Many people begin the year intending to read their Bible in a year, eventually fizzling out around Leviticus or March. Daily Bible Reading is not always easy to maintain as this habit can be upset by dramatic changes to your daily routine. So how do we get into the word and remain in it daily?
Here are some suggestions:
Start With a Plan
I don’t mean you have to actually use a plan; rather, I suggest you have a “plan of campaign,” for how you will accomplish daily reading:
- When will you read?
- What are you aiming to accomplish?
- Do you want to read the Bible in chronological order, a little of Old Testament and New Testament, or just a little each day?
- How long will you read each day?
Having a strategy for approaching your reading will get you farther than, “I hope to read the Bible this year…”
If you are wanting to use a pre-established Bible Reading Plan, there are several ways to approach it:
#1: Read the entire Bible in a year.
- For a Chronological approach:
- The Daily Bible by F. LaGard Smith. One thing I like about this Bible is it has notes before many of the readings so that if you are enmeshed in the prophets for example, the commentator gives a little background to what is going on in that time frame or updates you on the context. I enjoy having the historical context, particularly when it comes to the harder passages.
- As It Happened, via the YouVersion Bible App which goes through the Bible in a year in chronological order. One thing I love about the app is I can listen to the Bible, making it easier to get my Bible time in each day. I will update you all later this year with my assessment on this plan!
- For a daily reading that includes Old and New Testament:
- The One Year Bible: The Entire English Standard Version arranged in 365 daily readings.
- The One Year Bible plan via YouVersion App All the YouVersion plans have checkboxes, updates, and notifications in case you forget!
Elihu’s Note: I tried this plan, but I had a hard time jumping from Old Testament to New Testament to Psalms and Proverbs. This might work great for you, but I had a hard time concentrating.
#2: Go for the Absorption approach.
This is an approach I came up with a few years ago, and it is one of my favorites because it’s not about getting through the entire bible in a set period of time, but rather absorbing the text book by book, chapter by chapter. To do this approach, have a calendar or daily to-do list with your “Bible Reading” as a check-off box. Make time every day to read or listen to a minimum of one chapter. If you read something, but it doesn’t make sense, read it again. Don’t hesitate to re-read a chapter or an entire book several times to get a good grasp on the book’s theme and each chapter’s context.
#3: Take a 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.
Set a reminder
I hear people slamming technology all the time, but it can be a great tool if used properly. Set an alarm or reminder on your phone around the time each day you hope to read. One of my friends put the Bible app next to the Facebook App on her phone, and each time she wanted to use Facebook, she resolved to read from her Bible first. The result was she used Facebook less and read from the Bible more!
Set your wake-up alarm 15-20 minutes earlier to read before starting your daily routine. Early mornings are often the best times to accomplish tasks because I’m usually the only one awake (less distractions!). Of course, you can’t keep hitting snooze if you actually hope to read. If you go to bed around the same time, that can also be a good time to get your reading in. Know Thyself!
Make Reading as Vital as Eating
It’s funny how many tasks—Bible Reading, exercise, prayer—go undone due to lack of time, and yet we always manage to find time to eat. Even if you do intermittent fasting for your health, eventually you’ll need to eat. God’s Word is like food for the soul—just as the body cannot thrive without food, the soul will not thrive without the Word. If you make time to eat, then read the Bible at those times. Read with your family at a meal time when you are all together. Read on your lunch break. Read before you sit down to watch Netflix.
Get an Accountability Partner
Sometimes we just need some accountability. Find a friend to read the same plan and check in with each other regularly to discuss what you’ve read or to do a progress update. Meet for coffee once a week or simply text each other every day to stay on track.
Change plans if you’re stuck
I’ve started plans and fizzled out either because I couldn’t keep up or because I just couldn’t get into it. If an approach isn’t working, try a different one! Remember, your ultimate goal is to be in the Word every single day to know God more. This isn’t about checking a box, but growing closer to God. If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to switch gears!
For more on this, read “Why I ditched my Bible Reading Plan.”
Remember why you want to get through the Bible. The goal of Bible Reading is to know the Lord and be transformed by Him. As you read, look for what the Bible reveals about it’s true author. God wants us to seek Him and He has provided these ancient words to us. So many people in history did not have this complete text that we have been given. We have a great gift—let’s not take it for granted.