As the New Year rolls around, I’m reminded again of a profitable Bible reading practice I implemented several times in the past. Like most avid readers, I consume a lot of information from many authors and many genres over the course of the year. At the recommendation of some mentor—unfortunately I forget their name—I decided one year to put down all my other reading on January 1 and read only the Bible, cover to cover. The idea was to renew my mind but cutting out any distractions and focusing in on the Scriptures. I discovered three amazing benefits to this practice:
- I gained a deeper sense of the unity of Scriptures. There is a place for slowly reading Scripture and studying it deeply. However, reading the Bible quickly, over a short period of time, helped me see how it ties together much more readily. Stepping back from the detail allowed me to see the broad strokes of God’s plan for salvation.
- My mind was renewed. It is easy for me to become caught up in ideas, philosophies, and pursuits that are distractions from the pursuit of God. By sinking deeply into God’s Word over the period of a few months, I was able to refresh my focus and my priorities.
- I was able to reevaluate my information diet. In 2012, I read an interesting little book titled The Information Diet. The book itself was not that great, but the central premise changed my approach to media consumption considerably. Reading the Bible straight through at the beginning of the year—to the exclusion of all other reading—functioned like a Whole30 for my brain. After stepping away for a time, I returned to my books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers with fresh eyes and was able to curate my information diet.
For most Christians, reading the Bible straight through seems overwhelming. However, when compared to reading other books, it seems fairly doable. The Bible has about 750,000 words. Compare that to over a million words for the Harry Potter series, 455,000 words for the Lord of the Ring series, or 560,000 words for Atlas Shrugged (admittedly, this last book is unnecessarily verbose). Reading the Bible straight through is a large task, but not an impossible one, and for an avid reader, shouldn’t take more than 2–3 months.
I did this for several years. Each year I would choose a different plan or order for reading the books—topical, chronological, historical, etc. And each year, I found a deeper appreciation for God’s Word and greater insights into His redemptive plan.