Committing to reading the Bible in a year is an ambitious goal. Here’s how to persevere even when you’ve fallen behind in reading through your yearly Bible plan.
Reading the Bible in a year seems to be a New Year’s goal that is surging in popularity among believers. I jumped on the bandwagon a couple years ago as God began to give me a hunger to study his word more consistently.
Though many of us are drawn to making New Year’s Resolutions, the truth is that many resolutioners get off track just a couple weeks into the New Year.
It’s true that “life happens” and we get busy, distracted, complacent and overwhelmed, using these excuses as justification for not reading our Bibles. Trust me when I say I’ve been there before.
But we have to remember, the enemy is banking on throwing these obstacles in our paths when we commit to reading the Bible consistently, especially reading through it in a year. He seeks to make us question our faith and—just like Eve—he poses the question “Did God really say…?” by contradicting God’s Word.
Did God really say we should read his word? Did God really say that his word helps us stand our ground when evil comes?
Thankfully, we have proof and a constant reminder of what God really did say through the Bible:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17
These verses and others that talk about how the God’s word is the sword of the Spirit that combats evil are just a few examples of why it’s crucial that we not abandon our daily Bible reading.
Even if we fall behind at times.
Even if we feel we don’t have enough time.
Even if we feel far from God.
Even if we feel intimidated by scripture.
Even if we lack motivation and discipline.
I stumbled upon some infographics about Bible reading and found the statistics interesting. According to Crossway’s research, it takes an average of 12 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year. Even if we are taking our time reading the daily passages, taking notes and making connections along the way, most days might take us an average of 30 minutes.
Based on that same research, there are numerous activities that many people do daily that consume 30+ minutes of their time, including email, TV, social media, reading books, housework, hobbies and podcasts.
I’m not sure about you, but that knowledge is very convicting for me. Sure, those activities are fine and some even necessary. But do I treat my time reading the Bible as necessary? Though I have created a consistent habit of Bible reading the past few years, it hasn’t always been that way. In the past, I’ve wrongly prioritized various areas of my life and fallen into the snares of complacency.
But God has shown me who I really am, despite the error of my ways in seeing myself via my own lens. Not only has He reminded me of my need for him, but he’s given me a passionate desire to know him more. As Paul implored the church in Ephesus, I, too, want to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling” (Eph. 4:1).
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.Ephesians 5:15-16
So my prayer is that I continue to prioritize my time spent with God reading his word so that I make the best use of my time. And I pray that he continues to give me a hunger—an insatiable craving—of his word and the desire to share that passion with others.
If you’ve fallen behind in your Bible reading plan, don’t give up. Here are ideas for getting back on track and changing things up to ensure you prioritize daily time in the word.
Continue at Your Own Pace
Reading the Bible in a year shouldn’t be a legalistic venture. We must forgo perceiving our Bible reading plan as a legalistic checkbox and remember that this spiritual discipline is one that encourages relational transformation, not condemnation (Romans 8:1).
Reading our Bibles consistently should spring from the desire for spiritual growth. So if you find yourself behind but are growing and learning on the days you are reading, cut yourself some slack. It’s better to continue at your own pace, knowing that you are taking your time to dig deep, instead of rushing through chapters upon chapters to catch up quickly.
Spend a Weekend Catching Up
If you’re only a handful of readings behind, consider using a weekend to catch up. Most of us have a little more flexibility or downtime on weekends, which offers a chance for us to get back on track. If you find yourself catching up every single weekend, you may want to consider other reading plans that schedule 5 readings a week for this exact reason.
Listen to the Audio Version
One great way to get back on track with your Bible in a year reading plan is to listen to the audio version of the Bible. Many of us women are on the go more than not, and much of our downtime is spent waiting—in the car, in doctor’s offices, at sports practices, in route somewhere, etc.
Even if you’re caught up on your reading, listening to passages helps to cement them in your mind and also offers auditory learners another option for study.
Skip Missed Readings and Move On
If you become overwhelmed by how far you’ve fallen behind, don’t give up. In this life, we are susceptible to hard seasons when our routines are thrown out the window.
Simply skip the readings you miss and start back with a clean slate with your current day’s reading. Once again, no one is watching over your shoulder waiting to scold you if you miss a day, a week or a month.
This tip is especially crucial if you are reading the Bible in a year with a group. Don’t quit the group if you fall behind. Jump back in and even verbalize your recommitment to the group so they can help hold you accountable.
On the topic of accountability, it’s true that it’s easier to finish a task when we are motivated and encouraged by others who are walking alongside us. If you aren’t completing reading the Bible in a Year with a group of believers, seek out your spouse, a best friend or a family member. Give them permission to check in with you every couple weeks to ask how your Bible reading is going.
Change Your Routine
If the spiritual discipline of reading your Bible daily is new for you, it may take time to make it a habit. Maybe you’ve chosen to read your Bible in the morning every day, but weekday mornings are chaotic and you’ve become frustrated with your inconsistency (whether it’s in your control or not).
Instead, try reading at a different time of day, such as nighttime or even on your lunch break. Reading the Bible in a year takes an average of 12 minutes a day. Digging deep and really studying the text exegetically can take two or three times that long, but being in the Word consistently is the first step.
Don’t Give Up Reading the Bible
We all go through dry seasons, busy seasons, sick seasons and circumstances in our lives that feel out of our control. It’s easy to get caught up in our own harried lives and rely on the spiritual sustenance we receive from others such as pastors and Bible teachers.
But God wants us to come to him in all seasons, admitting our failures, shortcomings, self-centeredness and distractions. Our honest admissions prepare our hearts to humbly accept that we can’t do this life alone and remind us of our need for God and his gift of a Savior.