Now is the time when you are exhorted and encouraged to set forth your New Year's resolutions. Doubtless many of you have in years past made the decision to read through the whole Bible in a year. "This year will be the year!" you declare. Inevitably, it seems, within a month or two, you are already hopelessly behind and frustrated at your failure.
I believe one of the key reasons why so many fail is because we are setting the wrong goal. Our goal is not to read the whole Bible. Our goal is to deepen our relationship with God by reading the scriptures.
Now, reading through the entire Bible is vitally important in that pursuit. Only by reading the whole of scripture can we get a complete picture of who God is and how He wants us to relate to Him. However, when we set up these challenges to read through the whole Bible in a year, it is easy to get discouraged and give up when we fall behind. I have a suggestion that can reduce the pressure while helping you get closer to the real goal.
Instead of looking at a one-year Bible plan as a goal, look at it as a Bible study tool.
Let me explain what I mean. Here is a good example of a reading plan that will take you through the Bible in a single year: One Year Bible Reading Plan.
There are many others, but the key is to find one that has the readings organized by date. Instead of looking at those dates as readings that need to be checked off, look at each of those individual days as suggestions of what to read today. It is not a project; it is a Bible study aid.
When you find that you have time to read the Bible, look up the reading for the current day. If today is February 6th, you are given the following passages:
- Exodus 23:14-25:40
- Matthew 24:29-51
- Psalm 30:1-12
- Proverbs 7:27-27
Now determine how much time you have available to read. Maybe you only have a couple minutes right now; then read the Proverb and maybe Psalms. If you have a few minutes, read the passage in Matthew. If you have fifteen or more minutes, read the passage of Exodus. The key here is that you don't have to read everything; just read what you can. Read something.
Now if you can read the entire reading, go for it. You will be greatly enriched as you do. Reading plans like the one linked above give a good balance of the old and new testaments which help you to see the connections between the two -- the full story of redemption and God's love relationship with His people. But again, the key is get into the Word of God. Long and in depth reading can come later as your walk with God grows.
The key here is to simply look at it as a tool for the current day that helps you determine what you should read. You will not get discouraged or feel like you are behind because it is no longer a contest. You are not behind. You can just read what is in front of you.
I believe that you will find yourself reading the Bible more and getting more out of it. In fact, in the end, you will likely find yourself reading the whole Bible within a couple years while missing fewer and fewer days between readings. This does not need to just be a project for the next year, but it can be a reading tool you can take with you for the rest of your life.
Remember, the goal is learn about God by reading His written Word. Keep that as your focus, and you will avoid the trap of discouragement and disappointment. Also, pray every day before you read that the Holy Spirit would illuminate the text and teach you something new, and that He would show you how to apply it to your walk today.
May God bless you and enrich you as you grow in the grace and knowledge of God.
Another idea: I printed out the reading list above and folded each page in half before laminating them. Each half page has four months, so there are three cards in all. I stuck the current one in my Bible so that I would always have a reference of what to read in case I had a comment or two to read while waiting in the doctor's office or at a coffee shop.