I have one major gripe with them. Even if I find a good one, I always fall behind and then pretty much read for the sake of the tick, rather than communion with God, which as Tony Reinke helpfully reminds us, is the point of reading.
So I am now taking a different approach with very general plan: read through the New Testament. That’s my plan. Sometimes when I have tried to read through the bible I set myself artificial targets, like a few chapters at a time. But chapters don’t really work in the same way as they would in other books; sometimes the new chapter begins halfway through an author’s logic. I have been looking out for a reading bible – one without the chapter and verses, but I haven’t found one yet. They allow for a more natural reading style, perfect for reading the bible as a whole.
Until I find one, I have downloaded a bible onto my kindle. I have a bible app as well, but there is so much gumph on it it often hinders a straight reading process. My kindle bible still has chapter numbers, headings and verses, but it does still at least make for a slightly more natural process. I can simply read it as it comes. I am not setting aside time to, but simply reading when I have time. Which, as my twenty day streak tells me, I have oodles of