Last week I read an article on Christianity Today that quoted some sobering statistics about daily Bible reading plan problems. According to Bible Gateway, “By the end of February, reading plan traffic drops by one-third from January’s overall levels, and by the end of May, it drops by nearly one-half.”
Did you start a Bible reading plan in January? Did you fall off the wagon?
I’ll admit that in the past I’ve become one of the statistics every year. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read Genesis and Matthew, yet I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve read Malachi and Revelation. I’ve found that there are two problems that hinder my Bible reading plans: Perfectionism and ADD-like tendencies.
Perfectionism is a Hindrance to Bible Reading
I’ve been a perfectionist my entire life. Over the years I’ve gotten a lot better at reigning in my perfectionist tendencies, but they still come out every January.
You fellow perfectionists know what I mean. I create a bunch of checklists to help me lose weight, eat healthier, organize my house, and, yes, read my Bible in a year.
I start my plans with great gusto! I faithfully get up in the morning before the kids wake up and read two chapters of Genesis, one chapter in Matthew, a Psalm, and a Proverb. Things go well for about a week. Then inevitably, something happens. A kid gets sick. An alarm doesn’t go off. I go out of town. And I get behind.
After a few days of being off plan, I find I’m 21 chapters behind in my Bible reading plan, and the thought of catching up is overwhelming. I could ignore the dates on my Bible reading chart, but then, heaven forbid, I wouldn’t be able to finish my Bible in a year!
And thus, my perfectionism derails my plans to read the Bible in a year.
But even if my perfectionism wasn’t a problem, I have another issue.
Distraction is a Hindrance to Bible Reading
Surely I’m not the only person in the world with this problem. As I’m reading Genesis (for the 50th time, because of my problem with perfectionism), I’m so familiar with the story that my mind starts wandering.
I begin reading about God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and suddenly Abraham and Isaac are sacrificing a ram that God provided. Somewhere between Genesis 22:1 and Genesis 22:13, my eyes swept the page of my Bible, but my mind was making a to-do list for the day.
Familiarity is good, but sometimes I read the same story so often that I fail to pick up on the details. I fail to pay attention at all. And that’s one of the reasons I fail so often with “read the Bible in a year” plans. They always begin with Genesis and Matthew, and every January I start with the same stories I’ve read over and over, and I miss out on the richness of the rest of the Bible.
Don’t get me wrong. Genesis and Matthew are important books and can be fascinating to read. But the rest of the Bible is important, too, and those of us who can’t seem to keep up a reading plan for more than a month are really missing out.
Even more important, we’re probably doing ourselves a disservice by not reading what’s unfamiliar to us. Unfamiliar passages are new and exciting! And when the Bible is taken as a whole, chapters that have been read over and over like Genesis and Matthew become more interesting as we begin making connections with other parts of the Bible.
The Bottom Line
Are yearly Bible reading plans bad? Not at all! I love to hear success stories from people who read the Bible in it’s entirety every single year!
But for people like me (and I suspect there are many) who struggle with perfectionism and distraction, yearly Bible reading plans can become less about fellowship with God and more about a checklist that never gets completely checked off.
Is Bible reading hopeless for people like me (and maybe people like you)? Again, not at all! On Monday I will share what I’m doing this year that has made all the difference in the world for my daily quiet time! I actually look forward to my alarm going off at 5:00 in the morning, so I can spend time in the Word. Those who know me know what a huge deal that is!
So stay tuned. Now that I’ve bared my soul about my little daily Bible reading plan problems, I’m super-excited to tell you all about what’s working!
Do you struggle with daily Bible reading? What are your biggest obstacles?