In the previous post, we discussed goal setting. It’s important that your goals are specific and measurable. One of the goals I have for 2016 is to read my Bible daily. That is something I’m already doing at the present time, but I want to continue. If you are trying to establish that goal for the coming year, but aren’t sure where to get started, consider the following ideas:
#1: Read the entire Bible in a year.
If you have not yet read the entire Bible, I strongly recommend this approach, especially if you have been a Christian for awhile. It’s important to get the big picture of the Bible and what better way than to read through the whole book?
Remember, to achieve a goal, it’s important to monitor and measure. So if you are serious about this goal, then I suggest the following tools:
The Daily Bible by F. LaGard Smith. This particular book only comes in the NIV as far as I am aware, but what I like about this particular bible reading plan is that it places the Bible texts in chronological order. It also has the day of the month in the top margin so you can keep track of where you need to be. The compiling author (F. LaGard Smith) puts commentary in front of many of the readings which may or may not be to your liking. I found it helpful when going through the prophets, but some may disagree with his comments. It can always be skipped! Reading the Word of God is the goal, not someone’s commentary.
The One Year Bible: The Entire English Standard Version arranged in 365 daily readings. I really like the English Standard Version (ESV) because it is a bit easier to understand in today’s vernacular. One very nice aspect to this particular setup is that you get a passage each from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs in each daily reading. This may appeal to someone who has gotten bogged down in the Old Testament even though they really wanted to get to the New Testament. One negative aspect to this approach: it might be harder to really absorb the context by reading from so many different passages at one time. You must decide what works best for you.
YouVersion Bible App. Hands down, this is my favorite Bible app to date. I’m not saying it’s the best one, it is simply the one that I’ve had the least trouble using. You can use it on your smartphone or tablet.
Within the app, there is an icon at the bottom of the screen that says “plans.” Select that icon and a list of plan types will appear. Select “whole bible” and it will give you a list of various plans available (The ESV Study Bible is similar to the One Year Bible listed above). The great thing about their plans is that they give you the date you are on and they will send you notifications if you need reminding. So, you have a monitor, a measure and a reminder.
If you enjoy listening to the Word, this will also be a useful tool because you can do your “reading” while driving to work or folding laundry. Some people concentrate better if their hands can be active while listening. Again, know thyself!
Bible Gateway Bible App. (see also the online plans here.) This is also a great app, though it is a bit newer to me than YouVersion. Again, you can select a reading plan on the app and it also gives you the option to have a daily reminder. This One-Year plan actually gives you the option to select your start date! You can select your reading plan and go from there. I haven’t figured out how to “listen” to the plan via audio so if one of my readers knows how to do that, please let me know in the comments section!
There are many more tools out there, these are simply ones that I’ve personally handled.
For those of you who plan to read the Bible in a year, here are some things to consider:
First, if you fall behind, catching up is hard. The best thing I can recommend is don’t fall behind for more than a day. If you do fall behind by a week or so, you may want to simply jump to your present date and start from there so you can continue to monitor. The only problem is, of course, that you’ve missed out on that text, but if it keeps you motivated to read daily, then do it.
Second, try not to rush through your reading. The temptation with a one-year plan is to simply “get through it” and fail to actually absorb and learn from what you are reading. One great thing about listening to the Bible versus reading it (for me) is that it slows me down. I enjoy reading, but if I find myself skimming ahead or skipping around, then I need to go back and do the audio version so I pay better attention. I fall into this trap, particularly with books I am very familiar with or in genealogy sections.
#2: Read 1-2 Books of the Bible per month. This is great for someone who is new to Bible reading altogether. It’s a little less overwhelming. The downside is, of course, that you may miss out on certain parts of the Bible by selecting only your favorite books. Here are a couple ways to execute this approach:
- Write down the 12-24+ books of the Bible you want to read for the year and name each month. For example: January – Proverbs, February – Hebrews and James etc. If you get through the book early, then go back and re-read it or move on to the next book in line. Look at the number of chapters and decide whether you need to include more or less books in your designated month.
- Do 30-day reading plans from your Bible App. The YouVersion App has a plan called “Let’s Read the Bible together” and it is setup for each month of the year. I have not used this plan, but again, it is a way to measure and monitor your progress.
#3: The Absorption approach. This one is a bit more advanced and requires more self-discipline.
To do this approach, have a calendar or daily to-do list with your “Bible Reading” as a check-off box. Make time each day to read or listen to a minimum of one chapter. You might end up reading the same chapter or same book a few times until you really grasp what is being said. I read through Ecclesiastes 3 times in 3 days because I was just having such a hard time focusing on the message.
While you read/listen, consider these questions:
- What does this passage teach me about God?
- What does this passage teach me about people (myself included)?
- How does this tie in to God’s plan of salvation?
- What can I learn from this?
You may not be able to answer every question, but use them as a way to dig a little more effectively into the text.
#4: Chapter-per-day approach. If you are struggling to get in the habit of daily reading and the above plans seem overwhelming, then this is where I suggest you begin. The primary goal is to read from the Bible each day. Like prayer, I suggest you start with meal times. People don’t typically skip meals. When you sit down with your family for dinner, read a chapter aloud after the meal. Make it part of your daily routine. Begin in January, with Proverbs. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs—one for each day of the month. After that, move on to the Psalms. From there, go to the New Testament and read from Matthew to Revelation. Once that is completed, start in Genesis. One chapter a day isn’t that daunting until you get to Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible. Make sure that you make a little more time for that one.
I hope these ideas are helpful to you. It’s important to make a plan that is realistic and one that you will stick to. If you have additional suggestions or tools, please leave a comment below so we can help one another grow closer to God through His Word.
Happy New Year!