Growing up in the church I heard again and again that having a quiet time was essential. So there I was, wanting to have a quiet time, but feeling so discouraged the moment I opened my Bible. I didn’t not know where to begin or what to read. I was overwhelmed.

I felt like a terrible Christian. Full of shame. Only learning from others, and never discovering anything about the Bible on my own. It wasn’t until I spent a summer ministering to people in East Asia, that I realized the importance of reading the Bible.

A girl I had become friends with, and shared the gospel to asked me, “Have you read the whole Bible?” In that moment, I wanted to lie, but I knew I shouldn’t. So... I was honest with her. I had to tell her that I had never read the whole Bible. It felt like everything that I had sewn in her life had been uprooted. I was proclaiming the gospel, I was claiming to believe everything that the Bible said as truth, but I did not even know all that it contained. How could I proclaim to believe in something that I did not even dedicate my time to knowing?

Now, I’m not telling you to read the whole Bible, but in order to begin a summer reading plan, you must

1. Discover your Motivation. If you don’t know why you’re reading, it’s going to be hard to find purpose in it. And if you don’t see purpose in it, you’re probably not going to make it a habit. After that conversation with my East Asian friend, I began a reading plan because I wanted to personally know what I was professing.

Motivation can be as simple as, reading the Bible to familiarize yourself with God’s voice. 2 Timothy 3:16—All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. If all scripture is God’s voice, by reading it you will be able to discern His voice better when making decisions, listening to a sermon, teaching/ giving advice to others, and so on.     

2. Pick your Plan.

1. A good resource is YouVersion. They have so many plans to choose from. And you can pick the length (weekly, monthly, or yearly plans) and/or the subject. You choose.

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans

2. SheReadsTruth and HeReadsTruth also have great plans to look through.

Girl: http://shereadstruth.com/plans/  Guy: http://hereadstruth.com/plans/

3. Now if you’re feeling highly motivated, read the Bible in a year. But if you do decide to do this, remember your motivation.

Chronologically. http://static.esvmedia.org/assets/pdfs/rp.chronological.pdf

A little old, a little new. http://shereadstruth.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/SRT-BIAY_PRINTABLE.pdf

3. Or… you can just do your own thing. It’s as simple as that. You can pick a book and read a chapter a day. If you’re feeling New Testament, John is always a great place to start. And if you’re feeling old testament, I’d recommend Ruth, Song of Solomon, Isaiah (the ends the best part), or Hosea. You could even read a different Proverb every day of the month (there’s 31 Proverbs and 31 days in most months). Get creative!

3. Follow Through. Actually do your plan. God’s word is for everyone! You are not the exception. You are smart enough to read it! The Holy Spirit will help you. Acts 4:13—Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

One thing I have found helpful is to pray before I read. Prayer allows you to wait on God before you dive into His word. Sometimes it’s as simple as, “In the name of Jesus Christ I prohibit the enemy from speaking or interfering with this time.” If you ever begin reading and find yourself thinking about your day or getting distracted,

STOP reading, DROP your Bible, & PRAY. Ask God to help you remove distractions. IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO MEET WITH GOD THAN IT IS TO COMPLETE YOUR PLAN.

4. Apply what you Read.

James 1:23-25—For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets, but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. What does it mean to be a doer of the word? I have found it helpful to reflect on what I’ve read so it doesn’t go in on ear and out the other. After you’ve read, you can always:

  • Journal/ prayer journal

  • STABSummarize (what did the passage say), Theme (what was the theme of the passage), Application (how can I apply what I’ve learned), Best/ your favorite verse

  • Memorize a verse that stuck out

  • ASPECTAbout God (what can I learn about God from this passage), Sin (does it talk about any sin), Promise (is there a promise in the word), Example (is there one), Command (is there one), Teaching (what can I learn/ take away)

  • Ask who, what, when, where, & why (answer what you can)

5. Meet with God. Quiet times are not meant to be something else you can check off your list, but a time you can meet with God. So if your plan become a task, take a break. Stop. It’s okay. There’s no shame in that. In fact, there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO MEET WITH GOD THAN IT IS TO COMPLETE YOUR PLAN. Instead of reading, you can listen to worship music or spend time in prayer. When it starts becoming a task, it’s good to think back to your motivation.

So… good luck! God’s word is precious, and I hope you find treasures in it. He speaks through it, it is just a matter of if you’re listening or not.

Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Joshua 1:8—This Book of the Law shall not depart from your your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Katy Smith, media