Everyone loves setting goals for the New Year. Whether it’s fitness, productivity, or prayer-oriented, each new year brings about a chance to get a fresh start on your desired goals or that one thing you’re always putting off.
For a spiritual challenge, try this one: read your entire Bible this year!
Now, if you’re a cradle Catholic like me and Jackie, the Bible may scare you. We know it’s important (it is the Word of God, after all) but, in the words of comedian Jim Gaffigan, we get the “Cliff notes” on Sundays so we Catholics don’t really need to read the Bible during the week, right?
“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”-St. Jerome
Yikes. Ok, well. So I know that I should read the Bible. Yet, all the talk of cubits and Amorites and Jebusites and other big words is daunting. If the excuse for not reading the Bible is “it’s difficult,” then you will never pursue anything in life truly worth pursuing. So let’s cross off that excuse.
Maybe you’ve tried reading the Bible and failed before. Reading the Bible straight through is tough. Genesis? Nice. Exodus? Oh yeah, Prince of Egypt, I got this. Leviticus? Uh… Shoot dang. Game over. I’ve personally tried and failed with this strategy before. So what works?
Chart it Out
A co-worker of mine shared with me this chart by Meg Hunter-Kilmer (a fellow blogger and nomad for the Gospel) which details how the read the entire Bible in one year. I printed it out, double-sided, and stuffed in my Bible, crossing out the days as I went. The chart takes you through the whole Bible in a year (and the Gospels twice), going through the Old Testament with New Testament books. We started it on New Year’s Day, and I am stoked to say that I’m approaching one full year of daily Scripture reading.
I’ve effectively read the Bible more in the last 365 days than in my last 30 years. Now I feel off-kilter if I don’t open the Bible daily. I’m actually hungry for God’s word.
Here are two key reasons why I’ve stuck to reading the Bible daily.
- This chart isn’t scary. It just isn’t. Even if I encounter weird names or lists of dietary laws, it’s broken into little chunks of reading each day that anyone can get through.
- Accountability. A friend and I began this challenge on the same day so we’re not in it alone. We bounced thoughts off of each other and talked about how the readings daily spoke to us (or didn’t). When life got busy and I somehow fell a day behind, I also had someone to check in with. The Buddy System: not just for bathrooms.
Click here for the schedule!
(Dr. Mary Healy, a Catholic biblical scholar also has a cool chart that you could use.)
There are some great books out now for Catholics to get the Biblical education perhaps they always wanted but never had. Here are some recommendations to increase your Scripture education:
- Bible Basics for Catholics by Dr. John Bergsma
- The Great Adventure series by Ascension Press
- Walking with God by Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray
- A Father Who Keeps His Promises by Scott Hahn (and really, anything else written by Scott Hahn)
Whether you heed our call to jump into the Bible or not this year, know that any time you spend with Scripture will never be wasted time. It may not be discernable how it’s making a difference in your daily life, but like a super-soldier serum, the Word will inject God’s life into your daily routine and enrich your year in abundance.
The Holy Bible is like a mirror before our mind’s eye. In it we see our inner face.
-Saint Gregory the Great
PS: Brandon Vogt literally just wrote an excellent piece on the same theme of committing your New Year to reading the Scripture. He shares some other resources that you can check out. Read it here!