Engagement with the Bible is the number one factor that determines spiritual growth for believers. I know that to be the case because we studied it. In the Transformational Discipleship project, LifeWay Research discovered that engaging with the Scriptures continues to be the number one factor for our growth. In an article on the subject, they wrote:
When asked how often they personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible, a similar number respond “Every Day” (19 percent) as respond “Rarely/Never” (18 percent). A quarter indicate they read the Bible a few times a week. Fourteen percent say they read the Bible “Once a Week” and another 22 percent say “Once a Month” or “A Few Times a Month.”
Did you catch that? Only 19% of Protestants attending church report that they read the Bible daily. We must seek a better way.
To do so, we all need a strategy for studying the Bible. I believe that there are numerous methods of studying the Bible with simple reading being one such way. Other study methods include memorization, public reading in worship, group study, and the list can go on. But, for the moment, let’s focus on a few ideas for simple Bible reading.
- You need a plan for accountability. Without a plan, we are prone to wander, forget, and/or not hold ourselves accountable. It should have leeway for how God is working in your life but regular reading of the Bible needs to be a priority. A plan will help out.
- The plan must be for delight, and not duty. Our plan should be a helpful guide that points us to Christ. The plan is not an end to itself that becomes a burden. After all, we are seeking the Christ who grants freedom, not the false gods that only hand out legalism.
- It should stretch your reach. We all have familiar places that we often visit in the pages of scripture. Without a plan, it is normal to reread those books of the Bible. A plan will guide you to read the unfamiliar parts of the Bible.
- Give you the whole counsel of God. Continuing the above thought, some reading plans will carry you through the whole Bible. As we believe the Bible is God’s self-revelation to us, we need all of it. Even the passages that are difficult to understand. As God’s Word is His infallible revelation to us, we need to consume all of it.
- Plans can vary your reading for seasons of life. If you are in a season where God is calling you into a new mission, perhaps a reading of Acts or the Old Testament prophets is needed. But, if your stage of life is filled with grief, then time in the Psalms will ease your soul. A Bible reading plan focuses you on how God works in a specific season of life.
- We all need accountability. Whether it is a printed out reading plan or a notification that pops up on your smart phone, we need reminders. They prompt us in our priorities when every day will hold at least 3,741 distractions.
- Study plans come in all shapes and sizes. I do not think there is a one-size-fits-all plan that works. At times, an entire church will engage in a Bible reading plan and it is healthy to do so. But, as we are all different, we need different plans. You can read the entire Bible in a year if you read three chapters a day. You can read the whole Bible in three months if you read 13 chapters per day. Proverbs can be read in a 31-day month by reading one chapter each day. The four Gospels contain 89 chapters and can easily be read in a month’s time with three chapters a day. The Bible can be read in order of books, by types of books, in chronological order, or in a myriad of other ways.
Ultimately, we discipline ourselves to read the Bible because it is the great Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) that God uses to reveal Himself and conform us to the image of Christ. Reading it is the spiritual endeavor to know Him, seek His ways, and understand ourselves better. It is a primary habit for our holiness.