Several years ago at the start of a new year, I bounded awake excited to begin my brand-new Bible reading plan.
Sure, I had trouble following through in years past, but this was going to be my year! For the first few weeks, everything stayed on schedule, but then a curious thing began to happen—I’d get behind on a day here and there, eventually being weeks behind, stuck in Leviticus, and thinking about throwing in the towel.
Have you been there?
If so, I can relate and after years of profitable Bible reading, I have five suggestions for you that will keep you engaged and not fizzling out this year. Obviously, nothing can replace discipline and diligence—two key elements in studying and reading Scripture—but these five creative ways to read the Bible may help you if you find yourself stuck.
1. Select Anew
While I highly recommend having one main Bible translation to study and teach from, I have found it helpful to occasionally change the translation I read in my daily reading. In doing so, I have found these benefits:
- a new translation can give a freshness to your reading
- it allows you to see and discover things you might ordinarily gloss over
- it changes the style and emphasis of your reading and can make it exciting to keep going
While I think a solid word-for-word translation is necessary for your Bible study, reading other translations has often given me a renewed love for reading God’s Word.
2. Start Listening
There are a lot of activities I do daily—such as driving, exercising, cooking, etc—where I have the opportunity to listen to something at the same time. Whereas I could turn up the tunes, using these opportunities to listen to God’s Word gives me a way to not only multitask but focus on Jesus throughout mundane activities.
Over the years I have purchased several audio Bibles—and here are a couple thoughts to consider when looking at getting one:
- what translation do you want to listen to?
- do you want one person reading the entire Bible or do you prefer multiple voices?
- do you want an audio Bible that is dramatized (where there are different voices, often a music soundtrack, etc—almost like a movie without the images)?
- how much do you want to spend?
3. Speed Up
Sometimes the reason we get bogged down in Leviticus and grow weary is due to the amount we read. Many yearly Bible reading plans only have you read a chapter or two from a book in the Bible and thus it takes weeks to get through a book like Leviticus, Jeremiah, or Obadiah (just kidding).
One great idea is to challenge yourself to read through the entire Bible in three or six months. It may take 30 or so minutes a day of reading, but you’ll be surprised at how much the Bible comes alive. You’ll see connections between books and stories that you can easily miss when reading slowly.
Two great ideas to get started:
- take the total number of pages in your Bible and divide it by how many days you want to read (90 days, 180 days, etc) and find out how many pages you need to read each day.
- determine a set amount of time you want to read each day and hold yourself accountable to keeping it
4. Slow Down
In contrast, slowing down your reading has a way of reigniting passion for God’s Word.
A good friend of mine will read the entire Bible the first three months of the year and then will choose one book of the Bible to slowly read, meditate (chew on), and ponder for the rest of the year. Reading quickly gives him global context and framework, reading slowly gives him greater depth and understanding of a single book.
Rather than have the pressure to read through the entire Bible this year, why not consider slowing down and only read through the New Testament (several times), or choose a book like Colossians and read it everyday for two months and then choose another book.
I’ve found that the best way to smell the roses is to not run by them quickly hoping for a whiff, but to slow down enough where I can stick my nose inside the petals and inhale.
5. Stay Focused
Again, there is no substitute for discipline and diligence … sometimes we just need to buckle down and be purposeful in our Bible reading and study whether we feel like it or not. But we mustn’t forget one important truth: all of Scripture is about one thing.
Whether you read in the Old Testament or New, everything in the Bible is focused upon Jesus Christ. The Old Testament foreshadows His life and the purpose of the Cross, and the New Testament flows from this reality.
When you read the Bible, make sure you read it with the lens of Jesus. The Old Testament comes alive when you realize everything points to Him. The New Testament becomes more significant when you discover it’s all about Jesus, the Cross, and His work (via the Holy Spirit) to form and shape within you with His character, attitude, and love.
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Reading the Bible isn’t suppose to be boring, it is not some ancient text we are to academically peruse, nor is it merely good moral stories that tell us how to live—it is the very words of God, they are truth, and they reveal Jesus Christ.
If you haven’t decided on a Bible reading plan for this year, don’t wait. A richness of intimacy and insight await you.
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Interested in some other Bible reading plans and thoughts? I have written several other articles on the topic: