At the beginning of this year I decided to read the whole bible in one year. I did this with the help and support of the online community 66 Books in a Year. On the website you can find a reading schedule, with four readings per day. On January 1st you start with Genesis 1, Matthew 1, Ezra 1 and Acts 1. Every following day you read the following chapter of each book. By reading four chapters a day from four different books of the bible, you read through the Old Testament once and through the New Testament and the Psalms twice. But that’s not all. Every day, one of the contributors writes a meditation about the readings of that day. This really helps to reflect on what you have read. If you sign up for the email list, you get a daily email with the readings for that day and the meditation.
When I started this challenge in January, I was very dedicated. I read the four chapters each day and if I missed one or two days, I made sure to catch up by reading eight or even twelve chapters the next day. But I have to admit I didn’t keep it up. The summer holidays were especially challenging. First we had visitors here in Tanzania and then we travelled to The Netherlands for vacation. I brought my bible, but I didn’t manage to read the four chapters every day. Then I decided it was ok to miss out a few chapters and just read whatever was on the schedule for each day I did make time to read. That was a lot more relaxing. And to be honest, by the time we read through the New Testament the second time, I often skipped the New Testament readings. My aim was to read the whole bible in one year once, not twice!
The reason that I started this project was twofold. I really wanted to read through the whole bible, to be reminded of what is in there and to read the less familiar parts as well, especially the Old Testament. But I also wanted to find out if it would be possible to find time every day to read the bible and meditate on it. Because I think it is important to take that time every day. Ideally, I would do this early in the morning, but as we have to be up at 6am every schoolday, that doesn’t really work for me. So I ended up doing my reading in the evening, as soon as the kids were in bed. Or if I had a quiet moment during the day, I would do it then.
We are almost at the end of 2013 now. Reading through the bible has been very interesting. I have read chapters and stories that I don’t remember having read ever before. And it’s beautiful to see how all these different stories, letters, poems and songs come together as God’s narrative, God’s message for the world.
Would I do this again? Yes, I think so. Because I still didn’t read the whole bible in one year. And the bible is a book you don’t read only once, but over and over again. Because the words of the bible, the words of God, speak differently to you every time you read them. But next time I would use a different reading plan. For 2014, 66 books in a year will use the ESV Read the Bible in a Year reading plan, with one reading for the morning and one for the evening. I also really like the Kingdom Bible Reading Plan. With this plan, you read all the books of the bible once and the Psalms twice. It has only 25 readings per month, so you can more easily catch up if you miss out a few days. You can download a printable schedule that easily fits in your bible.
But for next year I have other plans. Although it was a good thing to try to read the whole bible, and to take time for it every day, I noticed that I was sometimes more focused on ‘getting it done’, than on taking time to meditate on the words and to pray. This has been a year of reading. I hope to make 2014 a year of prayer.
My parents gave me a beautiful gift for my birthday: Bid, Luister, Leef – dichter bij God, the Dutch version of Common Prayer – A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne. I hope this book will help me to focus more on praying, both in my own words and using the words of others that have gone before us. This book also has a bible reading schedule. If you follow this schedule, you will read the whole bible in two years.
I wish you a blessed and fruitful 2014!
O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you
as the day rises to meet the sun.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
From: Common Prayer