Thursday, December 31, 2009

7 Tips for Reading the Bible in a Year

'Tis the season for new year's resolutions, and many of us will resolve to read the Bible all the way through this year. It's easier said than done; there are lots of ways to lose the momentum and lose your committment. But it's really not that hard; 15-20 minutes a day will get you there.

You can do it. Here are a few thoughts to help you along on this venture:

1. Skim the hard parts.
Different things require and warrant different levels of reading. You do not read the tv guide with the same degree of care you do a textbook. You do not need to read the "begats" with the same diligence you give to the epistles right now. Ditto with the law and the more difficult prophecies. You'll want to come back to them another time, but for now if what you're reading is just terribly boring, skim it. The key here is don't lose your momentum, which will happen if you dread picking up your Bible.

2. Read the introductions.
Proverbs should be read very differently than Ezekiel or Romans. If your Bible has book introductions, they will probably give you some tips on how to do that. If yours doesn't, they're available online. Or you could get a book to help — maybe a Bible handbook or How to Read the Bible Book by Book.

3. Read meaningful chunks.
Every book in the Bible has a point. Many are designed to make a particular case. If you read a paragraph at a time of a book, you won't be able to piece that case together, and it won't make sense to you. Try to read at least a couple of chapters of any given book at a time, maybe more.

4. Read manageable chunks.
But if you try to read too much at one time, you may find have trouble processing what you've read. Reading the Bible is not just about getting through the Bible; it's about getting the Bible into you. Reading too much at a time can make that difficult.

5. Designate a catch up day.
Sooner or later you'll have a day or two when you barely have time to go to the restroom much less read something. Plan for that. Make one day — a week, a month, whatever — a catch up day. Pick a day when you have a little more leisure time and plan to read a little extra if necessary to stay on your schedule.

6. Make a habit of this.
Though bad days will happen, they'll be fewer if you get accustomed to reading at a certain time in a certain place. It can actually become automatic — that is, you can find yourself reaching for your Bible the minute you sit down, whether you intended to read or not. Choose a time and place when you'll have the fewest interruptions to read every day.

7. Don't make a habit of this.
Honestly, reading the Bible in a year's not the best way to read it. This will give you a broad view of the Bible, and that's important, but it's a terrible way to get a deep view which is critical for growth. So if you do it, do it this year and plan on doing something else thereafter.

Related articles:
5 Questions to Help Your Devotions
How to be a Self-Feeder
Reflections on Leviticus
Bible Study Links


Sarah said...

Thanks for this post. As someone who struggles to read the Bible on busier days, I found your tip on having a catch-up day very helpful.

ChrisB said...

I'm glad this was helpful and wish you success in the endeavor this year.