The main principle of reading Scripture for a lifetime of spiritual growth is: Just read it. Don’t spend too much time looking for the “just right” study Bible, or other helps. Don’t neglect reading Scripture because you are in a period when you are having a hard time understanding it. And don’t slow down because you have not found a plan that is right for you. Put your hook in the water. Something will happen.
Here are some guidelines for a lifestyle of fruitful Bible reading.
- Follow a plan, but vary the plan year by year. . .BibleGateway is a good place to find a wide variety of plans.
- Do not give up. If you start a reading plan in January and falter in March, getting hopelessly behind the plan, just choose another plan for the year. Keep your hook in the water. If all else fails, just read a chapter a day. Consider a day incomplete unless you read something in Scripture.
- Use a simple tool for a schedule. I like printing out a plan on a single sheet of paper and having it tucked in the back of my Bible. You can use an online scheduling function on your computer or mobile device, but make sure it is a function that is easy to use and easy to access.
- Decide whether you will make notes or not. Writing your thoughts and questions down as you read helps with comprehension, and many people do it faithfully. I have generally preferred not doing that, however, because I know I will keep reading every day if it is just me and the Bible in my hand. . .You should figure out what works best for you. If taking notes does not bog you down, do it. You will have an accumulating treasure.
- Know the time of day that is best for you, and set a pattern. This is really important. Lifestyle is about regularity. Most people eat and sleep on a preferred pattern that works for them. So it is with reading Scripture as a lifestyle.
- Read introductions to Bible books. If you’ve gotten through Numbers and are ready to dive into Deuteronomy, don’t just plow ahead. Take a few minutes to read an introduction which will orient you to the context, circumstances, date, themes, and author of what you are about to read. Study Bibles, for instance, have concise introductions that are no more than a page. . .
- Allow time for reflection. In today’s hectic world this gets squeezed out, but it is essential. This may mean shutting your Bible, closing your eyes for five minutes and thinking about what you’re read, speaking to God a word of thanks or frustration or inquiry...If there is a single verse, or even just a phrase or a single word, that strikes you powerfully, take some time to ponder it. God the Holy Spirit may be placing a marker in your mind which will be important at some later point in your life. Commit to this; read and reflect.