Reading the Bible Quickly

IMG_9391When I was in high school, several fellow high school bloggers started reading through the Bible in 30 days. “Why not?” I thought. So I joined in. I usually read for two-three hours each day, and it was intense. But I learned so much, and I’m glad I spent that time well when I had it.

On January 4, I was choosing a plan that would allow me to read through the Bible in one year. For the past year or so, I’ve used Jesus Calling and read through specific Bible books I’m interested in as slowly or quickly as I liked. But it was time for the big picture again–the whole story of creation-fall-redemption. One particular plan on my YouVersion App intrigued me–90 days to read the whole Bible. And right then, I decided to try it.

I’m so glad I did. I’ll start with the caveat that I’m a fast reader–sometimes even too fast (For the first two Harry Potter novels, I thought it was Defense Against the Dark Ants. My dad loved correcting me on that one. Does it help that I was in middle school at the time?).

But there’s’ something about reading the Bible quickly (however you define that) that I believe is essential. Sometimes all the sermons and Christian books and commentaries become too much, and I need to simply read the Bible on its own, relying on God to understand. I take for granted the ability to sit down with my Bible and read it in my own language. I learned so many things that my head is spinning (and I really wish I had kept a notebook beside me to write down what I was learning). But here are five things of the big things I gained through reading the Bible quickly:

1. I gained a renewed sense of the Grand Story. I had spent the last couple of years reading small sections–chapters and even just verses each day–to force myself to slow down. But I needed that big story again–the story of God working from Genesis to Revelation. The thread of God’s covenant with His people all throughout Scripture stands out clearly when you read the Bible so quickly. Revelation is such a different book when it follows just ninety days after Genesis. I was surprised anew by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives by contrasting the believers in Acts with those in the Old Testament.

2. I was able to see verses with fresh eyes by seeing them in context. Sometimes a verse becomes too commonplace and even misunderstood when quoted by well-meaning Christians constantly. Many verses gained power when I read them in context.

3. I didn’t lose momentum. It seems like reading the whole Bible in a year is a goal that many of us abandon by March (after wading through Leviticus and Numbers). But in a quick reading, I never lost momentum. I was in 1 Chronicles for days instead of weeks. If you want to read the Bible in a particular amount of time, rethink doing it in one year. Six months may be just perfect, or try 90 days.

4. I saw some of the holes in my understanding and reading. For example, I realized that I need to understand the Minor Prophets in their historical context better, something I plan to work on. I also am going to use my study Bible to look at maps of the Israelites’ wanderings and Jesus’ ministry. I made a list of all the things I want to know more about or study in depth as a result of my reading.

5. It removed Bible reading from standard devotional time. I suppose you could read the Bible in 90 days just by setting aside one chunk of time each day, but most days, I had to read in snippets all throughout the day. This was actually perfect for my season of life with an infant. I would read during nursing sessions or in the middle of the night. This helped me see the life-giving nature of Scripture in a new way, and I felt peace in the midst of a lot of stress by spending my time dwelling on Scripture instead of filling my time with time wasters or time passers.

There were days when I procrastinated. There were challenging days and catch-up days. There were times I had to force myself to slow down or reread. It was often an act of reigning in my mind. But those ninety days were rich, and I regained my sense of the Grand Story.

If you want to try this, I found that the most helpful thing was to keep my Bible (iPad YouVersion App and a hard copy) throughout the house, especially where I was nursing or rocking. This helped tremendously. It’s amazing how many little chunks of time we overlook in a day.

If you have a lost a sense of the big picture or if you have never read the entire Bible, I urge you to try 90 days–or even 180. It’s time well spent, as you discover or rediscover the power of Scripture.

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