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Reading the Bible on a Tight Schedule

Even before the sun casts a shadow, the baby is crying and you’ve started your day. As your other kids awake, you feed and dress them while you’re getting ready yourself. The clock is relentless. Rushing out the door to daycare and then your job, you barely have time to nourish your physical body let alone your soul. That’s when you drive down guilt-trip lane.

Your pastor, your parents, your friends, your church small group tell you to read the Bible, study the Bible, even dissect the Bible. But who has time? The crush of each digital second hastens us with the tyranny of the urgent. Keep looking forward because the freight train of deadlines and responsibility is hurtling your way.

In our series of Bible Gateway 20th anniversary reflections, we’re exploring what it means to realistically engage the Bible in our hectic world. We all know the Bible is important to read—the most important book of all; underscored by it remaining at the number one top of the bestseller charts year after decade after century after millennia. It’s God’s Word to us, after all. And yet, once we bring it home from the store, somehow we keep neglecting it. “We’ll get to it… later.”

I speak from experience. My college days came with the commitment to read 12 chapters of the Bible a day: six in the morning; six at night. That soon became six chapters total. Then only three chapters just before bed. Sleep had a way of subduing my reading fervor and I quickly gave up. Through the years my approach is best described as “start/stop feast/famine.”

But we all have the same 1,440 minutes (86,400 hastening seconds) in a day to work with. Why do some people accomplish the impossible in that amount of time and others can’t even get out of bed? The answer: We do what we want to do. It’s that simple. We want to eat. We want to sleep. Nothing (at least for long) can keep us from these physiological basics. So it’s merely a matter of choosing to put the Bible’s “daily bread” intake on the same intransigent level as those essentials. Once you decide that, the rest is simply scheduling.

An initial approach to incorporating the Bible into your life’s routine and rhythm is to intentionally not make it an arduous task. The following are some ideas I’ve used in my own life to help keep the Bible front and center.

1. Do you have a tear-off-a-day calendar in your kitchen? Make it a Bible verse calendar to glance at while you’re toasting your bread.

2. Instead of listening to the radio as you commute to work or drive around town, listen to a CD or MP3 recording of the Bible being read. Find a version that’s audibly understandable to you. Enjoy the read. Let it frame your general point of view in those moments, even if you don’t grasp every detail or remember every verse.

3. Sign up to receive a free daily Bible verse in your inbox so it’s automatically there for you whenever you check your email. Forward it to a friend who would benefit from its message.

4. Download a mobile Bible app so it’s easy for you to open your tablet or smartphone and skim a Bible passage (or listen to its audio version) while you queue at the store or are in your doctor’s waiting room. Take it with you to church and refer to it while the sermon is being preached. Easy on; easy off (and easy locating a minor prophet like Zephaniah without having to flip through hundreds of printed pages).

5. Keep open in a tab on your desktop’s browser and click to it when you hear or read a news story that could be contextualized from a biblical viewpoint. And pray for the people at the center of that news.

6.As these methods work their way into your everyday tasks, you may find yourself ready for a little more structure: follow a prepared Bible reading plan that could be as brief as verses grouped together around a specific topic, to reading the complete Bible in a set number of days. This might be when you actually commit yourself to an explicit time and place in which you’ll encounter the Bible. Just as you brush your teeth every morning after getting out of bed, determine you’ll include the Bible in your personal well-being and healthful repetition. If you’ve scheduled a reading plan on a mobile app, let it remind you every day to access it.

Today’s technology can be an onerous time-sucker or it can be a liberating change-agent that helps you engage the Bible and make it an excitedly natural part of your daily 1,440 minutes!

On our Facebook page, tell us how you read the Bible on your tight schedule. And tweet about it using #biblegateway.

Filed under Bible Study