This is the second thought I have been pondering for the new year. The first thing is whether I was committing to the new year, new me philosophy, have a read here.
I know I will not be the only person thinking about what bible plan I will use this year. While doing this I have been contemplating if we go about this slightly the wrong way. I think it is amazing to plan to read the whole bible in a year, and definitely what I hope to do, however do we just read God’s word or revel in it?
I think like many people I get a few books in to my plan and then struggle. Is this because the bible is boring? No, though we can often think so. I think there are a couple of factors, so this year I hope to change the way I read the bible, and most importantly how and why I do it. So why may we struggle and what may help us move from just reading the bible to revelling in it:
1) We read it because it is what we have to do, not what we want to do. This is probably the biggest and most worrying problem. There is something to be said for routine, no matter how we feel, but any prolonged period of reading the bible because it is part of a plan, means we don’t understand what we are reading. This is God’s very words to us! We can think that parts of the bible are really exciting and important, while others are just irrelevant. The bible disagrees with this assessment though:
the man of God may be competent, <span class=”crossreference” data-link=”(C)” data-cr=”#cen-ESVUK-29854C” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0px;”>equipped <span class=”crossreference” data-link=”(D)” data-cr=”#cen-ESVUK-29854D” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0px;”>for every good work.All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
We should be excited every time we open the bible. If God had something to say to you personally, you would want to hear it. This is what the bible is! Gods personal words to you: that build you up, sustain you and breath life into you.
What I plan to do different this year: When I think this bit of the bible is boring, I am going to remember it is essential to my faith and amazingly it is deepening the relationship I have with my creator, saviour and Lord. This year I am going to pray that this is something I don’t just understand, but I really believe of each and every page.
2) We read the bible in a way that is makes it harder to enjoy. Bible plans are great, but they often haven’t split the bible in logical way. This means we don’t get the flow of the biblical narrative. God wrote the bible in books for a reason, and yet most of us won’t remember the last time we attempted to read a book in one sitting, particularly if it is more than 2 or 3 chapters. If we just read 3 set chapters, then put the bible down, we can’t necessarily see what God is actually telling us, and can sometimes scarily massively misunderstand what he is teaching us. It also gets us stuck in sections of the bible which are much more understandable, and exciting, if read in large chunks, rather than drip fed over a couple of weeks. We can revel in God’s word and get more excited we understand it.
What I plan to do different this year: This year I am not going to read a set plan (outrageous I know), but read each book(s) cover to cover on weekends, then in the week going back over the book and look at each logical section in more detail. When I can’t see where to split the book I will use the videos from the bible project to help split the books for week day readings. Hopefully though I will get better at doing this myself over the course of the year.
3) We set aside a set amount of time in the day for reading the bible. It is essential that we do this, but when we say I will spend 20 minutes reading the bible and that is it, we tend not to end up revelling in God’s word. We get to understand what is going on in the passage within 20 minutes, but do we really dig beneath the surface, work out why God put the passage into the bible, and how it actually applies to us?
We are busy, and it is unreasonable to plan to just read until we are done, there are limits to the time we have. However, how amazing would it be to occasionally set aside a whole evening just to spend quality time with God? Do we not set aside more time than just a quick conversation over breakfast with our family each day? Yet we do this to our God!
What I plan to do different this year: I plan to not only do my set reading, but also to go back over the passage at least once later in the day, giving myself time to ponder on what I am learning throughout the day. Each evening I will then think about what difference does it/has it made to me? This way I am revelling in God’s word and soaking my entire life each and every day in what God is telling me. Also I will block out evenings where I can just read and think without rushing.
I am very excited to try changing the way I approach the bible, and to come expecting to learn more about God every day. This year I plan to love and revel in the entire bible! If I don’t finish the bible in 365 days but I am excited about everything I do learn then that is amazing. If I want to slow down in a book because I am growing and loving what I am learning, I can and will. Why not join me? If you want to do this with me, let me know. I would love to do this with others. I can write updates where everyone can post thoughts for each book, if this will help. Other ideas are welcome too. Let’s commit to falling in love with god’s word this year!