If you made it past two weeks in your commitment to read through the Bible in the new year, congratulations – you are in the minority! Dubbed “Quitter’s Day,” new research has shown that most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by Jan. 12 each year.
Maybe you made it through two weeks, but then you hit Leviticus, and old covenant law and 6 a.m. just didn’t seem compatible. Stalling out on the discipline of daily Bible reading is common. Starting your plan felt great, but discipline has turned to duty, threatening to turn delight into drudgery.
Stalling out on the discipline of daily Bible reading is common. Do not allow the enemy to use a poor start to keep you from finishing well.
Do not fret. You can get back into the Bible. It’s never too late, and here are six ideas to help you:
- Listen – Having trouble with those Bible names and places? Do you find yourself reading without retention? Use the audio feature in a Bible app to hear the Word, which is available in most translations. Many people learn better if they listen rather than read. Personally, I find myself more attentive if I listen while I read, especially during those long lineages in Numbers.
- Join the story already in progress – Have you missed a few days? Just look at the schedule and jump in on the reading for that day. Read for the joy of meeting God, not just to check boxes. You may have missed some key points along the way, but you can pick those up through a study Bible or go back and re-read later.
- Reset – Maybe context is a big thing for you. In that case, just pick up where you left off. You may be behind schedule, but so what? Don’t treat this like a homework assignment. Just keep reading.
- Hit the highlights – George Guthrie has provided an abbreviated plan that follows the chronological plan but with shorter readings to keep you in the story of God. This plan is great for people who are not in the daily habit of reading the Bible. It’s like the “Couch to 5K” of reading plans.
- Set shorter reading goals – Maybe setting a one-year goal was great as a New Year’s resolution, but now that the year has started, reality hit you in the face. Consider setting 90-day reading goals. Setting periodic milestones may keep you going where that Dec. 31 stop date may seem too far out in the future. Will Mancini, author, coach, consultant and founder of Auxano, a vision-framing process, suggests in his blog, “There is something about a 90-day period… that is entwined deeply with the operating system of human beings.”
- Give yourself grace – Above all, please remember why you read the Bible. The goal is for the Bible to get through you, not for you to get through the Bible. I had a friend who got “stuck” on John 17 for a whole year because he sensed that God was teaching him such powerful truths about Jesus, prayer and mission that he did not want to rush through it. You are not reading for achievement, knowledge or ritual. You are reading for transformation. Give yourself permission to listen to the Holy Spirit and camp out on the passages that are comforting, challenging or convicting you.
Everything that brings personal improvement and change requires discipline. The pursuit of life change includes failure. Do not allow the enemy to use a poor start to keep you from finishing well. Take up the Bible and read.