Last month I posted my 90 Day Bible Reading Plan here on the blog. What started out as a 2021 project I was sure I’d push through with flying colors has turned into a test of discipline and faith. It doesn’t surprise me but I also wasn’t necessarily writing a contingency list. I have fallen extremely behind my schedule; worse than I expected. I have yet to read the Bible all the way through and historically, when I fall behind in a reading plan, I lose momentum and drive and just give up.
Not this year. This year, I’ve got a whole different mindset around reading the Bible this year. And while I may not finish in exactly 90 days, I’m totally okay with that.
Maybe you’re aiming to reading the entire Bible this year too, whether it’s 90 days, 3 months, or the entire year. Whatever the time frame, I’m assuming that you may be struggling with staying on schedule. Don’t worry, it happens to all of us. Today, I thought I’d share a few things to keep in mind when you fall behind in a Bible reading plan.
REMEMBER It Is Not a Competition
Reading the Bible isn’t a competition. No body is keeping track or score. It’s not something we do to earn a trophy at the end. It’s definitely not something we pursue in order to one-up on someone else. Even if you’re reading in some kind of group or community setting, reading the Bible is not a race to the finish line. Reading the Bible is a gift, a privilege, delight, and a spiritual discipline. If you’re falling behind in your reading plan and you’re putting competitive pressure on yourself to “win”, you’re in danger of putting the wrong emphases on the experience. Don’t miss out on what’s important in this experience.
Now, if you are the competitive type, then treating your plan as a challenge you do in a community might be a healthy spin. This way, you’re thinking of your group as a team. You can encourage and motivate one another to stay the course and not give up! That is edifying and helpful and builds up the body. But treating it as a competition whether in real life or just in your head is not healthy and puts things in the wrong perspective.
REMEMBER IT DOES not MAKE YOU HOLIER
Reading the Bible in a specific time frame doesn’t in and of itself make you holier. There are plenty of non-believers who have read the Bible for reasons other than developing a relationship with Jesus. It’s not reading the of the Bible that changes us but rather the work we allow the Holy Spirit to do in our hearts when we read the Bible that changes us. Simply reading the Bible to check it off your to-do list isn’t necessarily going to impact your life.
If you’re falling behind and losing motivation to continue then I encourage you to check your heart and motive. Are you doing this so you can gain extra credit points with God or look good in front of your church or peers? Scratch that and go back to the drawing board. God doesn’t simply want us to do “good things”, He wants to change our hearts. You have to give space for the Holy Spirit to light a spark in your soul. That’s when your paradigm shifts and your heart starts to transform. Don’t think that just because you read your Bible in a year, you earn sanctification points. Allow God to change you no matter how long it takes you to read His word and see what kind of story you can tell from your experience.
REMEMBER It’s Not For Every Season
One of the reasons I chose to read the Bible in 90 days is because I felt that it made sense in the season I’m in. But even as I try and finish in 90 days, I’m making room for the possibility that God has other things for me to do with my time than reading over 15 chapters of scripture on a given day (it has actually happened!). And if that’s the case, I’m content to go longer than my original plan. Not every reading plan is for every season of life.
Who knows what my next life season will look like? Maybe the next time I read the Bible all the way through, a 2-year plan will make more sense. Or maybe I read 5 days a week instead of 7. Maybe I focus on getting through only one of the Testaments in a 365 day cycle. Pay attention to the season you’re in. Don’t pressure yourself into a plan that doesn’t fit your life right now. It’s okay if you have to do something different than your friends or the people you follow online. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all project. If you’re falling behind, maybe your plan isn’t for your current season.
REMEMBER YOU CAN CHANGE IT UP
If you’re falling behind in your plan, remember you don’t have to stick with the same approach you started with. You’re allowed to switch to a different version. Go from reading the text on the page to listening to an audio version. You can switch to a plan that has you reading in a different order. Don’t get stuck in a ritual or plan that isn’t working for you.
REMEMBER THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN READING AND STUDYING
I’ve talked about this before on a YouTube video and here on the blog – there is a difference between reading the Bible and studying the Bible. Personally, I’m not studying the Bible in 90 days, I’m reading it in 90 days. There’s no way I can do effective Bible study in that time frame so I don’t pressure myself to do so. If you’re falling behind in your Bible reading plan, make sure you’re setting up the correct expectations for yourself to either read or study. You might not be able to do both. Let your life season and the plan you’ve chosen determine which one you’re focusing on if you have to chose. Both activities serve specific areas of our spiritual growth, just be intentional about which one you want to do.
I’m not sure how the rest of my 90 days in the Word are going to shape up but I’m not stressing it. If I go over my time frame, I’ll know that God needed some of my focus elsewhere. If I do somehow catch up and meet my goal, I’ll know that the discipline to show up, however imperfectly, is it’s own reward and I will have learned lessons in faithfulness and diligence (two things my soul needs to learn right now).
If you’re reading the entire Bible this year, I hope that you keep the right perspective and don’t pressure yourself incorrectly. I hope that the Bible is a delight to you and not a burden and that you grow closer to the heart of Jesus as you read His Word!
Grace and Peace