It happens to all people of faith. As committed as we are to read — or write — the Bible every day, we hit an awkward and dangerous place. We’ve completed one approach to Bible study but haven’t yet landed on a new one. When that happens, we tend to drift into a nasty place – the spiritual equivalent of the deer-in-the-headlights look. If only we had proven plans that would be effective and helpful.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
I’ve tried all sorts of methods for spiritual growth in my 35-year journey with Christ. Some approaches have been more effective than others. I posted about a general approach here. Some successful methods included:
- Studying a particular book of the Bible. The Epistles and Prophets are especially good for this dip deep into the Scriptures.
- Partnering with another teacher through a book to guide my understanding on a particular topic. A.W.Tozer: The Pursuit of God, Tim Keller: Counterfeit Gods, or James Montgomery Boice: The Cost of Discipleship were recent companions.
- Reading through the Bible books chronologically in the order in which they were written. This approach lets me see God’s gradual revelation of Himself to His creation. It can also take a long time – three years on my last try.
- Following a topical study of a particular area where I need help. Faith, temptation, anxiety, using time wisely, all have been topics I’ve followed at various times.
- Using a devotional guide can be a great help. There are many good ones that offer a passage and accompanying thoughts or a relevant story to jumpstart my own meditations.
3 Proven Plans
Sometimes I reach the end of a Bible-reading plan and just haven’t figured out what to read next. These awkward transitions can be dangerous seasons where I am tempted to fall out of the habit of reading the Bible every day. I know what happens after that. And it’s not good. So here are 3 proven plans to read the Bible that I have used repeatedly because they were simple, effective, and rewarding every time I applied them:
- Read Proverbs. “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.” I lack it. I can always use more of it. I often turn to the Book of Wisdom as my first default plan to read the Bible every day. No matter what I’m experiencing in life, the practical wisdom of Solomon always speak to me in powerful ways that convict, guide, and enlighten without fail. As an added bonus, Solomon was the first book of the Bible written entirely on Twitter (or so it would seem). Each verse is already broken down into bite-size morsels for my already overwhelmed brain. I’ll usually take one chapter a day for month because the book conveniently has thirty-one chapters.
- Read Psalms. “He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of waters.” Somehow, I do feel well-watered when spending a month in the Psalms. Another book that is easily divisible by thirty, reading five chapters a day will get you through in a month and expose you to a variety of moods, prayers, and praises. At least one is bound to connect with where you are in life. By reading every thirtieth book (1,30,60,90,120) you can progress rather neatly through the depths of the heart of the Bible with the exception of Psalm 119.
- Read the Life of Christ. You really can’t go wrong with studying more about the Savior can you? Who doesn’t need to spend more time walking alongside the Master and his disciples? You could choose to read a chapter each day. I prefer to read the gospels as the stories as they were intended to be, rather than following the artificial chapter breaks. You could choose one particular book from the Gospels and read that. For a revealing reading of the life of Christ, try a parallel reading of Christ’s life drawn from all four Gospel accounts. Each writer focuses on different themes in his account of Christ’s time on earth. Some mention stories others don’t. Each gives a unique take on a situation. By looking at them all in parallel, we get a depth we often miss when separated.
By having these 3 proven plans on stand-by to read the Bible every day, you can be the spiritual Boy or Girl Scout God has called you to be. Always ready. In case of a Bible-reading emergency, put one of these plans to work right away. You won’t even have to break the glass to protect your soul.
Do you have a Bible-reading back-up plan? Share what you do with a comment to help us all grow.