Few, if any, would dispute the idea that the single most important thing we can do to grow in our knowledge of God is to read the Bible. It is of the utmost importance that we read the Scriptures as a part of our regular routine to grow as Christians. So, as the New Year approaches, many find this is a good time to start a new Bible reading program.
I thought I would take this opportunity to talk a little bit about how I have approached this in the past and what my plans are in this regard for the New Year.
In the past there are a few different ways I’ve approached this:
The brute force approach is the one I started with and, I think, this is the way many people start. It is simply a matter of starting at Genesis and working straight through to Revelation. One downside to this approach is that I tend to get bogged down in the slower, more repetitive parts (like Numbers) which slows down my overall progress. This results in periods of time where I’ve wondered if I’ve really gotten anything out of my time in the Scriptures since I tend to start skimming as opposed to actually reading the passages.
The yearly program provides a more structured way to work your way through the Scriptures and has the added advantage (typically at least) of allowing you to read passages from both the new and old Testaments in parallel which can be helpful when those more laborious parts of Scripture are encountered. I have done these, but with limited success. Last year was the first year I’d actually tried to stick with the schedule and I ended up not making it through the year on the program. I had a spell where I missed several weeks of readings and, feeling I was too far behind, I abandoned the program and simply started reading through various books in a non-systematic way. The challenge then in these programs is ensuring the daily commitment is actually met.
The last method I mentioned is actually the way I approached this before trying to do a yearly program, but was still looking for something that ensured I covered the whole Bible without falling back to the brute force method. I simply took a typical yearly program, the M’Cheyne one I think, and printed it out without the day information. I then simply crossed out the reading I had performed and proceeded through the program this way. If I missed a day, it didn’t really matter since I simply had to pick up where I had left off. Additionally, this allowed me to read more than a “days” worth in a sitting if I was particularly engaged by what I was reading. I think it took me about a year and a half to complete the one-year program by approaching it this way.
This year I will be trying something a little different. I am again going to try following an annual reading plan, but this time I am going to try and incorporate journaling into my routine as well. I am hoping that journaling will help my time be more meaningful by establishing a way for me to record what I’ve learned and what questions I have. For this, I am using a journal that includes the reading plan that my church is encouraging her people to use.
However you determine to incorporate daily Bible reading into your routine for this coming year, the important thing is that reading God’s word is a part of your daily life.