[Below is an excerpt from my book, Power Read the Bible]
I always wanted to read the entire Bible. It seemed like something every Christian should do. I tried multiple times early in my Christian journey, but encountered a familiar set of challenges.
The easy-hard paradox: I mostly tried the 365-day plans, and failed. It’s especially defeating when you know the goal really isn’t daunting at all (Come on Jeff, it’s just a few chapters a day!) The strange truth is, it’s so easy that it’s hard.
Confusion and boredom: When I did read, I didn’t understand everything I was reading. This felt pointless. But how dare I call any portions of God’s text uninteresting or difficult or… boring? (Feels like blasphemy!)
The pass-fail proposition: Most Bible reading plans are “all or nothing.” You either finish the plan, or you fail to read the entire Bible. It’s hard to find a silver lining when you crash in Leviticus.
Do any of these resonate with your experiences?
Well, years ago a friend encouraged me to read the Bible in 30 days. I was up for the challenge, so I dug in.
After my first 30-day read, I took a short break. Then I started again and read it in 40 days. In roughly three months, I read the Bible twice.
I learned that the number of days doesn’t matter so much. It’s the power reading approach that makes all the difference in the world. Based on my experience guiding others, and the practicality of “an hour a day of reading”, I recommend this 60-day reading plan.
Here are three benefits from Power Reading that flipped each of my prior frustrations on its head.
#1 We Need Big Goals
I tried one-year plans before, only to veer off course somewhere by February. I always considered the goal too difficult. But the real reason for my failure was that the 365-day goal was too easy!
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But think about it.
Often in life, goals that are easy are not worth doing. That’s not to say that reading the Bible in a year is not a worthwhile goal. It is! But the daily reading demands of the one-year plan are so small that we often don’t embrace the exercise or take it seriously.
People will embrace big goals. Marathon running, Couch-to-5K programs, 30-day body detox plans. Seemingly daunting challenges lead to greater success than trying to tackle smaller, comfortable goals.
The refreshing truth is this. You can read the Bible in far less than a year. And you can benefit from it too (that’s the whole point, and we’ll discuss this more later).
Since my experience, I’ve been encouraging and leading others through the journey.
The consensus discovery for most everyone is the same: it’s far easier to read large quantities for a focused season (of weeks or months) than to read a little bit each day for a long stretch.
#2 We Need the Big Picture
The Bible was not written to entertain us. (Yes, there are some great stories that make up one overall, grand story). But there’s also some very dry text—genealogies, census records, geographical data, weird laws and customs, and some seemingly cryptic poetry.
When doing a 60-day Bible read, we don’t try to understand everything. Instead we read to catch the big picture. Once we know the overall narrative, we can learn to power through the tough text patches along the way.
We don’t slow down to study the Old Testament laws or details of the tabernacle.
We’re tracking the overarching, end-to-end storyline of the Bible—the story of The Seed, 4,000 years of biblical history in which a human seed travels through roughly sixty-five generations.
With a compact read like the 60-day schedule, the big picture takes shape quickly. Instead of taking weeks or months to get through Deuteronomy (and losing focus of the big picture), the 60-day plan helps us through a time-lapse view.
We clear Genesis through Deuteronomy (the first five books) in just ten days. We read the entire New Testament in just two weeks.
With focus on the big picture and a brisk reading pace, you’ll be surprised just how much you will understand.
#3 We Need Lots of Grace
The 60-day read is a grace-filled plan. That may sound ironic for such an aggressive schedule, but it’s true. You suit the plan to fit you.
I provide a 60-day reading schedule. From my experience with groups, I’m reminded that life doesn’t roll the same for everyone. Life happens, right? You may get behind. And that’s fine.
A small minority of the readers are die-hard goal-trotters who will finish in exactly 60-days. (Wow!)
A much larger group will float across the finish line between sixty and seventy days. (Still very awesome.) Some will take longer, eighty or ninety days.
(Again, what an amazing accomplishment.)
A small minority decide that “power reading” isn’t for them so they stay on a slower track, yet still reading more of the Bible than they have before, gaining new insights and tracking the big picture themes presented in this book.
The key is that this is your plan. You set the goals and the targets. I will share some strategies for managing the pace, and some catch–up techniques for the “Type A” goal-setters.
The only rule I have for this plan is: No Guilt Allowed!