I'd dug through every kitchen drawer and cupboard, searching for the only thing that would satisfy me … chocolate! I was in the middle of a full-blown craving. You know the feeling.
Only a few days after I'd torn my kitchen apart in search of chocolate, I came across 1 Peter 2:2: "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk." The New American Standard Version says: "long for the … word" (both emphases mine). I had to admit "craving" or "longing" didn't define my feelings about my Bible reading. Yes, I tried to do it daily, but some days reading God's Word was more mechanical than marvelous, more out of duty than desire.
If my cravings for Scripture were anything like my cravings for chocolate, I would just have to have it. I wanted to wake up in the morning and not be able to focus on anything else until I'd spent time in God's Word. I wanted to dig in voraciously, instead of half-heartedly.
To discover how to develop a craving for Scripture, I looked back at the high points of my spiritual life—the times when I couldn't get enough of God's Word—and took note of the things I did that contributed to the craving. Here are five things I discovered:
1. Remember the Bible's benefits.
After my son's birth, I experienced "baby blues." Although I found some solace in talking to other moms, journaling, and scheduling "me-time," I found the most significant source of peace and comfort in God's Word. Particularly the Psalms—seeing how David cried out in fear, confusion, and even despair, but consistently returned to acknowledge God as his refuge and strength.
At other times, I've turned to Scripture to find direction, wisdom, and encouragement.
Just as satisfying physical craving releases feel-good chemicals in our brains, satisfying a hunger for Scripture releases all kinds of spiritual benefits and blessings, such as increased wisdom, comfort, and peace.
2. Ask God to give you desire for his Word.
What better way to obtain a desire for God's Word than from God himself? Each day, ask God to give you a deep-rooted desire to spend time reading and studying the Bible. Then be alert for those inner promptings and reminders to open his Word and dive in. When I consistently ask God to give me a desire to spend time with him, he always comes through.
3. Keep a spiritual journal.
Keep a record of how Scripture has impacted your life. Take note of how various Scripture passages have touched your heart, motivated change, or given you insight into life's circumstances. When you've filled up a journal, notebook, or Bible, keep it as a record and reminder—one you can turn to time and again to see how powerful God's Word truly is.
4. Customize your Bible study to fit your personality.
For years I struggled with the inability to follow a "read through the Bible in a year" program. I've known friends and family members who have done this year after year, and I always felt I should too. But I always gave up by March. Finally, I realized the Bible-in-a-year plan just didn't fit my personality. As a detail-oriented person, when I try to absorb four or five chapters of the Bible each day, I feel as though I'm going too fast. I get frustrated and give up. Now I tailor my study to my personality—more in-depth studies and careful reading of shorter passages.
5. Customize your Bible study to fit your circumstances.
We all go through different life stages that demand a change in our Bible reading. A mother of three preschoolers might not be able to devote the same amount of time and energy to reading God's Word as she will when all her children are in school.
Take a look at your roles and responsibilities. Make sure you're not trying to do too much (and definitely not too little!) for your circumstances. Finding the method of study and reading that works for where you are right now will keep you from giving up in frustration, whether it's shorter reading times, listening to audio Bibles during a commute, late night, or catching verses during your children's bath time.
I know there still will be times when I don't "feel" the craving for Scripture I want to have. But I also know the important thing is for each of us to be aware of our desire for God's Word and always to be working to increase it.
Adapted from an article that originally appeared in Today's Christian Woman, Date, 2004. For the complete article, click here.