Let’s Get Ready to Read the Bible Through in 2017!: 5 Steps
Over the past twenty-five years, studies have demonstrated conclusively the correlation between reading the Bible on a daily basis and personal spiritual health. In fact, according to such studies, no other practice of the Christian life serves as such an accurate predictor of whether a person is thriving spiritually. God’s Word nourishes us, encourages us, leads us, teaches us, equips, and corrects us (1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Tim. 3:16). It offers us words to pray, a language for intimate community with other believers, and a Story for understanding our place in the universe.
Have you decided yet how you are going to engage the Bible on daily basis in the coming year? Here are 5 practical steps to consider as you get ready for that adventure.
1. Ask Others what has Worked for Them.
Experience—even when the experience is not our own—can be a very good teacher. Many times in life a friend has pointed me to a book, a plan, a method, or a perspective that transformed some aspect of my Bible reading or study. Whom do you respect in terms of their walk with God and their knowledge of the Word? Ask that person about his or her rhythms of Bible reading. What do they do? How do they go about it? What tools have helped them? You might also look for good articles on Bible reading tools and plans.
2. Retreat, Pray, and Plan.
Second, set aside at least a couple of hours to get in a quiet, retreat-like place (or a favorite coffee shop!), pray about your Bible engagement for the coming year, and write out a brief plan. You might begin by reflecting on your patterns of the past year. Thank God for the various ways you have had the opportunity to grow in his Word, and/or repent if you have neglected to give attention to it! Ask for God’s guidance and a realistic approach to settling into a life-changing, relational rhythm in your Bible reading as you start a new year. Once you have direction, write up a brief sketch of the time, place, and way you will do Bible reading.
3. Decide on a Method.
Third, there are a number of very good methods for reading through the Bible in a year. Will you read through the Bible canonically, the way the Bible is normally organized, reading book-by-book from Genesis to Revelation? Or perhaps you could read canonically, while reading a portion from the Old Testament and a portion from the New Testament each day. Each of these approaches helps you build a knowledge of where material in the Bible is found.
Or you could read through the Bible chronologically, the material organized according to when the narrative portions of the Bible took place and/or when the books were written. The advantage of this method is that you grow in understanding the Bible as a grand story, grasping how that story fits together.
Also, you might consider combining rapid reading (that is, reading large chunks each day) and reflective reading (reading or meditating on small portions). I will have more on this in a coming blog post.
4. Choose Good Tools.
Fourth, choose good tools. Which Bible will you use? Which reading plan, and will it be digital, a print-out, or a book? Will you use a journal to take notes, write in the margins of your other tools, or just read? Again, I will do a post in the next week or so on a number of tools you might consider.
5. Integrate with Community.
Finally, plan to involve a friend or a small group of friends in your reading of the Bible. This might consist of inviting them to read through the Bible with you or simply sharing what you are learning on a regular basis. Bible reading can also be done as a whole-church experience, so you could ask your pastor whether your church will be involved in such an initiative in the coming year.
Reading the Bible through will be one of the best investments you and I could make this year. If we read with open, teachable hearts, as companions of the Holy Spirit, and with joyful conversation in our communities, we will grow up in Christ even as we are growing deeper in the Word.