The beginning of the calendar year is a time when many people establish a list of things they want to either improve about themselves or begin doing in the coming year. Some will desire to better their health, whether that means increased exercise or better eating habits. Others establish professional goals – getting a promotion or better job, hitting a quota, or furthering their education. Still others pursue resolutions that are intended to make them better people – being nicer to others, giving more to charity, or spending more time with family and friends.
It’s also a time when many believers look to grow deeper in their faith by reading the Bible through over the course of the year. Each year here at Faith, we promote such a plan, with each week’s readings included in the bulletin. Since we instituted this several years ago, we have sought to utilize a different reading plan each year in order that your reading of God’s Word does not become rote or grow stale. To that end, we’ve utilized a chronological plan, a plan that focused on different genres of Scripture each day of the week, and one that provides five days’ worth of reading each week, allowing you to either take a day off or catch up if you missed a day (our current program). The plan we include in the bulletin begins each Spring, as opposed to January 1st (in large part due to the fact that when we started including these, it was in the Spring!).
Still, I know that many of you follow your own reading plan that begins with the calendar year, so I thought this would be a good time to offer some words of encouragement and advice for successfully completing your reading plan! Here are a few ideas that I think you will find beneficial:
- Prayer. I recommend that before you dig into Scripture, spend some time in prayer with God. Ask Him to give you understanding for the passages you will be reading. Praise Him for giving us His Word, that we might know Him better through it. Thank Him for His sanctification that comes from studying His Word. Then, read and meditate on your passage for the day. Then, before you close your Bible, spend some time thanking God again for the Scriptures, as well as asking Him for both the faith to believe what it written as well as the strength to put it into practice.
- Designated time and space. Developing a routine for your study is a critical component in regards to successfully continuing with your plan. As much as possible, do your prayer and reading in the same place and at the same time each day. Make sure it is a quiet spot where you won’t be distracted (sitting in front of a turned on TV or radio is not ideal). You’ll be building a good habit.
- Enlist a partner. Find someone who is willing to do the same plan as you. During the day, send that person a quick email with a few sentences about what you read that day. These may be a question about the passage or a way that you were challenged by what God has said. It needn’t be long (although you may carry on some good conversation as you share with one another!), because the idea here is to be accountable to one another for staying on track.
- Don’t get discouraged. One of the surest ways Satan uses to keep God’s people out of the Bible is to get them to miss a couple of days. Then, through a combination of guilt, shame, and discouragement, the Bible gets laid aside. Rather than quitting, simply pick up where you left off. Sure, missing a couple of days isn’t good, but missing every day is even worse. You may be discouraged after missing a day or two, but imagine how much worse it will be if you stop altogether.
This year, resolve to spend more time in God’s Word. I assure you, it will never be time poorly spent! And rather than striving for perfection with your plan (which, when missed, often leads to abandonment), opt instead to pursue consistency. Just something to think about…