I am reprinting a few posts that I wrote four years ago during an extended stay at the Cleveland Clinic. The trip involved a helicopter ride, a heart attack, a week in a coma and 6 weeks learning to walk. Many of you know the story and those that don’t can read about it here. Toward the end of the process, I began writing about the experience and this time of year I go back and revisit those posts. I am sharing a few posts from those days that have been helpful to me and others.
So far, I have talked about the importance or praying before the trouble starts and about developing a simple plan for daily prayer. Today, a simple plan for daily Bible reading.
You may have tried reading the Bible from front to back. Genesis and Exodus are exciting, but you fell asleep in Leviticus and gave up in Numbers. You’re not alone and not without hope.
I recommend that folks try a daily reading plan where they read the Bible in a year. That way, you are getting regular input from the Bible and you get to see God’s big picture. You also aren’t just picking and choosing the good parts and avoiding the parts that make you uncomfortable. I have done it for over 15 years now and it stays fresh. I am always seeing something new.
Start by finding a Bible that is designed for annual reading, like the One Year Bible or find a reading plan that breaks it down for you. I use the Olive Tree Bible app on my iPad and they have a host of reading plans you can select. My preference is a plan where I am reading through the Bible chronologically with readings from the Old and New Testament each day. There are many choices available to you.
Begin your Bible reading time with prayer, either as part of your devotional time or just ask God to open His word to you as you read it and make you sensitive to what He wants you to learn. You will begin to see that God uses the regular input that you are receiving to shape your life and attitude for the better. Paul calls it a “transforming” of the mind as we see life from God’s perspective and not our own.
The purpose for this time is to get regular Bible input that gives God the raw material to build positive change in your life. As you read, you will have questions or ideas that you want to look into. Keep a Bible reading journal (it could be part of your prayer journal if you have one) where you write down topics, questions, and ideas that you would like to investigate more deeply.
For the purposes of your daily reading, focus on what the Bible passage is saying and ask how it applies to you. What truths can you apply to your life? Does the passage identify sin that you need to confess? Maybe it will give you direction in a problem that you are trying to solve. Nothing jumps out at you today? No problem, just stick with it. The more you read the more it will begin to apply. My physical therapist told me that the work I did one week would begin to show next week. Bible reading is a similar cumulative process. Give it time to build up.
It seems like Bible reading should be more complicated, but it isn’t. It is a matter of discipline to read the Bible daily. If you will do it, you will see the result in your life. You can’t read the Bible daily and not be changed by it.
Now you have the two basic tools for spiritual growth and preparedness: prayer and Bible reading. There’s more and I will talk about it in future posts. If you are doing these two things, leave a comment with your approach and suggestions. If you’re not, why not start today?