At the start of each year, I revisit my personal Bible reading strategy. I have the kind of personality that prefers things to be planned and structured so I’ve found the best way for me to keep Bible reading on the agenda is to use some kind of formal reading plan during the year. But I know that for others, who prefer to keep things more spontaneous and flexible, Bible reading plans can feel a bit rigid or contrived. I have learned that there is room for a variety of approaches when it comes to personal Bible reading and other spiritual disciplines. By God’s grace, we don’t all think and process in the same way, so it’s important to work out what’s most helpful for us personally.
Some people begin every day with Bible reading – it’s the first thing they do – while for others, the idea of reading anything before a piece of toast and a double espresso is inconceivable! Some people like to use devotional material alongside the Bible, or listen to an audio version of the Bible, or they find it helpful to read and discuss the Bible with another person. These are all great strategies that we can use to keep storing God’s word up in our hearts (Ps. 119:11). We never want to become legalistic or so rigid in our approach that we lose sight of the fact that God’s word is a precious gift for our benefit and blessing (Ps. 1:1-2). Bible reading is not meant to be a burden!
That being said, each one of us, in our own way, still has to come to terms with the fact that Bible reading is a discipline. It’s a discipline because no matter what approach we end up taking it will require intentionality and effort. The blessing that God promises to those who commit to soaking in His word day and night is absolutely there for the taking, but it demands that we apply ourselves seriously to the task. So in 2016, let’s not settle for the ‘low-bar’ when it comes to our Bible reading. Let’s aim high (really high!) while still being gracious encouragers of each other as we grow together in our understanding of what it means to live the blessed life in Jesus Christ.
Note: You may wish to talk with your gathering pastor about strategies for personal Bible reading.
Shane Ellery (Associate Minister, Youth and Young Adults)