By change it up I don’t mean make changes in the Bible you read – as in edit Scripture – but change up the way you read it, although, you might consider reading a different version, either temporarily or permanently. I find when I use another version that I notice all kinds of things I had previously passed over. But what I really mean by “changing it up” is your method of reading. There are nearly as many methods of Bible reading as there are Bible readers. There’s no one size fits all. There’s nothing in the Bible that says, “Read this much, at this pace, in this way…”
I have friends who, for decades have read the whole Bible each year. Some typically follow a church wide reading schedule or one printed in the beginning of their Bibles. Some will read a chapter of Proverbs and five Psalms a day each month (it works out almost perfectly at the end of the month). No one of these approaches trumps all the others as some “Spirit sanctioned system of Scripture study.” Sometimes we’re bored with our Bible reading because we’ve been doing it the same way since Moses taught Sunday School. Maybe it’s time to change it up a little.
Read till something grabs you
My friends Bob and Jean like to take long drives, which seems like a lost hobby, probably because of the cost of fuel these days. But they’ll just get in the car and drive till they’ve either seen enough and then turn around and go home or till they see something they’d like to see more of (like an ice cream store!). They usually have no destination in mind when they first get in the car. They’re simply out to see what they might see. They don’t usually turn on the radio or listen to music. They just chat or comment on what they pass by on the road. Their drives are usually no more than an hour or so each way, but once, without any forethought to do so, they went all the way up into the mountains where they have a cabin – three and a half hours away!
To apply this to your Bible reading, you might consider, rather than having a certain destination in mind and reading a certain number of chapters a day, reading till something grabs you. This way you trade quantity for quality. I’m certainly not saying it’s a bad thing to have a reading schedule. If that helps you, and you’re captivated and learning by the content of those chapters you’re reading, that’s fantastic! If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.But if you’re getting bogged down in keeping up with a schedule, then maybe it’s time to let it go and see if the Spirit doesn’t take you on a different path, the path of intentionally listening for his voice while you’re reading.
I’m not suggesting that you bounce from place to place or just open your Bible randomly everyday and see what stands out. While there may be a periodic benefit to the “Lucky Dip Method,” doing it that way regularly will yield an incomplete view of the story. How would you ever be able to follow the plotlinel if you read all your novels that way?
So, for me, unless I’m compelled for a period of time to use a schedule of some sort I don’t worry about covering a certain amount of ground. One day I might read five chapters and the next, five verses. If there’s something in those five verses that the Spirit seems to be highlighting to me at the moment, I don’t want to rush on to get the other four and a half chapters read for the day in order to keep up with some self-imposed schedule. The next day I might start with those same five verses to see if there’s reason to camp there longer before moving out. There have been numerous times when I’ve camped in one paragraph for the purpose of further meditation for weeks. I’m not worried about reading a certain quantity of Scripture, since the following chapters will be there when I decide to move on.
However I’m reading, it’s common for me to look up and possibly study parallel passages along the way or research concepts and words used in the passage, which obviously cuts down on the progress I might have made in reading a specified number of chapters for the day. The initial passage that incited my interest to begin with might be more of a catalyst to point me to other passages that become my primary muse. I don’t fight it, I go with what seems is the work of the Spirit in my life at the time.
In the next post or two (yes, we’ve lapsed into the land of “ish”) I’ll offer a few suggestions about how we might change it up.
Before I do, what are your favorite methods of reading the Bible without slipping into mind numbing boredom?