I don’t know about you, but every so often I find myself stagnating in my quiet time. These last few weeks I’ve really been struggling with motivation to invest in my time studying the Bible and being in the presence of God daily. I’ve been doing a few things to help me stay on track, and if you’re having a tough time focusing or being excited about your personal Bible study, I hope they help you out, too!
Before anything else, pray.
If you’re having trouble immersing yourself in Scripture, there’s a reason. Set it before God. While you probably won’t immediately discover the issue (though it’s probably as simple as fatigue or stress), you’ll feel better when you’ve cleared the air between you and God, so to speak.
Don’t try to judge yourself on performance.
Sometimes I find myself checking how long I’ve been reading the Bible or taking stock of how many notes I’ve taken, as if I can gauge the value of my Bible study by external things of that sort. But then I remind myself that the point of Bible study is just to pore over Scripture and be present with God. Maybe on a specific day I can only concentrate for a few minutes because I’m really tired, or I may not feel like I’ve had a great revelation, or I may even find myself getting distracted while I pray. But there’s value in every second spent with God, and I think this is one scenario where the thought really does count for quite a lot. Don’t be discouraged by a few frustrating study times.
Mix it up a little.
I’m the kind of person who’s always getting into a rut. I have pretty much the same thing for lunch every day, and I enjoy it immensely. I’m distressed if I have to miss my Sunday afternoon yoga class for any reason whatsoever. And while I love the comforting routine of curling up with my Bible and a cup of tea before heading to work every morning, sometimes I get stuck in a rut with my study of Scripture as well. I find that what helps here is introducing some novelty, if you will, into the study. I find that if I go outside rather than reading inside, do my study at a different time of day.
Team up with a friend.
A favorite proverb of mine is that if you want to go fast, you should go alone, but if you want to go far, you should go together. If you’re struggling to stay focused and motivated to study Scripture on your own, maybe studying with a friend will make it easier on you, and as mentioned above, just the fact that it’s a departure from your normal routine could be helpful. In any case, reading and discussing the Word with another Christian will bring up new observations and perspectives and be encouraging to you both.
Go to a favorite place.
I have a tree near my office that I like to take my lunch to on nice days. I look forward all morning to going and sitting at the base of that oak tree, and as I munch on my salad it’s refreshing to get away from my computer screen and enjoy the breeze in the leaves and the birds in the branches above. Sometimes I’m running late in the morning so I do my quiet time under that tree on my lunch break, and I really love that spot, so it gets me looking forward to my quiet time a little more too. Same thing with some of my favorite coffee shops and cafes, where the atmosphere and drinks make a pleasant addition to my Bible study. Going to somewhere that I love can help me get excited about my quiet time when I’m not feeling particularly enthusiastic about it on a given day.
Have you ever gotten an awesome running jacket or pair of yoga pants and been super excited to use them? I certainly have. New running shoes make me five times as dedicated a runner, at least for a few weeks. When my sister got her first journaling Bible, she was inseparable from it for weeks! While this certainly won’t fix all your problems, investing in a new Bible study tool can give you a burst of enthusiasm, and again goes back to the idea of freshening up your routine to keep you better engaged.
Give yourself an incentive.
Just like when your mom used to tell you that you couldn’t have any icecream until you ate your dinner, you can help motivate yourself to stick to a daily quiet time by saying, for example, no Netflix until you’ve done your Scripture reading. Procrastination seems to be public enemy number one on college campuses, and half the battle of personal Bible study is just showing up! Although I do sometimes like to do my Bible study at the end of the day so it’s the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep, if I just let it get pushed to the end of the day, I’m all tuckered out from the activities of the day, and it’s tough for me to concentrate.
What are some ways that you keep yourself enthusiastic about your daily quiet time when you hit a little slump?