How to make the most of your 2019 Bible reading plan – and stick to it!
Many of us made reading the Bible more an informal resolution for 2019, but how are you getting on so far? The chances your daily readings have already started to slip due to a lack of direction or an overly ambitious plan. Reading scripture every day is important if you want to grow in your faith, but how can you stop your Bible-reading resolutions falling by the wayside like the one you made about not eating cake in January or walking to work every day?
Remind yourself why you’re doing it
If you’re trying to read the Bible more out of guilt or a desire to show off your knowledge at the next home group meeting you probably won’t keep that up for long. However, if your Bible readings are genuinely motivated by a desire to grow in relationship with God you’re much more likely to succeed.
Some reading plans are so ambitious that even glancing at the daily scripture list will make you feel tired, despondent and inadequate. Pick a plan that will inspire your faith but that you will be able to keep up during busy times. There are plenty of apps, online readings and devotional books to choose from that can help you stay on track, but don’t think you have to read the whole Bible seven times in a year to win favour with God!
Stop playing catch-up
If you’re following a set plan and have missed a few days for whatever reason, don’t pressure yourself to catch up on the entries you’ve missed. Focus on getting back into a routine, and then if you have any spare capacity to fill the gaps, do so once you have read the current day’s entry. There’s nothing more disheartening than feeling as though you have to read the past five days’ worth of content before you can continue with your daily plan.
Read at a time that suits you
Some people will insist that you should start the day with the word, while others will suggest that reading just before bed is the best way to close out. Both may be true to some extent, but the likelihood of you reading the Bible regularly will increase if you do so at a time that works for you. Perhaps after breakfast is when you feel most alert and ready to learn, or maybe you like to commune with God during your daily commute. It might be that you like to read the Bible as a family after dinner. Whatever works for you, protect that time each day if you can. If you simply reach for your Bible haphazardly whenever you remember the chances are your daily readings will soon slip.
Study with others
It may help to read the Bible with other people, for example at a Bible study group, but use this as an extra to your personal readings, not as a weekly equivalent. This is a great way to aid discussion around the scriptures you’re reading and to hear other opinions. Perhaps your church has a daily reading plan you can all follow together and encourage one another in.
Get some context
It can really help bring the scriptures to life if you know a bit more about the culture and history of the period you are focusing on. Whether you are using a reference book, Wikipedia or a work of Christian fiction, try to imagine what life would have been like at the time the passage was written. This can really help to enrich your experience of reading scripture and bring fresh insight to familiar texts. Ask God to show you how to make these insights relevant in your life.
Take time to reflect
Most importantly, don’t just rush through your Bible readings to tick that box. Spend time reflecting on what you have read and listening for the still, small voice of God as he speaks to you through his written word. If you have the time, keep a journal to record what you have learned. This will be great to look back on at the end of a Bible-inspired year.