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Read or listen to the bible | Habits of grace in an age of distraction

Three Essential Habits for Spiritual Growth

There are three key habits that are fundamental to spiritual growth, and we never outgrow them:

  1. Engaging with Scripture: Whether through reading or listening, immersing ourselves in God's Word helps us internalise its teachings and deepen our relationship with God (Psalm 119:9-16).

  2. Prayer: Consistently talking to God about everything on our minds keeps us connected and grounded in our faith (Philippians 4:6-7).

  3. Worship and Fellowship: Participating in church worship and community allows us to seek God together and support one another (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Every spiritually mature person I know regularly practices these three core habits.

The Importance of Scripture

Reading or listening to the Bible is particularly crucial. Nothing can substitute it. There simply is no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture.

However, many people find it challenging to engage with the Bible. A lot of us find it hard. Engaging with the Bible may be the most effective yet overlooked strategy for spiritual growth.

How to Start

Beginning this habit might seem daunting, but you can make it manageable:

  1. Choose a Format: If you’re an auditory learner, consider listening to the Bible. If you prefer to read, that works too.

  2. Set a Realistic Goal: Reading or listening to the entire Bible in a year takes about 75 hours, or less than 15 minutes a day. Alternatively, reading it over two years takes only 7-8 minutes a day, a great option for beginners.

  3. Practice Regularly: At the end of the day, there is simply no replacement for finding a regular time and place, blocking out distractions, putting your nose to the text, and letting your heart and mind be led and captured and thrilled by God himself communicating to us in his objective written words.

  4. Keep Going: Don’t give up if you fall behind. Just pick up where you left off and continue.

Making Your Choice

There are many resources available to help you get started:

  • Websites: Try, where you can read or listen to various plans.

  • Apps: The ESV Bible App is highly recommended (the iOS version has more features than Android). also offers a good selection of audio Bibles.

  • Bible in One Year: Available as an app (iOS and Android) and website.

  • The Bible Project: Offers a one-year reading plan with video introductions to each book of the Bible.

  • Paper Bibles: Consider the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, ESV Study Bible, or NLT Illustrated Study Bible. A good study Bible is a valuable tool.

  • Audio Bibles: The Streetlights Bible

There’s no single correct way to read God's Word. We have the freedom to find what works best for us and to enjoy the process. The most important thing is to start. Choose a method, experiment, and build this essential habit at your own pace.

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