Christmas is over and many of us are enjoying some time off now before New Year and the return to studies or work and the usual daily routines. At this time of year, when the excitement has died down and there is some time just to sit and be with family and friends, I like to take the opportunity to think ahead to the new year and how I’m going to approach my personal daily Bible reading.
If you haven’t already decided what you will be reading next year, (or perhaps don’t currently read the Bible every day), then here are some things to think about:
- Don’t swap the Bible for a ‘good book’. There are many very good ‘daily reading’ books around. Whilst these can be very beneficial spiritually, they should not replace simple Bible reading. The Bible is the inspired Word of God, and all Christians should read it regularly and carefully. Just reading a ‘random’ verse or two at the top of a daily portion is not sufficient. Daily devotionals certainly have their place, but this should be separate from (or to complement) the main focus of reading the Bible itself.
- Read the Bible consecutively/in books. It’s tempting to stick to your favourite passages or the Bible books which are easier to understand. But remember, the whole Bible is God’s word – you need to read it all to see how it works together and to fully grow in understanding. This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to read it straight through from start to finish – perhaps alternate books that you find easier with ones you don’t understand or haven’t read much before.
- Try using a structured reading plan. One way to make sure you read the whole Bible is to use a reading scheme that will take you right through the Bible in one or two years. I personally use a One Year Bible as I like the way it is conveniently set out. However, there are many different reading plans available which can help to keep you focused, motivated and disciplined. There might well be one in your Bible, alternatively have a look at the plan developed by Robert Murray Mc’Cheyne (the famous Scottish preacher), or the 5-day scheme (amongst others).
- Make it manageable. As mentioned above, I use the One Year Bible for my daily readings. When I first began this (about 10 years ago), I tried to read the whole day’s portion each day, but found this too much. The back cover claims you can read it in ‘as little as 15 minutes a day’, but I certainly don’t take much in if I read it that quickly! I have found it more spiritually helpful to use my One Year Bible split over 2 years, so that the portions I am reading are shorter and I have time to think about what I am reading.
- Think about the practicalities. When is the best time for you to do your reading? Ideally it would be a time when you can be free from disturbances and alone for a little time, as well as being alert and fresh enough to concentrate on it. For many of us, this is a big ask in our busy schedules. Have a think about when it would fit best into your routine and how you can maintain it over weekends and holidays, when your day might look very different.
- Pray for God’s guidance and help. Ask God to help you to plan the best way to read his Word and pray for his blessing on your reading over the next year. Ask that you will find reading the Bible a joy and not a duty. Pray that you will grow in grace and in your knowledge of him through the year. Do so again each time you sit down to read the Bible.