All of my good intentions make me feel like a failure when it comes to summertime. This summer I was going to have my children read all kinds of books and play outside all day. Instead, we found ourselves running around town doing errands and being busy. In the evenings we were all so tired I just let them watch TV. Insert the big fat feelings of failure. Have you ever felt like good intentions were just setting you up to fail? In the summer we have such a hard time keeping up any type of routine, let alone a Bible reading plan. How do we keep up with a Bible reading plan during the summer?
If you are feeling a little guilty for not reading your Bible this summer, take heart because you are not alone. Staying consistent during the summer is very hard work. When there is a routine we can easily fall into the rut that if we skip a few days, we’ve messed it up. Just because we have more free time doesn’t mean we always choose the right thing. Oftentimes the good things compete with the best things. What if we decided this was the summer we really dived deep into God’s Word? Imagine if this summer we started putting God first in our lives and kept going, what would your life look like?
First of all, if you don’t have a summer Bible reading plan, I have this great one for the Book of Psalms! Once we have a plan, the more challenging part is to keep it going. Let’s take a look at five things we can do to keep up with our Bible reading plan:
1. Get an accountability partner.
One of the best things I did a long time ago was find a friend who would read the Bible with me. I wasn’t necessarily looking, but a sweet lady from my church invited me over to chat one Friday evening. The next thing I knew she is sharing her very simple Bible reading plan and I found an accountability partner. Every time I saw her she asked what I was reading in the Bible. That’s all we need! Just someone to help us be accountable and ask us, “What are you reading in the Bible right now?” This simple process will help us stay on track. Doing this Christian life is better when we have a friend. God has created us for the community, so make sure you are connected to other Christians. If you find yourself unable to find a partner, can I encourage you to look in your local church? It is the place God has designed for us to find community. Who in your life can you ask to be a partner with you? It doesn’t have to be someone you see every day. You can also message each other via text or email. As long as you and the partner give each other grace and encouragement.
2. Give yourself grace.
When I talk to people about why they aren’t consistent with their Bible reading it is almost always because they’ve missed a few days. The guilt of skipping a few days (or more) keeps them from continuing. If we want to have a long-term Bible reading habit we have to realize we will skip some days. Life happens and distractions are a part of each week. When I first started out I gave myself the goal of reading three or four days a week. If you can’t read seven days a week, that’s ok! Don’t stop because you’ve missed a day (or more). Each day is an opportunity to start again. To get rid of the guilt we feel we must first recognize the guilt for not reading our Bible can be a good and bad thing. The guilt can spur us on to continue and start again, but it shouldn’t lead us down the path of despair. We can use guilt to help us take another step forward. Grace over guilt, friend. God has given us freely the grace we need, let’s not neglect to give it to ourselves when we make a mistake as well. Get a plan and listen to the guilt but give yourself grace.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Gift Habeshaw
3. Good over the best.
My children love when I read to them. In fact, they bring books to me all of the time to read aloud to them. Even my older boys (ages thirteen and eleven) will listen as I read aloud a book. One of our new favorite things we’ve started is that we listen to a book on audio during lunchtime. Lunch had become a loud mess of crazy. So I needed something to calm their little minds and voices. As I sat there listening to their book with them I realized I had also replaced something good with what could be better. Instead of listening to a book, what if we listened to God’s Word? As I drive now, I will not listen to music, I listen to the Bible being read aloud. If you are busy and reading a physical Bible is hard to fit into your day-to-day, what if you listened to it instead? I had a friend who would listen to her Bible reading while she put on her makeup and fixed her hair each morning before work. I would encourage you to look at your life and see where good intentions are getting in the way of better things God might have for you.
4. Get rid of distractions.
Although hard to hear, I would probably get rid of your phone, tablet, or computer during your Bible reading time. It is easy to look over and see notifications pop up and get distracted while reading the Bible. We can do our best but sometimes things happen. With God’s help, we can get rid of things we do have control over. Choosing a good time during the day helps with this. Another thing to do is to tell those around us that we need this time alone. Setting up expectations from other people helps. Choose to read your Bible away from distractions. That might mean we get up early or do it at night. It might be that we need to say no to a lunch gathering. Distractions are everywhere and sometimes we can’t get rid of all of them. However, there are some we can eliminate. So, I would encourage you to find a time to read when you have minimal distractions. You can do this!
5. Go forward.
When I was meeting with a sweet girl for brunch the other day she admitted to me she had not been consistent with her Bible reading plan during the summer. I knew I could tell her to do the first four things, but she knew all of those already. I sat across from her in the heat of summer at that outdoor coffee shop and looked her in the eyes. I told her to simply keep going. Choose today to read the Bible. If we were getting a coffee this summer I would tell you the same. Go forward. Each day is a new chance to start again. You haven’t made too many mistakes nor have you skipped too many days to return. God is waiting today. You haven’t gone too far to go forward. Friend, get a plan and start today. Keep going and don’t worry about the date or the amount. The best thing you can do to keep going in your Bible reading plan is to start each day like it is a new day – because it is! God’s mercies are new every morning so we can come to Him and find Him, no matter how long it has been.
Whatever the excuses you’ve made before (I’m too busy, tired, or lost), get rid of them! God is ready and willing to meet you here friend. It might feel like you have a messed-up life. As we move through the summer, we don’t have to neglect time in God’s Word. If we truly believe God meets us in the pages of His Word, what is holding us back from spending time with Him this summer? Maybe you are in the thick of it – a messy tangled life. Someone came in and it feels like they hoped away at all of the good intentions you had for this summer. If you are ready to be filled and healed from hurts, it is time you step into God’s Word. For in the pages God meets us there and heals us. God might prune our lives of people (and things) in order to show us He is the One who will never leave, never disappoint, and always is enough to fill our dry weary hearts. So go to the Word, friend!
Sarah E. Frazer is a writer and Bible study mentor. Sarah is the wife of Jason and mother of five. She and her family serve as full-time missionaries in Honduras. Her passion is to encourage women to start today with a Bible reading and prayer habit. Sarah is the author of several self-published Bible study resources for women. She shares tools and encouragement for Bible and prayer study on her blog: sarahefrazer.com.