Numerous blogs are encouraging their readers to start a new Bible reading plan this year, an ambition I support for a number of reasons. Organizational aids such as reading plans aid discipline and consistency, though they should never replace the impulse to roam about the Bible in one's spare time. Plans should create a core around which our interest in the Bible grows and we gain more passion to explore.
The trick to plans is keeping them interesting, keeping yourself motivated and choosing something that pushes you but is possible to achieve and finish well. Having a reading plan should not be dull. Spice things up, keep things fresh, maintain your motivation and start and finish your 2012 plan with passion.
1. Pick the Right Plan
Think and pray about what plan is best for you. Unfortunately we should admit that most people won't be able to stay on the Sermonindex 26 Day Plan that reads the whole Bible every 26 days. At the same time, reading 3 verses or even one chapter a day is probably not enough to live on. Pick what you need best. I recommend that everyone takes on a plan that reads the whole Bible in a year, or at least reads through the whole New Testament once or twice.
Length isn't the only concern. While many are choosing Grant Horner's Bible Reading Plan, some may find it confusing and difficult to keep up with. Unless you've already read the Bible a few times, one chapter of job mixed with one chapter of Isaiah and Acts may get jumbled in your memory and it may be easy to lose the narrative or the argument of the text. Some may want a more chronological or book by book plan. You may want to consider mixing Psalms and the New Testament in with Old Testament readings, so if your sloughing through Leviticus you can still refreshed by a Psalm or an epistle. Not everyone will find the division of the land in Joshua edifying at all times in their life. Also consider if you want to read a lot of Scripture quickly or a small amount slowly. For young Christians or those not well suited with the Bible, reading large portions is very effective, but as you become more acquainted you may want to slow down and take a more meditative approach. Make sure your plan suits your personality, reading style and learning style.
2. Keep Reading
Plans usually fail because we find ourselves busy and miss a day or two. You may be able to catch up at first, but if you keep missing you may eventually give up, especially if you fall too far behind to catch up.
Don't give up. Even if you miss a day or a week or more. Catch up if you can, but if you can't, skim the portions you missed, read the section and chapter headings and skip ahead to where you need to be for the day. It is far better to keep on the plan than to find yourself in limbo, discouraged and neglecting the Word. Stick with it even if you feel like a slouch for missing days.
3. Set a Time and a Place
For some, this will be impossible, but consistency is aided by compounding multiple habits and routines. Establishing a certain time everyday at a certain place for reading and study will help you keep on the plan. The downside is that if you aren't able to keep the time and place you may be more tempted to miss the reading too. Sort out what you can and can't do. I know I probably won't be able to plan on a consistent time or place unless I do my reading before 7:30 AM and I'm not sure I want to make a habit out of doing all of my reading when I'm hazy headed. Breaking it up into morning and night or coordinating it with meal times can be effective.
4. Enjoy It
Keeping a good attitude and actually looking forward to the time will work wonders. Establishing good thought patterns, intentionally thinking, "I can't wait to get to the Bible" will help you stay consistent and engaged. Let yourself soak in the Word, don't rush. If something else is stressing you out or on your mind and it makes you resent sitting down and spending the time, walk away and do what you need to do. It may be better to steel yourself and discipline your heart to desire the Bible first and foremost, but if you begin to worry and associate bad emotions with spending the time reading, you may need to work out a different schedule. Reading the Bible should be enjoyable. If it's not, take the issue to the LORD, do some heart searching and find a way to enjoy communion with God.
5. Spice Things Up
Adding variety to your plan can help. Try out a new Bible, a new translation, an audio Bible or start taking notes etc. Do new things with your plan or organize your plan in a way that creates variety. Incorporate a One Year Bible or a study Bible pick topics to keep track of or references to chain through. Set time to meander and get off the plan. Keep it new and fresh. I'll be writing more about this, but be creative. If a set time and place doesn't work for you than changing the location can be good. Try the library, a cafe or lunch at work. Talk about what you are reading with others, get their perspectives and relate it to what you are learning and experiencing.
More to come. All the best for your 2012 experience with God through His Word.
Reading Plan Generator