Last year I started reading the Bible in a year, chronologically. This was following a plan I picked up at church- having tried different approaches before I liked the idea of reading it that way. It’s taken me until the middle of January this year to actually finish reading it all (I finished on Sunday, hooray!) but actually that doesn’t bother me. It was never about reaching the goal, it was about growing in my faith, learning more about the one who knows me better than anyone, and cultivating a life giving habit.
I thought I would write a post sharing some of my experiences and tips in case you ever decide to try the same!
There’s no doubting that reading the Bible in a year is a serious undertaking- after all it’s quite a long read! Most days I was reading 3 or 4 chapters, or even entire books, which is certainly daunting when you begin. If you don’t know where to start- there are 3 main ways I would suggest- either read from front to back, chronologically, or find a plan which pairs old and new testament together. She Reads Truth did a plan like that last year which would be a good place to follow along.
Here’s some tips I’ve learnt along the way, to break it down and make it more manageable and enjoyable!
1. Be creative
You don’t have to sit down and read the three or four chapters, front to back first thing in the morning. In fact, you don’t have to read it – try listening to an audio version. I’ve done this through the youversion Bible app as well as the Gateway app. There’s lots of ways to listen to the Bible online.
Swap which version you’re reading it in- I’ve often found listening to The Message version or NLT has given me a fresh look at things when my ESV pages are looking confusing. You can listen to it whilst following along, and I often make notes, highlights and circle things as I’m going.
2. Be accountable
Somehow, tell someone you’re doing it. Online and in person maybe. It’s probably best to have at least one person you know can prod you and ask how you’re doing. Then if you’ve forgotten for a week at least eventually someone will remind you! I tried to send texts to others I knew asking how they were getting on.
A group of us from church were doing it together, and meeting just once a month was so encouraging. Ask if one of your church or friends would like to join in- the worst that can happen is they’ll say no thanks! Often we were all at different places in the plan or behind, but it always spurred me on and got me thinking about what I’d learned and loved most that month.
Don’t just try to cross it off your list or tick the box- that’s an easy way to get discouraged and fed up of it- I know that feeling! Last time I did a Bible in a year plan I made it to June and gave up, because I recognised that I was just doing it legalistically. I wanted to be able to go at a slower pace and dig into certain books of the Bible with more depth than I was able to at that time. Pick a key verse from your chapters, or take time to reflect on each book as you finish it. Write your thoughts down, talk it through with someone, paint a verse, make a song- whatever helps you to think about what you’ve learned and apply it to your life and relationship with God. I’m loving Bible journaling at the moment.
4. Give yourself grace
You’ll probably get behind- you’re human. You’ll probably forget one day, you might struggle through Chronicles, you might go on holiday and struggle to work out a new rhythm in your day that works for you. I was about a month behind since July, when we went to France, but kept going and slowly reading a little more to catch up. If you finish outside of the year- that’s still fine (it better be!) If you’re skipping books and you go back to them at the end- so be it! Decide what your aims for why you’re doing it are and remember those. If you’re confused or struggling, find help- ask someone you trust, look in a commentary, there’s so many tools around to help.
5. Enjoy it
We get to spend time dwelling in words written about the greatest love there ever was, learning about our father, maker, rescuer. It’s a privilege that we have so many resources and tools available to us and so many translations of the Bible. Enjoy spending time investing in the only relationship that’s going to last, an eternal one. Celebrate your achievements, however imperfect.
I am once again looking forward to a slower pace and time to dig deep, deep into what I’m reading. I’m thinking of going back to James, since that book really hit me each time I’ve read it and I’d love to revisit it with fresh eyes. Watch out on instagram for some more Bible journaling pages!
A little reminder that I would love it if you could fill in my survey– only four easy questions!