Have you started a Bible reading plan…only to fall behind? It doesn’t seem to matter whether you tackle a Rapid Bible Read Thru, a 6-month survey of the New Testament, a 60-day reading plan, or the 16-week New Disciple Challenge I wrote about last week. Most people who start a Bible reading plan fall behind at some point. Here are a few ways you can catch up (and none of them are overwhelming).
Before I share the three methods, I want to quickly lay out the easiest way to stay ahead. After all, if you have a strategy for staying ahead, you won’t need to bookmark this post! (wink)
Read for time, not content.
Almost every plan out there is set up as “daily readings.” You read…check a box…put your Bible away. Then you repeat the pattern the next day.
With this method, you are almost guaranteed to fall behind at some point. Even if you’re perfectly consistent for several weeks, what happens when you get the flu and miss a couple days? You have to set aside time to do three days of reading just to catch up!
However, if you read for an amount of time, you will always be ahead. The first few days, figure out how much time it takes you to do the reading. Then read for five minutes longer – even though it will take you into the next day’s reading.
Then, when you miss a day, it won’t have the same effect. You’ll shrug it off and keep plugging along the next day.
Ok…so what do you do when you DO fall behind?
Here’s the video (Scroll down for the written version)
Method 1: Recalculate the Time
This is the MY FAVORITE of the three methods. All you have to do is look at the amount of reading you have left and recalculate the time it will take you to read. A few helpful tips:
- If you started out reading for an amount of time, then you already have an idea of how long it takes to read a page, a chapter, etc. Use your initial calculates as your guide. Since you based it on your reading speed, it will be the most accurate.
- If you’re reading covers several books, the Old or New Testament, or even the whole Bible, this post will be really helpful to calculate the length of the books you’re reading.
- If you want a simple way to estimate, you can use 4-minutes-per-chapter as a good basic guide.
For most people, this only adds 2-5 minutes a day and spreads out the “catching up” process over the entire plan.
Method 2: The 2-Day Catch Up
This is the FASTEST of the three methods. Are you one of those people who always tackles the hardest task on your To Do List first? Do you enjoy phrases like “Suck it up creampuff!” and “Git ‘er dun!”
If so, this is for you!
- Look at your schedule for the next couple weeks.
- Pick 2-3 days where you can add an extra 30-60 minutes of reading.
- Put it on your schedule…with a reminder. (Or you won’t do it!)
- Grab your Bible and Git ‘er Dun!
Side Note: Every year during the Rapid Bible Read Thru, I have people who actually build this right into their weekly routine. They know before even starting that different days of the week are easier for them to do more reading. Instead of 35-40 minutes every day, they do 20-25 minutes most days and 60-90 minutes on Saturdays and/or Sundays.
Method 3: Extend the Plan
This is the EASIEST of the three methods. This might not work if you’re doing a reading plan with a group and everyone else is on track. However, if your goal is to hang out with Jesus and enjoy His Word, then extending your reading plan is not failing. It’s adjusting so you can succeed.
Too often, people get behind…then quit. That’s the worst thing you can do!
You probably know how many “days behind” you are. Add them to the end of your plan. Boom! Done.
One word of warning: Don’t make Method 3 a habit. Make it a last resort. There is something that happens in your brain when you set a goal and achieve it. You realize what’s possible. You tackle another challenge. You associate a sense of accomplishment with your Bible reading – and your consistency improves moving forward. If you can catch up using Method 1 or Method 2 – do it!
Now…pick a method, pick up your Bible, and enjoy some time with Jesus!