As the new year approaches, many of us will start making plans and setting goals. We’re ready to put all the unachieved ambitions of the previous year behind us–to start fresh with renewed resolve. And, for Christians, here’s a goal that often tops the list: “This year, I’m going to read my Bible.”
But we all know how that story goes. We print off our reading plan, start January 1st, get behind by January 5th, and give up altogether mid-March.
Reading the Bible is one of the best habits we can cultivate. God has promised to nourish us by his Word–Scripture shows us God’s character, equips us in our fight against sin (Ps 119:20), makes us more like Jesus (John 17:17), convicts us (Heb 4:12), and comforts us (Ps 107:20). Most of all, this life-giving Word reveals God’s love for us in Christ, the Word made flesh (John 1:14).
Despite all these glorious promises attached to Scripture, we still often struggle to persevere in reading it for at least three reasons:
#1: We don’t get it.
The Bible is a difficult book! It’s hard to persevere in reading something we don’t always understand. The Bible contains difficult and complex passages of Scripture, but you don’t need to understand everything the first time. This is the beauty of building a habit of Bible reading: Like a piece of great literature, the Bible has layers of complexity that can be read and reread, each time leading to new insights and understanding. As you become a more experienced Bible reader, you will continue to grow in your understanding.
#2: We don’t feel it.
Though we know reading our Bibles is supposed to help us know and love God more, making us comforted and aware of his presence, many days our reading feels dry and detached. But God is faithful! He’s at work even when we can’t see it–or feel it. It helps to begin our Bible reading with prayer, asking God to open our hearts to receive what Scripture teaches, to enjoy his presence while reading, and to gain insight and understanding into his grace and mercy. But we should also end our time in prayer, and sometimes that prayer sounds like, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Reading the Bible is an act of faith. As we read, we trust that God will use his Word to accomplish his purposes in us (Isaiah 55:11).
#3: We don’t fit it in.
Reading the Bible regularly requires discipline, but our ambitions often fall short of becoming habits because we don’t start small, and we don’t make room in our lives to grow in consistency. It takes planning and work to begin a new habit. The more details, reminders, and accountability we set up for ourselves, the more successful we’ll be. Try making a plan, such as, “I’ll listen to an audio Bible on my work commute,” or “I’ll read for the first ten minutes of my lunch break.” Try setting reminders, like an alarm on your phone at the same time every day. And try asking for help: Invite a friend to do the same reading plan and schedule a call each week to check in and talk about what you read.
Sometimes we struggle with consistency because we’ve convinced ourselves, often unknowingly, that reading our Bibles earns us favor with God. When we miss a day, we feel ashamed of our failures, certain God is disappointed in us. But Christ has already secured God’s favor on our behalf. We don’t read our Bibles to prove our worthiness to God; we read our Bibles to be reminded day in and day out of God’s kindness to us in Christ. When you miss a day, you can lift your head, trusting there is no condemnation left for you (Rom. 8:1).
A Beginner’s Bible Reading Plan
This year, the team at Core Christianity has designed a Beginner’s Bible Reading Plan to help you develop a habit of reading Scripture faithfully in 2021. With scheduled readings of less than ten minutes per day, this plan samples every genre of Scripture. You’ll be introduced to the big narrative and grand themes of the Bible. Whether you’re brand new to God’s Word or a seasoned Christian who’s lost your joy in reading Scripture, this plan is designed to help you develop a sustainable habit of reading the Bible for one whole year.
We hope you’ll join us in reading the Bible in 2021 so that, over time, you will grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.