Last year around New Years I came across Brandon Vogt’s article “How to Easily Read the Bible in a Year.” Stumbling on this article was providential because I’d been wanting to read the whole Bible for as long as I could remember, but could never quite manage to get through the whole inspired book. I thought, maybe–if I had a plan–I could actually manage to read the entire Bible instead of losing steam somewhere mid-leviticus, or instead of jumping around from book to book, skipping the ones I found to be most tedious.
Brandon offers a couple of different plans for reading the bible in a year, and I settled on the one offered by The Coming Home Network. This plan provides a 365 day schedule, and it appealed most to be because it called for me to read only two-three chapters from the Old Testament and less than one chapter from the New Testament a day.
To say I am glad I took on this challenge is an understatement. My experience reading the Bible in a year was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I truly believe it was a life-changing experience, affecting both my prayer life and my personal relationship with the Lord. I encourage everyone to pick a plan like this and try it. God will do wonders in your life through your commitment!
Someone recently asked me to talk about my experience with completing this goal, so below I include 7 Quick Takes on how I accomplished it, obstacles I ran into, and some tips for making it happen, especially if you have a couple of little ones always in your company.
Simply pick a plan and begin. Sometimes I think a huge obstacle for completing goals is the need to have things “perfect” before we even begin. I didn’t know this or that about any of the plans that Brandon linked too, which normally would’ve deterred me from even attempting to begin. I decided that if I was going to do this that I shouldn’t give it too much thought. I glanced over the lists a few times, and quickly settled on one that looked “good enough” to me.
My advice: don’t agonize over the plan, just pick one! I really loved the plan I followed and it worked for me, but if you find one that better suits your needs, choose that! No matter which you pick, what matters most is having the plan. The day-to-day schedule is what will guide you through your goal and keep you on track. Another key to the whole process is commitment. Tell yourself: This is important to me, I will read one entry a day, and do it!
Set aside a specific time for reading. I found this to be a vital element in my reading and prayer life. If you want to experience growth in your spiritual life, I think it is absolutely necessary to put in the extra time. Set aside fifteen to thirty minutes a day for prayer and reading. Fifteen to thirty! It’s really not a lot, but it is enough to dramatically affect your spiritual life. If you are wondering where you will find those extra minutes, ask yourself: how much time do I devote to TV a day? How much time do I devote to reading other books? To technology? To social media? There are so many other things that can be re-prioritized and minimized in order to make time for that which is superior–your relationship with the Lord.
Understand right away that there will be days you miss. Oh boy. This was by far my biggest obstacle to accomplishing my goal. Know this: there will be days you miss. Life just happens that way. There were various reasons why I missed a reading here and there, but whenever it happened, I had to accept it and let it go. Often times the hardest part of completing a goal is having the tenacity to continue when you fail to accomplish part of that goal. Whenever I’d miss, I had to recommit myself to the plan and understand that if I wanted to complete my goal in a years time, I’d have some make-up reading to do.
With that said, make it a priority to play catch-up as soon as you can. Since there will inevitably be days that you fall off-schedule, make it a high priority to catch up as soon as possible. Skipping one day will increase your reading time by at least fifteen minutes, and you can count on at least that much more for each additional day you miss. Miss five days because you are traveling? Consider your make up time to be about an hour and a half chunk of reading. That’s quite a bit.
On the days that I didn’t feel like reading for over an hour, or when it was virtually impossible (because, hellooo,…kids!), I would plan ahead for the next five days and double up my reading. (Reading two days at a time until I was all caught up.)
If you have kids at home with you, don’t be ashamed to utilize the TV or any other busy activity to get your reading done. Someone asked me how I did this with tiny interrupting munchkins in the house. Honestly…no real concrete plan here. I just did.
The easiest way I accomplished my readings was to get up forty-five minutes before my babies. Not only was this a real treat for me to sit down with God and coffee before said munchkins awoke, but it made the reading that much simpler.
If you are not in a state of life where this is possible (like me now, pregnant and in dire need of all the sleep I can get), find time during the day when your kids are occupied, be it with the TV (one show, thirty minutes to do your reading…no shame!) or some other activity that keeps them busy. If they have a habit of interrupting you, remember: You have to set the tone. You have to emphasize to them the importance of your quiet prayer time, saying something like: “Right now mama is with God so please don’t interrupt me until I’m done unless it’s an absolute emergency.”
I’m not going to lie, this method is a bit more complicated, but it is doable.
Make your reading an enjoyable experience. Reading the Bible doesn’t have to mean you lock yourself in a cell, with dim lighting and a candle. (Though having a candle around is quite nice, in my opinion.) Make your time with scripture an enjoyable time! Pair your reading with your morning cup of coffee. Go buy a brand new journal and write your thoughts down as you go. Consider your time of reading not merely a time to digest the word of God, but to converse with him!
Pray before you read. Before you start your goal of reading the whole Bible, pray about it. Ask God to inspire you in your efforts, to draw you deeper into his word, to help you when you don’t understand,; to guide you to those who do, and to strengthen and increase your love for him through your reading. Pray a quick prayer to the Holy Spirit every day before you begin reading. Ask him to inspire your heart and mind as you read! Finally, pray in thanksgiving when you finish your goal at the end of the year, because what a gift you will have been given!
Though I don’t think our prayer lives should be monotonous, schedule-only times with God, I do believe that taking the time to schedule in positive habits with regards to our relationship with Him is a great thing. (And why not read the whole Bible while you’re at it!?) Taking this time will foster growth in your spiritual life, and will better dispose you to engage freely in your relationship with the Lord.
If this has inspired you in any way, I encourage you to act on it! Go pick a plan right now and commit to it! Easy as that to get you started on this incredible journey!