- Love your Bible. If you have one that you love already, great! Use it. If not, do the research and spend the money. I like an English Standard Version with double columns and words large enough that I can read them easily. I love study bibles that provide intros and insights.
- Make a plan of attack. Many of you have already done this - you have a “Read the Bible in a Year” plan in hand or an app. Good…but don’t let it rule you. These plans work well for some but not for everyone (like me). I prefer to finish a whole book before going onto the next one. Whatever works for you, do it, but have a plan in place before you start. There are 1189 chapters in the Bible, divide them up how you like (4 chapters a day and you will be done in October). If you like lists, print a list that you can check off as you go. I have often recommended this method: read a gospel first (Matthew, Mark, Luke OR John) and then start Genesis and read as far as you can beyond that. When you get weary of the Old Testament, go back and read a book of the New Testament. Continue to alternate OT and NT through the entire Bible. Remember, just because you fail a plan doesn’t mean you fail the Bible. If you miss a day or fall behind, pick up where you left off and keep reading. The only fail is if you stop.
- Have dedicated reading time(s). I encourage morning reading. My main Bible reading happens in the morning and at night right before I go to sleep. I also read during the day but not as large of portions. Make it so you don’t feel right if you skip it.
- Read your Bible in any mood. Read it when you are angry with your husband. Read it when you are really excited. Read it when you are broken. Read it when you are ashamed of the sin you just committed. Read it when you are feeling holy. You always need it.
- Keep your Bible open all day. I keep my Bible out on the table and open all day long. I have it open to whatever book I am reading at the time or a Psalm or Proverb. Whenever I have time or am in need of a quick Word it is ready. Excellent way to seek God during midday busyness.
- Keep your Bible with you. I have a small Bible I keep in my car to read (or give away). Take one to work with you, keep one at your desk, take one to appointments. Your Bible is not bound to the house (or your bedroom), let it out once in a while! It is a great witness to others (i.e. your kids).
- Read your Bible continually asking what the passage tells you about God. He is the main character, not you.
- Expect confusion and questions. The best readers are the curious and disturbed (Why did this happen?). Read expecting to not understand all of it, but knowing clarity will come with time.
- Mark it up. Read your Bible with a pencil in hand. A mental connection occurs when you interact with the text using your pencil. Underline, circle, add questions marks (my first Bible was loaded with them, I didn’t understand much). This elevates Bible reading into Bible studying, and it also leaves a trail of your reading travels!
- Accept no excuses from yourself! Decide this is important (it is!) and discipline yourself in it. If you can’t do four chapters at that moment, still do a verse or two. Ladies, let me be real with you for a little bit here (I turn 40 next week, so I can speak freely now, right?). At age 17 in the midst of turmoil, I made a commitment to read the Bible so I could figure out this God for myself. That God took hold of me through his Word and has held me captivated ever since. I have read the Bible as a struggling single mother, I have read the Bible as a frustrated new wife, I have read the Bible as an exhausted and weeping new mother, I have read the Bible in my moments of greatest joy and deepest grief. I have found the most common obstacles are discontent with God and plain old laziness. I’ve been there, I get it. Command yourself to open the book and read. Nothing else has this life-giving, voice of power, it is the single source. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68. Only God gives words that enter into your soul as you read them!
- Finally, here is the plan that has worked for me for many years now: Read the Bible every single day and never stop…no exceptions…ever. What can I say, I like to keep things simple! This strategy has caused me to read the Bible several times through and I can honestly say I love it more now than ever before. It gets deeper and richer every time I read it. I am more amazed at God and more in love with Jesus than ever before. And I can’t wait to read it again.
Are you busy? Of course you are! And you always will be. There are no “calm” seasons of life so stop waiting for them – commit to reading the Bible. I am cheering for you; here are some of my personal tips to help you out:
Jesicah is the Director of Women's Ministries at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA.