As we begin a New Year, we have a chance to think about our hopes, dreams and goals for the future. For many this is just a superficial set of “resolutions” that last only for a couple of days. But for others, it is a serious attempt to make changes. For example, the folks at my local YMCA report that memberships usually spike during the first of the year.  For many Christians, it is an opportunity to make a renewed effort to read the Bible in its entirety by reading through the whole Bible in one calendar year. I have been doing this off and on for most of my Christian life and I believe it is a great discipline to practice.  My average as an adult is to read the Bible through at least once every three or four years. The last time I did it was in 2011 just after my wife had gone home to be with the Lord in 2010. I read her Bible cover to cover and it was a wonderful blessing for me at many levels. I am sensing the need to do it again in 2013. This time I plan to read The New English Version to get a different perspective than my standard Bible.  I would like to share with you at least five advantages to such a reading plan.

First, you get to read every verse in the Bible at least once. Sure, there is nothing magical in being able to claim that you have read every word in the book of Numbers, but on the other hand, if we claim to cherish the Bible as God’s Word, it seems that somewhere in our Christian development, we ought to at least read every word some time in our life.  In this age of Biblical illiteracy, our knowledge of God’s Word should go beyond just a few pet passages.

Related to this is the second benefit. When you read the whole Bible, you get a sense of God’s big story – the way he chose to record it for history. The Bible does tell one grand story and if we don’t read it, we risk missing what the story is all about. Reading the whole story can also protect us from extracting our own pet passages apart from where God purposely chose to put them in his story. In other words, I believe merely reading the bible cover to cover can help us interpret the details more accurately.

The third and fourth benefits are more practical.  The third benefit is that regular Bible reading can establish a good habit. If I read the Bible every day for a year, chances are I will get used to reading on a regular basis and then the following year, that space and time is already reserved for Bible reading. In other words I am developing good habits.

The fourth benefit is that it provides structure to my Bible reading. Having a plan of what I am going to read ahead of time takes away the stress of trying to figure out what to read each day. If we are not engaged in a book study (another great way to study the Bible), then we have to decide each day what to read.

The final benefit is related to all the others. In our day, there are all kinds of helps available to keep us on task, plan out our reading, and even remind us to read (for example having scripture sent to our email or cell phone). My favorite tool is the two-volume set For The Love of God by Don Carson which takes the reader through the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice during the year.

Whatever tool you use or how you do it, what Bible reading resolutions do you have for 2013?

Bryan Maier, Psy. D.,  is an Associate Professor of Counseling & Psychology in the Masters of Arts in Counseling Program at Biblical. He maintains a private practice at Diane Langberg & Associates.


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