At the beginning of every new year, scores of Christians resolve to read through the Bible in the upcoming year. And about right now is when a large percentage of them realize they’ve gotten so far behind in their plan they are unlikely to catch up. As Robert Burns noted, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
I’ve successfully read through the Bible in a year several times, but I’ve failed in my attempts far more often. I think every follower of Christ should read through the Bible, but there is nothing magical about doing it in a year. In fact, it may be disadvantageous to do so. If all you are doing is checking off boxes to achieve a goal, then to read the Bible in a year is doing nothing to change your heart.
One year I read through the Bible twice in the same year, and it was then that I realized reading through the Bible shouldn’t be the goal. Meditating on it and allowing it to draw you closer to God is the better goal. The Bible is a big book, and it takes time to work through any book that size. But we shouldn’t read the Bible the same way we read a novel. Every word in the Bible is inspired by God Himself. If we read it just to get through it, we will miss the message and the divine appointments with our Creator.
Reading the Bible should be done slowly, allowing it to penetrate your heart and mind. I always read with a notebook beside my Bible. I’ll read a short passage looking for themes and repeated words as I read. Then I will pray through the passage, looking for ways to pray for the Church, our world, and how I might apply the principles to my life.
As you read the Bible, look for how what you are reading fits into the overarching story. Remember, the Bible is not about you. It’s about God. It is the story of His love, mercy, and power. There are absolutely life-guiding principles, and sometimes passages will seem like they were written specifically for you. But don’t confuse the way God uses His Word to speak to you with it being about you. The Bible is the story of God, not you. Too often I have met those who read the Bible from an attitude of what it can show them about their own life, or how to find God’s will for them. We should approach it to learn more about who God is rather than to discover who we are.
Reading through the Bible in a year is a worthy goal if we will do it slowly. Better to take three years to read it slowly, than to rush through it in a single year. Remember, the goal is to know God better and engage in His plan for the world and His Church. If we read His Word in a checkbox manner, we will miss the point. Don’t read the Bible because you think it’s what Christians are supposed to do. Read it to fall in love with our beautiful Savior and glorious King. How you approach reading the Bible makes all the difference in what you will get from it. Read it slowly. Meditate on the words. Get to know God better. Let His Word change you from the inside out.