By Aaron Earls
Along with starting new diets or exercise habits, many Christians use the New Year to make commitments about reading the Bible.
But just as the gyms become emptier by March and the junk food returns to the cabinets, people often struggle to keep up their Bible reading plans.
That doesn’t mean we should give up, though. Bible reading is vital to our growth as Christians and our relationship with Christ.
Lifeway Research found regularly reading the Bible while growing up is the best predictor of whether a child becomes a practicing Christian as an adult. A previous Lifeway Research study also found reading the Bible is the number one indicator of spiritual growth.
It’s why Lifeway has developed a special website — Lifeway.com/ReadTheBible — to help Christians recognize the value of Scripture reading and get even more out of their time in the Bible.
Here are five tips to think through your Bible reading this year.
Do more than last year — Evaluate the time you spent in God’s Word last year.
How much did you read each day? How consistent were you? Did you have time to meditate on what you read? What verses did you commit to memory? Seek to improve this year.
Bible reading is a bit like exercising — you grow only if you continually push yourself. Be ambitious as you plan your Bible reading this year.
Find a plan that works — While you’re looking to do more than last year, don’t make outrageous commitments that will be virtually impossible to keep.
Getting up at 4 a.m. every day to spend two hours in silent study of the Bible is a lofty goal, but if your life doesn’t allow you to get to sleep until 11 p.m., you might not make it for very long.
Look for a reading plan that will push you, but that you can reasonably do. You want to be stretched by the commitment, not broken by it.
Involve others — The lack of accountability dooms many of our commitments before they start. This includes our plans to read the Bible.
Ask a friend to start a plan with you. Pick one out with your spouse. Talk to your kids about doing one together as a family.
This will not only increase the likelihood you all stick with the plan but also encourage you to have conversations about what you’ve read.
Weave it into your prayer life — Don’t keep your Bible reading removed from your prayers. Pray as you read the Bible and read the Bible as you pray.
As you read through passages of Scripture, stop and pray over what you’ve read. Find specific points of application for your life and ways you can be in prayer for others.
When you pray, quote verses to God. Use your reading to help you pray more biblically.
Prepare for stumbles — It’s going to happen. You sleep late and miss a day of reading. Or you hit that Leviticus wall during your plan to read the Bible through in a year.
For most of us, there will be a day when we don’t spend the time in God’s Word that we’d like. The real test comes after that moment.
We can let that derail us or we can be prepared for those moments and move forward. If you can, catch up with the plan on a light reading day.
If that’s not an option, just move forward on the plan and continue encountering God through His Word for the rest of the year. You will get no less out of finishing a yearlong reading plan on a random Tuesday in February than you do finishing it on December 31.
The point is God’s presence, not your plan. Find ways to get into His Word this year.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.