Last November I crossed an item off my spiritual bucket list. In January 2013 I set out with a goal to read the Bible in one year, and a measly 23 months later I finished the last chapter of Revelation. Okay, so I clearly didn’t meet the timeline, but I’m still considering this a goal achieved. Since November, I’ve considered what I learned about the discipline of Bible reading and identified the reasons that pushed me to finish and why I’ve failed in past attempts.
I found motivation outside of a schedule.
If you know me, you know I love programs and plans and schedules of all kinds. A former supervisor used to tease me for writing down tasks just to cross them out once completed. That’s why a plan for reading the Bible that’s broken down into daily tasks with check mark boxes so completely appeals to my personality.
In the past when I’ve thought of tackling this goal, I envision my daily routine starting with a quiet morning of Bible reading. Each January I think to myself, “This will be the year you get yourself together and make Bible reading part of your regular routine.” If I take a hard look at myself, I see that I was motivated by the idea of achieving a perfect day, a perfect routine, and patting myself on the back for a job well done. There’s nothing magical about finishing the Bible in a year, and while I do still strive to set aside time each day for reading, I’ll just be honest and tell you it doesn’t always happen.
At some point, my motivation shifted and instead of seeking to be on schedule, I became eager to discover the parts of the Bible I had never read before. I had previously read the entirety of the New Testament but some of the Old Testament and its minor prophets were left untouched. There’s something refreshing and exciting about discovering new texts in the Bible. But now that I’ve read it all, I can find new motivations as I read in 2015.
- Try turning you Bible reading time into a treasure hunt by setting intentions to list all of God’s characteristics as you find them or make note of all His promises.
- Keep a journal of the things (however small or seemingly insignificant at the time) God reveals to you. Periodically review those nuggets of wisdom to remind yourself that the God’s word is living and active.
- You can find words of encouragement in the Bible itself. God tells us in Isaiah 55:11 that time spent in the Word will not prove fruitless.
…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Consider the options, and give them a try.
I’m not using this space to explain why it’s important to read the Bible on a regular basis. Assuming you already see the value in it but need some tips for sticking with a plan, I’d recommend trying different methods until you find one that sticks.
First I tried a chronological reading plan, like this one. I really enjoyed this approach, and I’d like to attempt it again sometime. It begins in Genesis but soon veers over to Job and the Psalms. You will read the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel and then hop over to Psalm 11 and 59 to hear how David appealed to God during that time. It brings those Psalms into an entirely new perspective. I failed to finish this plan because, as silly as it sounds, it was printed out on paper and I would continually lose the paper or forget which passages I had read. Lesson learned, I need an easy-to-track plan.
There are also audio guides, like the one Brian Hardin offers at Daily Audio Bible. It’s a daily podcast of Brian reading Bible passages each day. At the end of each recording he includes a few thoughts, but mostly it’s just Bible. My husband finds this option works best for him. I, on the other hand, only lasted a few weeks on this plan before admitting defeat. I learn best by reading, not hearing, and I struggled to keep my mind from wandering. This could also have something do with the fact that I was primarily listening during my epic DC commutes where driving is a sport and wavering concentration will not do.
There’s an app for everything, including the Bible. This is what finally worked for me: this Bible app for the iPhone and the plan titled “CCV: The Bible in ONE Year” that you can access through the app.
Even though I found an option that worked, I’m changing things up in 2015 by following the Bible Eater plan. You can read how it works here. It’s structured to give you more flexibility and choice about what passages you read at what time while still covering the whole Bible in a year.
I intentionally waited until February to discuss this topic because you don’t have to wait until January 1 to make a renewed commitment to reading the Bible. I’ve decided to not let the calendar dictate my feelings of guilt or success, and ironically I’ve found more freedom and motivation to soak in God’s word.
Are you reading the Bible in 2015?