*This post is an edited, updated, and abbreviated re-blog from the archives.*
It is almost the New Year, a time when many Christians may begin a Bible reading plan or have new resolve to read the Scripture. Certainly there are benefits to having such aims or goals, but I wanted to share some practical thoughts in this regard.
Too many of us start with plans that falter and do not last. Why? The answer to that question will vary for each of us. But why keep doing something that fails? Make a change or an alteration in the plan! What’s that saying – “insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results”? – Well, stop it!
⇒ Know yourself. For myself, I have generally found that a specific Bible reading plan with check-off boxes does NOT work for me. I feel constricted…trapped. If I skip a few days, and see how behind I am with the check-off boxes, I easily lose heart and quit.
I’ve accomplished more Bible reading in recent years without a day-by-day, set-in-stone plan. What do I do instead? I pick a specific Bible to read through. Then I just begin reading, keeping an eye on how I am doing as the year progresses. Some days I read more, some less, some none at all (gasp!) – depending on various things such as my time, mood, mental state, etc. At times, I may need to speed up my reading.
Maybe this seems lax to you? But for me, it works! I need flexibility, a more casual approach, and a sense of freedom. For you, it could be the opposite – you may need a specific plan to follow.
⇒ Read at a time of day that suits YOU. It does not have to be the morning! I am not a morning person and I do not “begin my day with God” by Bible reading. Gasp! For me, reading the Bible when I am incoherent and barely conscious (the morning) would not serve much purpose…at all.
⇒ Thou shalt always read the entire Bible through? Says who? A Bible reading plan does not have to be reading straight through the entire Bible from beginning to end. Don’t feel trapped by so-called Bible reading rules or norms!
If you have always attempted to read the entire Bible and fail every time – try something different:
Make it your goal to read through the New Testament alone.
Or the Old Testament alone.
Pick one book of the Bible for each month of the year.
If it is a longer book, it may take you the entire month to read it through once. If it is a shorter book, you can read it multiple times that month and immerse yourself in it.
⇒ I am certainly not discouraging reading through the entire Bible. You may want to try reading through the entire Bible in a different way, such as with a chronological Bible. Or use a plan that varies your reading each day with a section from both the Old and New, or the Psalms/Proverbs thrown in for variety.
⇒ Consider a different version of the Bible than what you normally read. A different version can pique your interest and bring fresh perspective.
⇒ If you typically get bogged down in a certain part of the Bible, say Leviticus, speed read through that part. It’s okay – skim read! Better to get through it, than to let it completely derail you.
⇒ Keep in mind that there are different types of reading. Sometimes you read quickly, focused on the big picture. The big picture is important. You can actually miss things when you read slowly. However, slow and contemplative reading is important too. You miss things when you read quickly. My point? One year you may chose to do “big picture” reading (reading more of the Bible) and another year you may focus on “slow and contemplative” reading (reading less of the Bible but more deeply).
⇒ Finally, persevere! Just keep reading! Once many years ago, I tried a check-off box, read the Bible in 1 year plan, and … it took me … 2 years! I didn’t ditch the entire plan just because I got behind. Better to read the entire Bible in 2 years, than to have stopped entirely in 1 Samuel! Right?
There are no Bible-reading police monitoring you. Be free. I’m not saying to have no plan at all, but… Be adaptable. Do what works for you – even if it goes contrary to typical Bible reading advice or norms. I adapted my Bible reading to fit my life – rather than adapting my life to fit Bible reading. That made all the difference, for me.
Now go get some Bible reading done! Happy New Year!