Article by: Cara Ray
For years, I struggled to enjoy exercise. I knew it was something I should do several times a week, so I reluctantly went to the gym.
Despite my initial resistance, I always felt better after working out.
Similarly, I’ve often made excuses for why I couldn’t discipline myself to engage in a daily Bible study routine.
When I do find time for daily Bible study, I feel closer to the Lord, more in tune with the Spirit’s leading, and a heightened sensitivity to my own sin.
We don’t like to admit that sometimes we must force ourselves to do the things we know we ought to do, and should enjoy, but don’t.
But let’s focus on the word ‘force.’ It helps if we stop thinking of ‘force’ only as a verb.
For example, “I’m forcing myself to read the Bible today.” Any activity that stems from that attitude will only produce temporary change (if any at all).
Instead, think of ‘force’ as a noun. “Studying the Bible is the force I need to be more Christlike.”
This mindset reminds us that a daily Bible study routine is the source of power for our walk with Jesus.Studying the Bible is the FORCE I need to be more Christlike!
How to Use FORCE to Establish a Daily Bible Study Routine
- F – Formulate a Plan
- O – Opposition Helps You Grow
- R – Requires Effort and Pain
- C – Consistency is Key
- E – Endure to the End
When we plan for time with the Lord, allow opposition to work in and through us, embrace the effort and pain, consistently devote ourselves to the word, and endure to the end, then we are actively working out our salvation (Phil 2:12-13 ESV).
It may feel like a force of habit at first (verb), but by grace and over time, a life marked by faithful study of the word is a life tapped into great spiritual force (noun).
These forces at work in us develop the soul-satisfying, grace-empowered spiritual discipline of Bible study.
Just like we have to discipline our bodies for physical exercise, we have to discipline our souls for Bible study.
As we develop this spiritual discipline, we trust it will be of value to our lives both now and for eternity.
“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim 4:8 ESV).Just like we have to discipline our bodies for physical exercise, we have to discipline our souls for Bible study.
5 Ways to Use FORCE to Your Advantage
“F” – Formulate a Plan
In my current season of life, I try to plan 30-45 minutes with the Lord before my family wakes up each day.
I’m not a morning person, and I doubt I’ll ever enjoy getting out of bed early. However, the pain of missing this time with the Lord is now worse to me than the pain of waking up early.
The key to a successful daily Bible study routine is making it flexible. Regardless of your constraints, there are a million creative ways to infuse your soul with the Word.
Listen to sermon podcasts in the car or at the gym, sign up to receive an email with your daily Bible study, or study the Psalms while your kids are taking a nap.
Be flexible and be creative. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to a daily Bible study routine that works for you.
Consider your time with the Lord sacred (even when you’re grabbing time wherever it can be found). The only notifications you need during this time are from the Holy Spirit, so put your phone on airplane mode, and focus your heart and mind on the Word.Be flexible and be creative. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to a daily Bible study routine that works for you.
“O” – Opposition Helps You Grow
In the same way that resistance training makes our bodies physically stronger, our spiritual muscles grow stronger with opposition.
Opposition can be an internal battle. Dying to old habits and preferences so that you can make room for a daily Bible study is often painful. When we face pain of any kind, it is easy to toss out our new plan and revert to our old ways. Remembering that God’s Word is more valuable than fine gold (Psalm 19) empowers us to overcome this internal opposition as we seek to walk in victory.
Opposition can also be external. Testing, trials, persecution, and formidable enemies can (and will) come against us. They may vie for our attention in ways that threaten to steal our joy and rob our peace. It’s during these times of testing that a life built upon the rock of God’s Word proves most valuable.
As we seek to shift our priorities, we will discover that there really is room in our busy schedules for a consistent daily Bible study routine.
Although most of us would rarely choose to be confronted with opposition, a life that has been marked with the discipline of a daily Bible study routine is equipped for times of high demand and deep crises.
“R” Requires Effort and Pain
Sore muscles are often the result of a good workout. Soreness indicates that muscle tissues have been torn and are rebuilding and growing stronger. Similarly, the pursuit of a daily Bible study routine requires planned effort, and the resulting pain, in order to help us grow strong spiritually.
Denying our baser appetites in order to fulfill our higher ones is painful.
Philippians 2:12-13 ESV says, “Work out your salvation, with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Our salvation isn’t earned, it’s freely given by the grace of God. As we work on our sanctification (the process of becoming more holy) by establishing a daily Bible study routine, we must recognize the simultaneous truth that God is the force at work in us.
This is a mysterious formula that requires our effort, but ultimately, it is the result of God’s grace being fulfilled in us.The pursuit of a daily Bible study routine requires planned effort, and the resulting pain, in order to help us grow strong spiritually.
“C” – Consistency is Key
New habits take time. A day, a week, or a year of consistently going to the gym won’t give us forever-results.
Instead, we must integrate exercise into our daily lifestyle, like flossing, or shaving, or laundry.
We’ll never be free from it, and ultimately that’s for our good.
Day-to-day, you might not notice great leaps and bounds of spiritual progress. But over time are you seeing improvement in your ability to maintain a daily Bible study routine?
We aim for consistency, not perfection.
Even if it’s difficult to instill this discipline of Bible study, we take God at His Word that our trust in Him is not misplaced.
Psalm 119 reminds us that God’s Word breathes life into our souls (vs 29), modifies our earthly gaze (vs 37), fills us with hope (vs 49), is our comfort in affliction (vs 75), causes us to be thankful (vs 62), gives wisdom (vs 100), and keeps us from sin (vs 115).
These truths inspire us to consistently show up and grow up in wisdom and understanding of God’s Word.
“E” – Endure to the End
Endurance means to withstand hardship or adversity, especially for a prolonged time.
When spiritual dryness sets in, or circumstances become heavy, we can choose to throw in the towel or keep pushing towards the finish line.
Endurance helps us choose soul-satisfying joy in the Lord over the temporary pleasures of self.
At the end of Paul’s life, he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7 ESV). He efforted, and he endured to the end. But he also recognized his reliance on God’s grace. “The Lord will rescue me…and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim 4:18 ESV).
As you work to establish a daily Bible study routine, you will discover that God’s grace is the source of your endurance.As you work to establish a daily Bible study routine, you will discover that God’s grace is the source of your endurance.
If you are looking for a way to jump-start your new daily Bible study routine, we invite you to join us for this free 30-day study of Psalm 119. The powerful promises of Psalm 119 teach us how to commune with God in the good times and the bad, revealing the critical role God’s Word is to play in our day-to-day lives.
Everything you need will be delivered straight to your e-mail inbox, at absolutely no cost to you. We encourage you to set aside a minimum of 10-15 minutes per day to complete the study, but don’t be surprised if you are tempted to linger a while longer over these transformative truths.
– Cara Ray
Cara Ray is a wife, a mother, a marketer, a writer, and a lover of words. She and her husband have four kids spanning from elementary to college, and while their needs are diverse, she’s loving this stage of parenting. Cara loves to eat out, and work out (mostly so that she can continue eating out) and sharing life with others. She loves Jesus and is thankful for his grace towards her every single day. Read more of Cara’s writing at Cara-Ray.com and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.