10 Steps to Reading the Bible in a Year
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In 2017, the one resolution that I actually kept was reading the Bible in a year. Despite many life changes including my husband changing jobs twice and an abrupt move, I finished two days before Christmas!
The end of that January marked the beginning of my second semester as a small group leader. My lovely mentor Kim gave me the book Small Groups, Big Impact by Jim Egli and Dwight Marable. It had so much research-backed information about successful Bible and book study groups and how to be an effective leader. As it turns out, it doesn’t matter if you are college educated or not, have years of experience leading groups, your age, or how long you’ve been a believer. (Thank goodness!) What does matter is how much you are involved in serving your community, how often you pray for your group and its members, and how consistently you spend time with God. So that was my motivation: doing what I could to be the best leader I could be to my group.
I’m planning to read the Bible again in 2018!
I liked the routine of sitting down with God every morning, before I started my day. As a mom, spending time in the Word shows me how God is patient and merciful with his children. In my marriage, I learn that a relationship is lifelong, filled with ups and downs, but is based on forgiveness and reverence for those sacred foundational promises. Most importantly, as a believer, I can learn about and get to know my Father in heaven.
Reading the Bible in a year is a common new year’s resolution for Christians. If you have been struggling with it, I know you can do it! If I can, just about anyone can. Here are some ways I finally convinced myself to start, how I got back on track when I fell behind, and how it has affected my life during the year.
1. Just Start!
If you have been feeling God pushing you to dive into the Bible, just start! You don’t have to wait for January 1st — a year is a year no matter what day you start on. I can promise you that the next year will pass by whether you read or don’t!
2. But Make Sure You Have the Right Tools
I loved school shopping when I was a kid. Notebooks, pencils, folders, oh my! I jumped into those first few weeks of school, in part because I felt like I had everything I needed to conquer organization, note-taking, and planning. That applies to your Bible reading, too! If you like to highlight or take notes in your Bible, make sure you have the appropriate supplies. Also, consider trying out a different Bible translation or composition. I used the Chronological NIV because I wanted to understand God’s story, beginning to present. I highly recommend a chronological composition to start! This year I will be reading my standard ESV front to back.
3. Make a Plan
There are so many great Bible in a Year plans available online! A quick Google or Pinterest search will bring up some great ones that spread your daily reading between the Old Testament, Proverbs & Psalms, and the New Testament. But I wanted to read the Bible in a way that helped me understand the thousands of years of history first, so I chose to read chronologically. There are also chronological reading plans available on the internet for free if you don’t want to buy another Bible! Also think about what time of day you like to read. I chose first thing in the morning because my daughter doesn’t nap.
4. But Don’t Get too Attached to It
At first, I took the number of chapters in the NIV, divided it by 365, et voila! An easy Bible reading plan. Then I realized I wanted to have Sundays off… and Saturdays too… and some built-in sick and vacation days, just to be safe. Call me undisciplined, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to get burnt out. Reading the Bible and connecting with God should be something enjoyable, not a chore. I ended up focusing on the number of pages in my Bible, subtracted weekends and holidays and a few extra days just in case, but even that wasn’t set in stone…
5. And Forgive Yourself if You Get Off Track
I can’t even count the number of days I missed last year! I took a break when we moved, when I had early morning physical therapy appointments, when Emma or I was sick… it added up to a lot of days! By summer I had completely fallen out of my routine and I was so far behind. But when I was ready to recommit, I recalculated and got it done!
6. A Little at a Time
Focus on the small number of pages or chapters that you have to read today, not how much you have to go. I chose to get an ebook version so I wouldn’t have to worry about lugging it with me from room to room. But on my iPhone it had 8,000 pages! Thankfully, some of those were annexes and introductions, and I focused on my 30 iPhone-screen-sized pages a day. After I took my long ‘break,’ that number increased to 75, but it was still doable.
7. Don’t Expect to Love Every Second
I love spending time with God and getting to know him. But I don’t love getting up when it’s still dark, tiptoeing around so I don’t wake up my daughter, reading through some of the more unpleasant parts of the OT… and I think that’s normal! I don’t think there’s a rule that says we have to enjoy the chapters about skin diseases as much as the Sermon on the Mount. There are, however, lessons we can learn from each and every part of the Bible!
8. Get Outside Help
There were a lot of great notes in my Chronological NIV, but I still had questions. I used my Study NIV and Google to fill in the gaps. Often I didn’t have time first thing in the morning to do extra research! So I kept an ongoing list of questions that I looked up when I had a few free minutes later in the day. If you have big questions about the Bible, don’t be afraid to reach out to your pastor or a wise friend.
9. Set Yourself Up for Success
I’m not very good at ignoring distraction. So as a stay-at-home mom, I had to wake up before my daughter to get some quiet time! I also needed a comfy (but not too comfy!) seat, a hot cup of coffee, good lighting, and an empty bladder. Whatever you might need — highlighters, pens, a clip-on book light, a nice-smelling candle burning — try your best to have everything set up in one convenient place. There’s nothing like having to trek back upstairs to get your Bible once you’re all comfy in your armchair!
10. Keep Track of What Is Working, and What Isn’t
Something magical started happening when I consistently woke up before my daughter. I felt like I was in control of the day. Not only that, I had God in the forefront of my mind, I felt like I had already accomplished something, and most importantly, I drank my coffee while it was hot! When I started I decided I would write a summary of each chapter as I read. But the reading and writing were taking an hour each morning. I was getting interrupted by my hungry and cranky daughter, so I started out the day irritable. I had to give up summarizing, and I felt like I had already failed. So I took a ‘break’. A week later when I started again, just reading, I realized that I was understanding so much more!
Reading the Bible in a year is the first big goal that I’ve completed in my personal life. And it’s the first new year’s resolution that I’ve actually kept! Now that I know I can accomplish a long term goal, I’m using this success to drive my weight loss journey.
I hope you found some motivation and helpful tips in this post! Are you trying to read the Bible in a year? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below.
Making Bible-reading time part of my morning routine was the most important part of actually getting it done! Want to create your own routines that are unique to your life? I made a worksheet to help you with that! It’s in my Resource Library, along with devotionals, worksheets, and printables, too! Click the banner below to get signed up!
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