Sometimes there are posts I’m hesitant to write because I fear how they might be misconstrued. Believe me, it isn’t hard to write something one way and have readers take it quite another.
And never… I mean NEVER would I want to do anything to upset good, established devotional habits, or to say anything that might imply that I think a structured Bible reading plan is a bad idea. It isn’t. I know many churches and church groups that annually distribute Bible reading schedules. And I know well that many people like and even need the structure of a set Bible reading chart.
I am also a die-hard advocate of daily Bible reading and study in the life of a believer. Time spent in God’s word is essential to proper growth and I believe all scripture is inspired by God and “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
But I have to confess I’m not a big advocate of the Read Your Bible Through in a Year concept.
Now if this was something I’d never done, I don’t know that I would try to offer an opinion on it. But I have done it. In fact, I did it for several years, which is exactly what brought me to realize it wasn’t the best way for me (personally) to read my Bible. And I share this only because I’m sure there are others who have struggled with it as well, and it can really do much to discourage a person in their personal devotions, particularly if they keep feeling like they aren’t reading the Bible the “right way” or reading it enough just because they can’t seem to read Genesis to Revelation in the course of one year. Sadly, when people get discouraged in something they’re doing, they often QUIT IT altogether. And what could be worse than that?
Trying to read my Bible through yearly often rushed my reading
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a slow reader. Not a poor reader, mind you, but definitely a slow one. It takes me time to digest the things I read and when I rush, I don’t comprehend.
Most Bible charts are set up to require anywhere from 3-6 chapters of Bible reading per day. Depending on the subject matter or the length of the chapters, that was sometimes completely overwhelming for me. Even before I was a wife and a mom there were many days I found it very difficult to get through four or five chapters without skimming, WHICH IS NOT READING. And Lord forbid I miss a day and then had EIGHT chapters to read in order to catch up! Needless to say, I didn’t end up comprehending most of that reading.
It made it harder to spend adequate time in Bible study
It makes no sense to me to merely read over things I don’t understand in the Bible, or to ignore my own curiosity about a person, place, or even a word in the scripture that I could very easily study further. All of that is part of the process of learning from and applying the scripture to my life. If we can’t take the time to learn from what we’re reading, how can we have full understanding of the Bible and how can it really impact our lives?
When I was trying to get four or more chapters read every day, I was less inclined to stop and study something out when I had a question or an interest. Reading less per day gives me the time to check what a commentary has to say about a verse, to read it in multiple translations, or to look up a word in the original Greek and study every place it appears in scripture. When I can take the time to do those things, I can learn so much more.
It placed equal emphasis on Old Testament geneaologies and New Testament passages vital to Christian doctrine
Don’t get me wrong: I believe the scripture I quoted earlier, the first part of which says, “ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable.” But there was something a little unbalanced to me about focusing the same amount of time on 1 Chronicles 9 as on Romans 5. Some areas of the Bible need more time from us than a once-a-year reading.
A couple of years ago I felt compelled to read the book of Romans not once, but over and over again until I lost count of the times I had read it consecutively. But I learned so much from focusing that time on a book that is cram-packed with essential Christian doctrine. I read in other places as well, but Romans was where I centered my attention and that time of study was wonderful for me. Had I been committed to a Read Your Bible Through in a Year plan, that might have been harder for me to do.
Reading, studying, and fully comprehending ONE chapter was better for me than skimming SIX
While I strongly encourage every Christian to read their Bibles as much and as often as they can, more may not always be better. Though I would never want to give someone an excuse for reading their Bibles less, if having to read four chapters makes you more inclined to not read at all, then obviously you’re better off reading less.
I’m amazed sometimes at the lifelong Christians I know who have never developed a daily habit of Bible reading. To me, it makes far more sense to encourage them to read one chapter a day or even less, rather than push them toward four or five! Once the habit is developed, then the amount can be increased, but until then, I don’t think it’s wrong to start out small.