Last week, I wrote about how I struggled for years to carve a quiet time for devotional / Bible reading and prayer. I think I’ve finally figured out a formula that works for me, and I’ve been going strong with daily quiet time for two months now. Last week’s post went over how to choose a time and a spot for your quiet time. Read more about it here. Today, we’ll go over the final three components:
- Choose a Bible format
- Choose a reading plan
- Choose motivation/accountability
Choose a Bible Format
How do you plan to read the scripture? I do think there’s something to be said for reading the actual, physical Bible versus electronically. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m so easily distracted by other apps, notifications, etc. on my tablet & phone. If electronic is your preference, just make it a point to put your device in airplane mode.
Sometimes I get a little lost in the scripture. What exactly does something mean, or what is this passage really saying? Reading from the Life Application Study Bible largely solves this problem. I have the NIV version of this Life Application Study Bible. It’s a really gorgeous Bible (thanks, Mom!). And here’s a less expensive option.
Life Application Study Bibles have some great features:
- Each book of the Bible has an introduction with an overview, key people, places, themes, and timeline
- Each page has notes on various verses, ranging from explanations of a verse to historical context to how to apply the scripture to your life
- Maps are scattered throughout as needed, which makes the events easier to visualize
- Profiles of major figures are included in the books where they’re prominent
Also, consider which translation you prefer. I personally like the NIV, but there are many others to consider. The New Living Translation and the Message are both a bit easier to read with more modern language. Take a look at this chart for other translations and a brief description.
Choose a Reading Plan
What piques your interest? What gets you most excited about reading the Bible? Starting with what excites you will keep you motivated until it’s become a habit.
I was most interested in reading the Bible chronologically. I’ve jumped around the Bible so much through various studies over the years that I couldn’t really tell you the order of events, especially in the Old Testament. So I was excited to read the Bible in this new order.
I chose this great plan that’s a 2 page printable. It’s broken into weeks, so that you can read the Bible in one year. The first week eases you into the plan, with 2-3 chapters listed per day (most days after that have at least 4 chapters per day). I generally find it tough to do 4+ chapters each day, not to mention that reading all of the notes in the Life Application Study Bible adds to the total amount of reading. So I’m taking this plan at my own pace and hoping that I’ll finish Revelation in about 1.5 years.
Here are some other great printable plans. This “4+1 Plan” includes four books of the Bible plus one Psalm every day, so you get Old and New Testament readings each day.
Please do not get discouraged if you don’t read all of the scriptures for each day on your plan! Like I mentioned, I’m taking my plan at my own pace, generally reading 2-3 chapters each day. Any progress is great! Mark it off and feel good about the time you’re spending in the word!
If you just want to read straight through the Bible or choose the order in which you read the books, one of these great printables can help track your progress. The plan below (from Ligonier) is an eye-pleasing rainbow of colors.
And this simple and sleek listing is another option, especially if you’re a fan of yellow highlighters like I am.
Choose Motivation / Accountability
Two months into my reading plan, I’m really enjoying having quiet time, gaining Biblical knowledge, and developing a closer relationship with God. That’s a lot of motivation right there!
To be sure you keep it up, it can be good to have another form or two of motivation and accountability. Another motivation to me is highlighting the reading I complete each day. It gives my type-A personality the feeling of checking something off a list, and I love to see the amount of yellow highlighting growing each day. It’s a visual reminder of how far I’ve come, since I can’t just look at the bookmark in my Bible due to the chronological order.
Accountability is also important. When I decided to embark on this plan, I told a couple of the women in my Advent study group. And now I’m telling everyone reading this, so please hold me accountable as well! Choose a friend or two to ask about your progress and encourage you periodically. It can really make a difference!
I truly enjoyed reading through Genesis, and I’ve now finished Job and Exodus as well. You can do this too! Whether you’re struggling with a busy work schedule or are taking care of small children all day, there are always 20 minutes that can be carved out. I encourage you to experiment with finding a quiet time and spot that work for you and make yourself and your relationship with God a priority.
Have you read the whole Bible? What quiet time methods have worked for you?