By Rebecca Ouwehand
“Walk, don’t fly.” I had a hard time starting a daily Bible-reading habit because life is relentless. This is the plan that finally worked, so I wanted to share it with you.
1. Put a bookmark at the beginning of Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Matthew and Romans. This divides the Bible into Old Testament History, Psalms, Proverbs, Old Testament Writings, New Testament History and New Testament Writings.
2. Every day, open your Bible to at least one bookmark and read at least one verse. This is what makes this plan possible: no matter how busy you are, one single verse is do-able. There’s no time wasted feeling guilty about missing. If you forget one day, the next day is New Year’s Day – you get a blank slate and start over again. If you read one verse before you go to bed, celebrate! You’ve done it! You’ve stuck to your plan; thank God and ask God to help you stick to it tomorrow again.
3. You can mark your place on the page however you like (with a post-it note or a pencil, for example). The way I do it is that each day, I start at the left. If I realize I’ve read the chapter before, I skip to the next one. If I did read the chapter before but don’t remember it, then apparently, I should read it again!
4. With time and practice (and as your kids learn to sleep through the night), you can gradually increase to one chapter per day at each bookmark (though 6-12 verses in Proverbs is enough to absorb per day, and I divide Psalm 119 over a few days). Here is where the balance comes in: through wide exposure to different parts of the Bible, you avoid theology that’s shaped by a one-sided, small-boxed view of God. One chapter per day at 5 bookmarks, plus a few Proverbs, takes 15-30 minutes (depending on how often I fall asleep while reading and/or spend time praying while reading) and gets me through the Old Testament sections about once every two years, and the New Testament sections and Psalms about twice per year.
5. If you need extra mystery in your life, read Job at the end of both Old Testament sections, and read Revelation at the end of both New Testament sections.
6. If you are too sick to read, put your Bible on your bedside table and make your visitors read it to you. (I got this one from my Mom when she was dying of cancer. It was a beautiful way for us to share time with her when she was in a coma.)
7. I recommend the NRSV or NIV as versions which tread the line between scholarly and readable. But you can use this plan with whatever Bible you like.
If you’d like a six-cord bookmark made for use with this program, please contact Rebecca at Rebecca.email@example.com or Rev. Hilde. Bookmarks are $5 each; price is negotiable.