Each year I try to set new goals for myself and one of the goals that I started early this year is to read my Bible daily. Actually, it’s a goal I’ve had for several years now, but it tends to get off track not long after I start, causing my Bible reading for the rest of the year to suffer. Knowing my tendencies, I began working on this goal a few months ago and I now have a routine in place that helps me keep up with all of the daily responsibilities of work and home, but still keeps plenty of time each day for reading my Bible. It has been such a blessing to have the daily reminders and reinforcement of God’s Word in my life. So much, in fact, that I want you to be able to experience the benefits I have.
So to help you get started, here are 8 Ways to Simplify Your Bible Reading Plan for 2012.
1. Start with something you want to read.
Reading material or studying topics that you want to study will help you keep interest in reading your Bible. It’s practically guaranteed that if you start reading something you want to read, new questions and new curiosities will arise, leading to the desire for more reading and study. Do you like Paul? Read about him. Do the miracles of Jesus interest you? Read about them. Don’t let the traditional reading plan of starting in Genesis and falling asleep in Leviticus derail your reading goals for this year. Start with your favorite part of the Bible and go from there.
2. Start at the beginning of a book. (Not wherever the page opens!)
Would you enjoy reading a murder mystery novel if you started half way through chapter 6? Maybe…but you definitely wouldn’t be as engaged in the story and you’d miss out on most of the details. It’s always easier to get engaged in what you are reading if you start from the beginning. Use the guidelines from tip #1, but try to start at the beginning of that book so you can develop some context for what you are reading. Knowing the context of a particular verse (what comes before and after) will certainly effect its meaning, so be sure you know what a verse means by starting at the beginning and understanding the context!
3. Keep it short.
The last thing you need is for something as beneficial and enjoyable as reading your Bible to feel like a time burden right from the start. Start by setting a goal of reading for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. You could also begin with one of the short books of the New Testament, like Jude, Philemon, Titus, or James. All of these books have tons of information you can immediately apply to your lives, and answer some of the deep questions of faith. All of the books listed above can be read in one sitting or less. Almost all of us can find 10 minutes of time right before bed, or first thing in the morning, to read a chapter or two. The goal is to start small and get hooked on reading. An additional advantage to this approach is having more time to digest smaller portions of Scripture, leading to deeper understanding.
4. Read with a highlighter and pencil.
I have always found that I get much more reading done when I’m looking for important information. But I must confess, I don’t always know what I’m looking for! I have developed the habit of reading my Bible with a pencil or highlighter so that I can underline, highlight, or make notes about any verses that I find interesting and meaningful. The verse may have something to do with a topic I’m studying, a verse I don’t understand and want to come back to, or a verse I really like and want to remember. It becomes almost like a game to find the next verse I am going to underline. (By the way, I’m going through a new copy of the New Testament this way right now…it really does work!)
5. Have a designated reading time.
Sticking to a routine can help you stick with your Bible reading. Make a plan to spend a few minutes at the same time every day (morning, lunch break, before bed, etc.) and most importantly, stay consistent! Let’s face it, life happens and our routine will need to be a little flexible. But if this schedule varies drastically from day to day, it just becomes harder to get into a routine of reading daily. Try to not read at breakfast one morning, and the next day at lunch, and the next at bed. Have your Bible reading attached to roughly the same time every day so that it becomes as routine as brushing your teeth.
6. Have a designated reading location.
This might sound like a strange idea, but keep your reading location the same, and leave everything you use in your Bible reading (see #4) in that location. Reading in the same place every day has helped me greatly because every time I walk past my reading place, I see my Bible and pencil and I’m reminded that I need to get my daily reading in. Having a designated location becomes a memory trigger throughout the day. Suddenly the chair I watch TV in is now the chair I read my Bible in. If you are a coffee drinker, then read your Bible where you drink your coffee in the morning (most of my Bibles have coffee stains on the pages.) Having the physical connection of a place that you read will greatly improve your chances of keeping your routine. (If you are a person who likes to read in different locations like the porch in nice weather, that’s fine. Just have a “home base” for your regular Bible reading that will trigger your memory.)
7. Let others know your plan.
This tip will help you in more ways than one. If you let your friends and family know that you are making an effort to read your Bible daily, they will probably be willing to help you remember that you need to complete your daily reading. Another way this will help is that if you stick to tip #5 and #6, your friends and family will know that you are reading, and where you are reading. This will allow them to do their best not to bother you while you are reading. Another suggestion here is to share with your friends and family what you are reading. This can open up avenues of conversation about God’s Word that you may not have any other way. Just sharing a little of God’s Word with someone may completely change their lives. It will probably change your life too!
8. Increase your prayer time.
Anything worth doing is worth doing with God’s help. Philippians 4:13 reminds us that with God’s help anything is possible. Through prayer we can reach our goals, especially when they are focused on Him. Increasing our time in prayer continues to focus our minds on God, and on His Word. It draws us into a closer relationship with our Creator and Savior and allows us to communicate our deepest feelings of hope, anger, despair, and anything else that life throws our way. Communicating with God will most likely increase your desire for Him to communicate with you. And how does he do that? Through his Word, the Bible.
All of these tips can be put to use immediately. So don’t just make it a goal to read your Bible more this year. Make it an all-out Bible reading routine.