I mean, actually, when in history did we decide that reading through the Bible as fast as possible was the best way to go about it?
Hi, I’m Andrea, and sometimes I forget to write soft, friendly introductions. Also, this post will be way shorter than the last few weeks.
I’ve been thinking about this for a little while. Because it seems that my entire academic Christian life I’ve been encouraged to read the Bible in a year (canonically, chronologically, or otherwise), or read through Proverbs in a month, or (one plan I just saw the other day) read through the ENTIRE Bible in 40 days. F.O.R.T.Y. D.A.Y.S. Really.
That’s a little less than 6 weeks, btw.
Do you know the number one reason people don’t have regular, personal Bible reading time? Because they say they don’t have enough time!* As another super-busy person in this world, I can attest to the “not enough time” problem, especially when a reading plan requires reading 5 or more chapters in one day. If you miss a day, it’s really hard to catch up. And for some personalities, if they can’t follow the plan perfectly, they give up with the first missed day. (My personality is included in this.)
I love reading the Bible. I love hearing from God and asking what He thinks. I like seeing where I’m pleasing Him and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be better. But I get frustrated when I see these plans with high expectations to read as much as possible in order to finish as quickly as possible. How are we supposed to hear from God if we are more focused on completing a reading plan than on what we are reading? How are we supposed to really learn anything new from His word, when faced with such a large volume?
I’m glad the resources of guided reading plans and devotionals exist. I don’t have a problem with a reading list. It’s hard to know where to start sometimes. But I do have a problem with putting another deadline in our lives, with measuring our “progress” against a standard set by people.
This is my solution, and it’s something I’ve been practicing for the last few months. I think it takes some of the pressure off and allows me to really look into the passage and understand it, rather than skimming over the words so I can check it off the list.
- Decide that you will set aside time for reading. Whatever time of day works for you. I’m definitely not a morning person, and when I’ve tried to do Bible reading first thing in the morning I end up dozing off and feeling guilty. I absorb a lot more of what I read mid-afternoon into early evening. Find what works for you.
- Whatever amount of time you have is fine. If you have to read while waiting in the pickup line at school, do it.
- Use a reading plan if you would like, to give you a place to start. But take the clock off. Break up the passages into smaller sections that fit into the time you have.
- Spread the reading over multiple days. So this is what I’ve started doing recently, and I’m much more consistent. Instead of saying “I will read Romans 12 today, Romans 13 tomorrow,” etc., I spread Romans 12 out. I find the pauses, the opportunity to reflect. I look for key verses and write them out. I journal about what the verses mean to me. But I could spend 3 different reading sessions on 2 verses. And that’s okay.
Because reading the word of God isn’t about finishing by a set deadline. You don’t actually get bonus points for finishing before anyone else. God is pleased by our faithfulness – so let’s encourage each other to be successful in faithfulness.
*Number one reason in an informal survey of my personal friends, who said they wanted to read the Bible but admitted that they didn’t read regularly – your reasons may be different.