One of the most critical disciples that you can develop for your spiritual growth is the discipline of daily Bible reading. This isn’t the only habit that will facilitate spiritual growth, but it is one of the most foundational. And it’s not as difficult as most people imagine.
As a minister, I spent a lot of years reading the Bible as I was studying for lessons or messages, and assuming that was enough to fill me personally as well. It wasn’t. But I wasn’t mature enough to realize it at the time. And then, I joined in with a couple of other guys to read the Bible daily, and complete it within a year. A whole new level of spiritual growth opened up to me during that year.
I was blown away! I had no idea that I was missing out on some significant growth by not spending time daily with God’s Word, just for my own personal relationship with him. That year opened up my eyes to the realization that I needed to make sure this habit was a non-negotiable part of my life. And while it took some time to get it rooted that deeply, it was well worth every bit of the effort.
Those first years after that realization hit, I managed to read daily most of the time, but not really consistently. So I decided to develop a plan. The Bible Reading Plans that I offer to subscribers here is the culmination of that plan. I created a booklet that contains three different plans to successfully read the entire Bible in a year’s time. Why three? Because I wanted to share this with the teens in my youth ministry, and I knew that not all of them would want to read the Bible the same way I would, or that someone else would. So I incorporated three different plans.
One was simply straightforward, from Genesis to Revelation, throughout the year. The second was a mix, some Old Testament, some New, some of the Gospels, and some from Psalms. The third was more coordinated. It placed passages together that needed to be understood together, or at specific times of the year. For example, when you read of David’s sin with Bathsheba, you would also read Psalm 51 that week, because that is David’s repentance of that sin. Or you would read the Resurrection passages around Easter. And for several years, I renewed this booklet, dating it for that specific year.
What is now a free download to my subscribers is the undated version of that booklet, containing all three plans. The coordinated readings may not match perfectly with the calendar each year, but it’s pretty close most of the time. This was the booklet that I used for probably ten years or more in my personal reading and study of Scripture.
A few years ago, I discovered Professor Grant Horner’s plan of reading the Bible. You can read more about it here, but basically, it divided the Bible into ten different sections, and you read a chapter of each section each day. You still get through the Bible each year completely, but you also read portions of it more often than just once a year. I absolutely love this plan, because it places passages together that you may not read together intentionally, and you get to see the continuity of Scripture across all its pages.
Last year, I got curious. I wondered how long it would take me to read through the Bible from beginning to end if I stuck to the same ten chapters a day that this system used. So I did that, and managed to read through the Bible more than three times in 2017. This year, I’m back to the ten lists.
Frankly, though, the point of this isn’t to see just how much you can read, or how quickly you can read the Bible. The point is simply to read it. And however that works best for you, that’s how you need to do it.
If you would like to have a copy of my Bible Reading Plan booklet, you can get it for free by subscribing to my email list. If you would like to see the Professor Grant Horner plan in more detail, you can find it here. But if you have a plan that you like and you use, then by all means, use it.
Here are four reasons why reading the Bible every day is beneficial for your spiritual growth.
Reading the Bible daily feeds you.
When you read the Bible, God provides spiritual food for your growth and maturity. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus stated that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” This idea is consistent across the rest of the New Testament as well, in passages such as 1 Peter 2:2, where Peter encourages his readers to “long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”
God’s Word provides the spiritual nutrition that our lives need, in much the same way that physical food supplies our physical bodies. Without it, our spiritual natures can become weak and open to temptations from the enemy. Reading the Bible daily provides the spiritual nourishment that we need.
Reading the Bible daily directs you.
Scriptures guide us and provides direction for our lives. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” When we spend time in God’s word daily, it can show us how to live, and how to make the decisions that best reflect God’s sovereignty in our lives. And it can point out the wrong direction when we make decisions that aren’t right. In essence, God’s Word is like compass that helps us maintain our course and keeps us pointed in the right direction.
Reading the Bible daily strengthens you.
The need to stand strong is critical in the shifting winds of our culture and fallen world. Spending time daily in God’s word can strengthen our convictions to hold on to what is right and not give in to the world’s ways. Philippians 4:8-9 tells us how we can do this, when Paul says, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” And in Psalm 119:28, we see David seeking strength by asking God, “Strengthen me according to Your word.”
Reading the Bible daily leads to salvation.
Many of you have probably already made the decision to make Jesus Lord of your life. And you probably did that in response to hearing the message of the Gospel from another person, perhaps a minister, or maybe a friend. But the way of salvation is clearly laid out in the pages of Scripture, and that is the message that was shared with you by that other person. Consider what Paul said in Romans 1, where he wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Or later, in 10:17, where he stated that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Peter echos this thought when he states that “you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” God’s Word is life giving and leads us to salvation.
This is clearly not an exhaustive list of the benefits of reading God’s Word on a daily basis. But these are a few of the key reasons why I believe it is a critical habit to form in our lives. Without this discipline, we simply can’t grow in our faith and maturity as believers. I encourage you to grab your Bible, and set aside a part of your day to spend some time there. If you read through the entire Bible in 2018, great! If you make it through the New Testament, that’s great too! And if you only read portions here and there, that’s fine as well. Just read!
And if you need some encouragement, feel free to reach out to me, or to others in your life. One of the roles of the church is to build one another up and help one another. Don’t be afraid to seek out help and encouragement when you need it. And be willing to encourage others as you see this habit begin to grow. My guess is that it will begin to naturally pour out of you into the lives of people around you, and they will be impacted as well.
And, if you have found a plan that works great for you, please share it here. Perhaps it is just what someone else needs to use as well.
My prayer is that you find a lot of nourishment and encouragement from reading Scripture this year. May 2018 be your greatest year yet!
Question: Do you have a plan for reading the Bible this year? If so, what is it? If not, what can you do to devise a strategy to accomplish this? You can leave a comment by clicking here.