Often times, our study habits in the Bible can become mundane; either we don't know what to read on that particular day, or we don't want to read on that particular day.
Through The Bible In 30 Days, found here, is a program adapted for the man or woman looking to radically change their study habits, their understanding of God's Word, and their deep love for the scriptures. It's my belief that, in reading through the Bible quickly, we are given a unique perspective on the different literatures in the Bible, the way God consistently speaks to his people, the flow of each book, and the overarching theme of all scripture: God reaching out to his people to redeem them. When we understand how we got the Bible over thousands of years of intense and tedious preservation, and then decide to read through a new and objective lens, God can work miracles in our hearts and in our lives.
Reading the Bible in 30 days may seem a daunting task. However, here are a few study tips to help us stay on course.
1. Pick a readable, plain translation (not a study Bible)
When we decide to read the Bible quickly, reading from a chronological, archaeological, or general study Bible can hinder us. Study Bible's like these are fantastic for deeper research of a certain theme or time period in the Bible, but when reading quickly, the interested person might be distracted by all the footnotes, the side-commentaries, etc. Reading the Bible in 30 Days will be a lot of reading, so I recommend using a Bible translation you enjoy (some of my favorites are ESV, HCSB, NIV, or NKVJ), while making sure there are minimal distractions on each page.
2. Don't take notes
This may be difficult for many of us to do (or not do, rather). In regular Bible study, taking notes is a helpful tool that gives the information we read another opportunity to stick in our long-term memory. When reading the Bible quickly, it may not be feasible to take notes on every page. A recommendation that will help the need-to-take-notes note-taker is to use tiny sticky notes instead. Rather than spending one or two minutes each time you want to take note of something that interests you or confuses you in the Bible, you can just plop a sticky note on that page of the Bible, and come back to it after your 30 day plan.
3. Choose specific times in the day to read
Maybe you're a person who chooses to read their Bible at the same time each day (morning, during lunch, evening, etc.); or, you could be someone that just reads whenever they have time; or maybe you've never read the Bible before in your life. Regardless of who you are and where you stand, when reading the Bible quickly, I recommend choosing two or even three times in the day to read. Depending on how fast you read, and on your general grasp with material in the Bible, reading in 30 days will take anywhere from 2.5 hours to 3.5 hours each day. I recommend breaking it into at least two segments in the morning and evening, though you could also choose to read several times throughout the day if needed.
4. Skim genealogies
A great example of a long genealogy is in the beginning of First Chronicles. For over nine chapters, you have virtually only names, many of which are difficult to pronounce without reading the names in Hebrew. My recommendation is to skim these genealogies. Notice I said skim and not skip. If you choose, you can skip them entirely, however, I personally like to at least glance at each name. You'll find you may recognize some familiar names if you do so. Two genealogies I like to read in their entirety will be found in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. These two examples give an extraordinary illustration of God's plan for Jesus in the Old Testament.
5. Read bits of the Old Testament and the New Testament each day
While the plan I use starts in Genesis and ends in Revelation, there may be times you go an entire day reading difficult material, that might seem irrelevant to your life. My suggestion is to have a few scriptures that you hold on to throughout the 30 day plan that fix your heart and mind on Jesus. Some that I often refer to are Colossians 3, 1 Corinthians 13, and John 15. These don't have to be the ones you choose, but I recommend having scriptures that refocus your thoughts on Jesus each day.
Another option is the take the plan I've given, and to divide each day in two. For example, with the current plan, you'll begin the New Testament on Day 23. If you'd like, you can cut all 30 days in half, and read the first half of Day 1 alongside the first half of Day 23, then the second half of Day 2 the next day, with the second half of Day 23 (and so on and so forth). You will finish the New Testament much faster than the Old Testament, but will have the ability to read both testaments each day until that point.
6. Listen to audio-Bibles
For some, this is a very helpful tool. For others, this will not do. If listening to an audio Bible instead of reading or while reading is helpful, then by all means, do so. If you're accessing the same scriptures, there is no wrong way to go about it.
Reading the Bible in 30 days will not be easy, but it will be rewarding. Ask a friend or spouse to join you, and if you feel alone, visit the online ministry for encouragement. If you feel so compelled, post your thoughts in the comments section to create a dialogue with the others that are reading. Most of all, remember that the Word is God, and we are communicating with him, growing more in love with him, and changing into men and women that can more perfectly please him.
The Bible is the most fascinating book ever written. It makes us laugh, it makes us cry. It will mold us as it chisels our heart, and it will remove the fog from our eyes as we see God more and more perfectly each day.
Now, what are you waiting for? Let's get started!
"Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law." Psalm 119:18
“ . . . for I delight in your commands because I love them." Psalm 119:47
"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Psalm 119:103
Here is a great article by Jon Sherwood: Some Advice to Finally Read The Bible This Year