If you’re too busy to read, you’re too busy.
I just recently finished a year-long Bible reading plan, for the second time in my life. It did, however, take me 13 months to complete, because I’m human. On my previous one-year read through of the Bible the reading was part of a school assignment so I’m not sure that should even count.
To read through the Bible in one year is a big commitment of discipline and time. To accomplish the goal you can’t miss more than a day here or there or you’ll fall too far behind. You also need to set aside 25 to 45 minutes every day just to accomplish the necessary reading every day.
And I have to say, I loved it.
A few years ago I had lunch with some fellow Ecola Bible College professors, which included Dr. Ron Frost. During the lunch Frost explained to us that what instructed his teaching most was reading through The Bible (here’s Frost explaining his reading plan), twice, each year, at a minimum. I laughed. Out loud. Seriously. “Who has time to read The Bible twice in one year?” I thought.
I did not have time to read The Bible twice in a year, let alone once. Or did I? I was convicted. The Word of God is more accessible today than at any other time in history, yet I’m a great example how people cherish God’s Word less and less, despite our access to it. Couldn’t I set aside enough time to read the entire Bible for a whole year?
I made the decision to read The Bible in a year (*13 months) for a few reasons:
1. As a pastor I encourage people to make The Bible a consistent part of their life, but that isn’t always true of me.
2. It’s easy to avoid large sections of the Old Testament when you choose your own reading plan.
3. If I didn’t have time to read The Bible every day, I was quite simply, too busy.
A few lessons I learned in the process of my one-year (*13 months) Bible reading
1. I’m not really that busy.
This was the big hurdle to get over. Do I have the time to read 3-4 chapters in the Old Testament, a Psalm or Proverb, and 1-2 chapters in the New Testament, every day? “No way” has always been my answer. This year I put that question to the test. And the answer was a resounding yes. Yes, I have time.
How did I make the time? I stopped doing largely pointless and meaningless things. I made less time for tv. I sacrificed some sleep. I did not need to change my life in any dramatic way. Often we feel busy, but our time is filled with purposeless activity. It’s pretty easy to give up some of those things.
2. The Bible is vast in its approach.
Poetry, narrative, prophesy, apocalypse, exhortation, encouragement, sin, redemption. There’s so much variety in the Bible. This gives us a glimpse of God and his relationship with us in so many different ways. You can’t help much worship God for the expanse of his greatness as you work through the various literary forms the Bible presents us.
3. Just as you read the Bible, the Bible reads you.
Through this variety of literary forms, we engage with more than simply words on a page or screen, but God revealing himself. Even as he reveals himself through words, those words ultimately unveil the reality of our own hearts. As Eugene Peterson says, “This text is not words to be studied in the quiet preserves of a library, but a voice to be believed and loved and adored in workplace and playground, on the streets and in the kitchen. Receptivity is required.”
Nothing has had a larger impact on my ministry as a pastor in the last year than my year-long read through The Bible. It has allowed me to draw close to God, allowing him to search my heart, and has continually provided insights into opportunities for teaching.
If you’re considering reading through the Bible in one year, I recommend the Bible in One Year website and app put together by the great folks behind Alpha. Even if you don’t rely on their devotional writing and prayers, their format for getting through the daily reading is quite helpful.
With that being said, I highly discourage you from reading on a screen unless you are willing to shut off notifications. The single worst thing you can do while reading is increase the possibility of distractions.