Letting Go of Bible Reading Expectations

What’s the best daily Bible reading plan? The one that works for you.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve attempted multiple times to read my Bible every day. Many women I knew were in the same boat: having a goal of daily Bible reading, trying repeatedly to make that happen, falling short, and feeling guilt. We were often eager to try new ideas, always looking for the “one thing” that would help us maintain the Bible reading habit past a few days or so. But in all those years of adding this or that, trying this or that plan, I ultimately found success only one way.

Not by adding, but by taking away.

If you’ve had trouble working daily Bible reading into your life, instead of seeking the one amazing thing that will surely make it all work for you, try instead to let things go. Here are a few things, a few expectations, that we can let go in order to make daily Bible reading happen:

1. The expectation of peace and quiet

In my life as a homeschool mom of four kids, if I had waited for peace and quiet in order to do my Bible reading each day, I would have been waiting more than 20 years. For a certain season of your life, this may be the number one expectation to let go of: that you must have a regular, consistent, dependable time of peace and quiet each day. It just may not happen right now. You can work around it, I promise. Keep reading . . .

2. A certain time of day

Mornings are best, right? So often we hear, “Start your day with the Lord!” David did (Psalm 5:3)! Jesus did (Mark 1:35)! I placed great importance on this and then got discouraged when it absolutely was not going to happen in my house, which for years averaged two to three young children up at the crack of dawn each day. Or maybe you’re a night owl and your brain doesn’t work well before your second cup of coffee. If needed, let go of the early morning ideal and realize it’s okay to read whenever you can—even right before you go to sleep at night. Your heavenly Father welcomes you whenever you open your heart to his Word.

3. Special “extras”

A cozy nook, the perfect hot drink, a beautiful journaling Bible, and other picture-perfect scenarios. I know, it’s pretty and so appealing. I think so, too. But none of it is necessary and can be a stumbling block.

4. The written word

You can find great rewards by listening to the Bible while waiting in the carpool line or during your commute. While nursing the baby or doing housework or cooking. While working out or taking a walk.

5. A too-heavy reading plan

Reading the Bible in one year is great—if you can stick with it. But it can be quite a bit of reading for certain seasons in your life. Try the New Testament in one year and add Psalms if you’re able. Or try a 3-year plan that tackles the entire Bible at a slower pace. With any plan, keep in mind that forgetting, skipping a day, or other life interference isn’t the end of the world. Pick up your Bible the very next day and move on. Sometimes an undated guide helps with this because if you miss a day or two, you can simply pick up where you left off rather than trying to “catch up,” which can become discouraging very quickly.

Related to this is the idea that you must spend a certain amount of time in the Word for it to “count.” Not true. It may be that on any given day, spending five or ten minutes with your Bible is what you can do. Thank God for those 5 or 10 minutes and let go of the guilt.

6. Your study Bible

I love my study Bible. I love it so much that I want to read every word of it—all the extra articles, all the history and author information, and all the little notes at the bottom. This information is great—until it distracts you so much that you get bogged down and your daily Bible reading takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r and pretty soon you see it as an overwhelming task.

In fact, earlier this year I started a fairly heavy Bible reading plan, and in order to not get distracted during my longer daily readings, I got a “consumable” Bible to carry around with me, take in the car, read at the counter while cooking dinner, or wherever I happen to be. A consumable Bible is a cheap, no-frills Bible that may end up with folded or torn pages, toddler scribbles, or coffee stains. It’s almost impossible to get distracted (by other things in your Bible) while reading it—because there’s nothing there except the Word.

7. The One Best Way

There is not One Best Way, but instead many ways to read your Bible daily that can change and adapt with you over the years. Some other ways to keep your reading fresh and realistically doable are: a chronological Bible, a chronological-ish five-day reading plan, various devotional Bibles, or daily scripture writing (following a monthly plan arranged by theme, or writing out entire books of the Bible several verses at a time—scripture writing has transformed my devotional time over the past few years!).

It’s possible that there are one or more things on this list that are already working well for you right now (maybe you journal with your Bible daily, or you’ve found a quiet time each day to read, or you already get up earlier than your late-rising family . . . ), and if this is the case, that’s terrific! But if you’re one of the many, many women who want to be reading the Bible daily and just can’t seem to develop the habit or find the time, is there something on this list that you can let go of in order to make Bible reading happen more regularly in your life? Letting go of this or that expectation—or all of them, if necessary—is very freeing. The goal is to arrive at a pattern of Bible reading that works for you right now, and keeps you in regular, daily contact with your Savior in a way that he has given to you at this time in your life.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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