How to Choose and Stick with a Reading Plan
Dozens of options. I scrolled down the page wondering “how in the world am I supposed to choose one?”
It was the first week of January and I was looking for a new Bible reading plan. I wanted something different from what I used for the past couple of years. And someone recommended I check this website for options.
It definitely had options! Chronological, 90 days, 6 months, 1 year, the list went on.
Part of the struggle of choosing a Bible reading plan is deciding what we want to read that year. The other part of the struggle is the looming fear that we might not be able to keep on track and that we might not complete the plan we choose.
How do we pick a Bible reading plan? And once we’ve chosen, how can we set ourselves up to successfully finish it by December 31st?
How to Choose a Plan
1. First, determine your goals
Is your goal to read through the entire Bible? Then you want to look for a plan that covers every chapter of the Bible in one year. Some good options are a chronological reading or a plan that reads straight through Genesis to Revelation.
Is your goal to simply develop a habit of reading the word daily? If so, I’d suggest starting small by reading only one or two chapters a day. A great plan to start with would focus on the narrative story of scripture, skipping over the hard-to-read sections like genealogies and levitical laws.
Is your goal deeper study? You might look for a plan that gives you time to slow down. Something that takes you through the Pauline epistles, or the wisdom books.
Our goals will inform what type of plan we choose.
2. Next, what time do you have available?
A thriving relationship with the Lord doesn’t require us to spend 2 hours a day reading scripture. Meditating on the Word of God is vital to our relationship with Jesus and we must prioritize reading it. But we can also be honest with the limited time we might have.
Make sure your goals are realistic for the time you have available. If you only have ten minutes a day to read, you likely won’t be able to make it through the whole Bible in 6 months. But if you plan to listen to an audio Bible during your 40-minute commute to work, 6 months might be a realistic timeline!
How to set yourself up for success
1. Think about your why?
Research on goal setting says that we are much more likely to complete our goals if they are connected to a why that is important to us. Take some time to remind yourself of your deeper why or think through this for the first time.
Why is reading the Bible important to you? What will the benefit be? What will the cost be if you don’t complete your plan?
Biblically, our why for reading the Bible should be to grow in our intimacy with Jesus Christ. Any other why will set us up for burnout and failure. Bible reading plans are only tools to help us know Jesus better.
When December 2023 comes, if you don’t have all the dates crossed off your plan but you do have a deeper love for Jesus and you know Him better than you did in January, you didn’t fail. You accomplished your deeper goal.
2. Consider getting rid of the dates on your plan.
I’ve had seasons where I wanted to read the whole Bible in a short period of time. To accomplish this I had to divide up my reading by date so I could get through it. These seasons grew my knowledge of the Word and my spiritual discipline in incredible ways. However, I’ve discovered that I enjoy reading my Bible much more when I get rid of the schedule. My goal is to enjoy God’s word and love Him more. So, I mostly don’t worry about the dates, I just use the plan to show me what I read next. Depending on how much time I have and how deep I want to go into my study, some days I read one chapter, and sometimes I read seven.
For those of us who easily fall into perfectionism and rule-keeping, getting rid of your schedule might help you find freedom and enjoy Bible reading, as it removes the feeling of “failure.”
3. Read with someone else
I absolutely love reading the same thing in my Bible as a friend or family member. When we do things with friends, we’re much more likely to stick with them. But secondly, and more importantly, I find this helps me think deeply about what I’m reading because I can talk about it and wrestle through the tough topics with someone else.
Consider recruiting a friend or family member who would read through the Bible with you this year!
4. Use your initial motivation boost to set yourself up for success.
When we start a new habit or set a new goal, we experience an initial boost of energy with the excitement of starting something new. But as we’ve all experienced, that energy quickly wears off.
Use this excitement to set yourself up for success by making it easy to keep reading your Bible. For example, if your phone has been a major distraction, use your starting energy to buy a digital alarm clock and set up a charging station for your phone outside of your bedroom and away from your quiet time space. That way, when you wake up you won’t be immediately tempted to check social media.
Set up your quiet time space so it’s easy to sit down and grab your Bible. Buy any supplies you want (pens, journals, coffee mug). Or download an audio Bible and install a productivity blocker app on your phone.
May the Lord give you a deeper hunger for Jesus and His word this year, and may He fulfill that hunger as you read the Bible!
Katie Gutierrez loves an urban cafe as much as the smell of campfire and pine. Works in communications while studying business and non-fiction writing, and is most happy when leading worship and discipling others.