How to read the Bible [more] in 2014

Have you ever read the whole Bible? It is the best selling and most widely distributed book of all time and has shaped culture and history in ways that are immeasurable.

photo-9Regardless of whether you’re a Christian or not, the Bible is something everyone should be familiar with.

Bible reading is not a way to score points with God, but I find when I make it a part of my regular routine it helps me come to know Him in a deeper way. Since this is resolution time, here are a couple ideas that could help you make “Read the Bible” or “Read the Bible more” a do-able goal in 2014.

Have a plan

Let’s face it. It’s a big book. If you want to tackle a book as long as the Bible, you’re gonna need a plan.

Thankfully there are several that already exist:

1. The Bible in a year

This is a lot easier than you may think. If you read 200 words per minute, you can read the whole Bible in 10 minutes a day. Read slower than that? You can test your reading speed and see how many minutes a day it will take for you here: How Long Does it Take to Read the Bible?

Here are some tools that can help you make this happen:

The One Year Bible

This (and other Bibles like it) is designed specifically to take you through the entire scripture in a year. The pages are organized by day (Jan 1, Jan 2, etc) and each day contains selections from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs.

If you want something you can just open and read without having to think about where to start, this is for you.

Bookmarks

You place these at various places in your Bible. Then, each day you turn to the different bookmarks and read the passages that are next on the list.

There are several of these available:

If you’re a student, I recommend one developed by DTS that organizes your reading plan in a semester format and gives you 10 weeks off between the Fall, Spring and Summer semesters. You can download it here.

If you’re not a student, I recommend one developed by Discipleship Journal. It organizes the Bible into 300 readings, allowing you a miss a couple days each month without getting off track. I’ve used this plan in the past and it is one of my favorites. You can download it here.

2. One book per month

If you’re worried about moving too fast, this may be the plan for you.

Each month, you pick a book of the Bible to read. For the entire month, you focus only on that book. If it’s a short book like Ephesians, you will read the book several times over throughout the month. If it’s a longer book, you may only get through it once.

I love this for the shorter books because it really drills the material in. I’ve used it for several of the epistles and found each time I read the book through, I would notice things I didn’t see the previous time.

3. One chapter-ish per day

If you want something that you can pick up and come back to easily if you get off track, this one is for you.

The plan is simple:

Pick a book and start. Each day, read at least a chapter. If you want to read more, go for it. If not, no sweat. When you get to the end of a book, choose another one and start again.

This is what I do now and I’m currently working through Isaiah. Some days I read just a chapter, some days I read three. I love the flexibility and I’ll probably stick with this in 2014.

Set your plan up for success

In order to make your plan work, you need to set yourself up for success by making a place for it in the routine of your day.

When will you read?

For me, this works best in the morning. I know if I’m going to get my reading done for the day, it’ll to have to be the first thing I do when I sit down at my desk.

Now here’s the catch: I know if I’m going to successfully add this to my morning routine, I’ll have to get up early. For me, this means I’m up between 5 and 5:30am.

You may be thinking: “But, I’m not a morning person!”

If morning isn’t your best time, no problem. Choose a time when you’re at your best and put it on your schedule. That’s the key. If it’s not on your schedule, it’s not going to happen.

Want to become a morning person? Check out this helpful post: How to Become a Morning Person

Where will you read?

Designating a specific location will help cement it into your daily routine.

My mentor in Haiti has a special chair. Every morning, early in for morning, you’ll find him in that same metal chair with his Bible in his hands and a cup of coffee sitting next to him.

For me, it’s my office at the seminary. I try to arrive an hour or two before everyone else, so I know it will be quiet. As soon as I get there, I close the door, turn on the light by my desk, sit in my chair facing the window and start reading.

What will you have with you?

I always want to be sure I have the following three things:

1. Coffee

Not only does the caffeine help boot up my brain, but there is something about the steaming cup sitting next to me on the desk when it’s still dark out that tells me: “It’s reading time.” It kicks me in gear and helps me focus.

2. Pen

I’ll underline, I’ll circle and I’ll put notes and questions in the margins. I may come back to these markings and I may not, but something about the process helps me interact with the material at a deeper level.

3. Bible

I try to use the same Bible every time. Over the years, those markings have started to pile up and it is nice to come back to a passage later and quickly see some of the things that were sticking out to me the first time I read it.

Digital Options?

This isn’t exhaustive. You may notice I’ve only really talked about analog options. In the age of digital media, there is room for a whole series of posts covering apps and other digital resources. If your iPhone or computer works better for you – go for it!

There are a whole host of other options and plans available, too. If you’re interested, Justin Taylor has an extensive post here: How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014

The important thing to remember is that reading the Bible regularly is good for you (whether you’re a Christian or not) and it is much more do-able than you think. If you have a plan and you are intentional about setting your plan up for success, you can easily read the whole Bible in a shorter amount of time than you expect

What would you add to this list? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your tips!

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  • singinghairdresser

    I don’t have any tips, but thanks for the inspiration to start reading again!

    • http://www.perkinsinhaiti.com/ Luke Perkins

      You’re welcome! Glad to hear you’re back at it.

  • http://christopherscottblog.com/ Christopher L. Scott

    Thanks for sharing, Luke. I affirm that it is important to make sure you have items when you read. When I read my Bible I always have green tea (with honey), colored pens, and a Bible (physical, not digital).

    Thanks again for sharing.

    • http://www.perkinsinhaiti.com/ Luke Perkins

      I love that! For me, I think the coffee is just as important for cementing the habit in place as it is for giving me a dose of caffiene. I haven’t tried color pens yet. I may do that one day.