This post was originally published as Bible Study Made Simple podcast episode 21, 3 Mistakes People Make with Bible Reading Plans. You can listen here.
I have made every mistake in the book when it comes to reading through the Bible. But over the last 4 years, I have read through the Bible 6 times. So I have learned a thing or two about the mistakes, but also how to overcome those mistakes and make it through a whole plan.
I am Eva Kubasiak, and this is Bible Study Made Simple. Have you ever felt intimidated or confused by the Bible? Or maybe you have started studying the Bible before but haven’t found a way to incorporate it into your regular routine. The Bible Study Made Simple podcast is here to help you move from intimidated and confused to confident and joyful in your approach to Scripture, and help you find a routine that sticks. The goal isn’t checking off a box perfectly, but instead, our goal is an intimate connection with the God of the Bible - plus having tons of fun along the way!
Back in middle school, my best friend Rebecca told me that she was going to read through the Bible. I caught the bug of excitement that she had as she was sharing her plan with me. She was reading through as she had time - and she was an avid reader. So by the time that she told me she was reading through the Bible, she was already finished with Genesis!
Not to be outdone by Becca, my competitive spirit kicked in and I read through the entire book of Genesis that night. Do I remember anything I read? Probably not. Did I skim more than really read? Probably. Did I ever pick my Bible back up through that particular attempt of reading through the Bible? Sadly, no.
When it comes to making New Years resolutions, or reading through the Bible any time of year, it can be easy to make several mistakes. And let me tell you - I have made all of them. Multiple times. So as we head into 2022, I would love to guide you through some of my past mistakes, and give you a few tips on how to do things differently. I want to see you successfully reading through your Bible - not to check off a box, but instead to deepen your relationship with your Creator.
The first mistake that I made was trying to do too many plans.
It can be easy to think you are just adding one little thing here, or one chapter to read there. But then you realize you don’t have the time or capacity to follow all the plans. I recommend having one thing that you are reading, and when you are comfortable with that habit and routine, then adding in some study as well.
As I was evaluating what I would do for my own personal reading plan in 2022, I realized that I was overwhelmed with everything that I was currently trying to do in my Bible reading and study plan. I was trying to study a book, read through a Bible reading plan, get the overview of another book, and then I was also trying to do an advent devotional along the way. Add in my 8 month old daughter, and the business that comes with the Holidays, and it’s no wonder I was overwhelmed! So I simplified it to one reading plan, and one study plan. I try to read my Bible every day, and I try to study 3-4 times per week. That way, I am able to incorporate both without losing my mind.
Go through your own Bible study routine. How many things are you trying to go through. Look at what you are planning for 2022. Are you biting off more than you can chew? Simplify your Bible reading and study goals so that the focus is truly connecting with God, not checking off 5 boxes each day. There will always be another study plan you can add, but sometimes the wisest thing to do is to focus on one.
Something that is really closely tied to trying to do too many plans, is starting too big. I talked about this in episode 3, with the Biggest Mistake I see in Bible Study (blog link). If you haven’t listened to that episode, or even if it has been awhile, I would recommend you go back and listen to that episode before starting your Bible reading plan for 2022. Starting too big is exactly what I did when my friend Becca and I were reading through the Bible, and I want to make sure that you don’t follow in my footsteps!
The next mistake I made with my Bible reading time is thinking that listening or reading on my phone doesn’t count.
When I first started reading through my Bible, I was working from home with a pretty flexible schedule and didn’t have any kids. So if I wanted to spend an hour with my Bible open, I could. Now, it’s a few years down the road, I have an 8 month old and set working hours based on her nap times.
Because of that, my Bible reading time doesn’t always look how I want it to. Of course I love getting those quiet times with my Bible open, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes Callie wakes up in the middle of it, or sometimes, she just wants to be held. Now I don’t want to miss out on a single snuggle, so my Bible time often gets interrupted, even if the interruptions are really cute. So I have some backup plans that I use to read on the days where my attention is divided.
I used to get frustrated with these interruptions, or even just days when my reading time didn’t go as planned. But now, I am just flexible with what the day brings my way. If I need to read on my phone while we are waiting somewhere, I read on my phone. If Callie and I need to listen to the Bible while doing the dishes or playing, we listen together. My Bible reading time isn’t holier when I get uninterrupted time by the fire in the living room. Instead, God meets me where I am, in the middle of the chaos, and that moment is just as holy.
The third mistake that I made is getting caught up in the dates of the plan.
Most Bible reading plans are dated. They want you to start on January 1, and end on December 31. Why they do that, I don’t know. But did you know there is nothing special about January 1? And there is nothing special about the dates on the plan. So I prefer an undated reading plan.
When there are dates on your plan, and you see that you are a few days behind, it can be discouraging. You feel the need to catch up, and it can cause guilt and shame for missing a day, so much so that the guilt and the shame keep you from picking it back up, and so you end up missing even more days!
So now, I just use an undated plan, and I don’t worry about missing a day. You might remember from our last episode that the goal of our Bible reading is getting to know God. When you know that is your desire and the goal of your Bible reading, checking off every single box isn’t as important as prioritizing that time regularly, whether you have missed a day or not.
So the three mistakes that I see in Bible reading plans are
Instead, we can know that the end goal of any time spent in our Bible is getting to know God. So we can focus on one plan, connect with God through listening to the Bible or even reading on our phones, and we can pick up a reading plan any day - no matter how behind we feel.
As I was reading Psalm 19 recently, I listed out a few benefits of reading our Bibles. I am going to read these verses for you, and I would love for you to listen specifically for those benefits.
The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving insight for living.
Did you hear some of those? The Lord’s words revive the soul, give wisdom, bring joy and insight! What a gift that we have, just by investing our time in these words given to us by the God who loves us with unfailing love and wants a relationship with each of us.
If you are wanting to get into a habit for reading God’s Word and avoid these mistakes, I have a free Bible Reading Habit PDF that I would love to send you. If you go to evakubasiak.com/habit, you can download the pdf for free. And as you take your next steps towards God through studying the Bible, I pray that you remember our goal is connection with God over perfection in our process. Remember, your time with God doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.