Regular Bible reading is like knitting or embroidering; design and commitment are needed. The word “text” means, “to weave.” Those who knit or embroider first began with a plan. There was that first pair of booties …There was a goal. So it is with weaving God’s Word into life. Deliberate, intentional plans need to be made anddaily dedication. In time God’s Word will become the center design in the fabric of life.
Here are a few suggestions to build the habit of reading the Bible daily. Begin by praying for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Read the Firestarter and the passage. As you read, lightly draw a vertical line in pencil in your Bible near the verses or sections of the reading that attract your attention in a special way. This is the Holy Spirit moving in you. If you have your Bible nearby throughout the day, you can quickly refer to the reading. In this way, even brief moments of transition can become pauses that refresh and renew your day with the Word.
I find it helpful to look over the reading the evening before. In this way, a spiritual momentum will carry you into the night—perhaps through your dreams—to the waking day. If a day has several chapters, see if you can pray them in the morning, afternoon and evening. Take the passage and key verses of it as God’s way of being with you that day. What rises from the page of the Bible as key issues in your life? How are you challenged to live your life as a disciple of Jesus? By being creative with your devotion to the Bible, a sacred context will be forming itself in your life, shared with many others joining you on the journey. A habit will take shape like morning coffee. If you miss a day … no bother; no need to catch up; the reading will return again in three years. This is “guiltless” Bible reading! It is not about making a project out of reading the whole Bible—feeling badly, if you fail. Rather than “covering” the Bible, the Bible will “cover” you, protecting you as the shadow of God’s wings.
As you read the daily passage, be on the lookout for a small part of it that could be used as a time of devotion with members of your family or small group. The plan can enrich the spiritual lives of couples as they seek to allow God’s Word to direct their lives. Sharing the three-year journey with at least one other person deepens the experience. Spiritual conversations, and what John Wesley calls “Holy Conferencing” will take place. When you are talking with another, you might describe the reading as a story in your own words and share what the reading means for you.
There is an ancient method of prayer, which takes brief phrases of seven syllables and blends them with breath—three syllables on the inhale, three on the exhale and one syllable for rest. Without necessarily being so strict, you can create what I call Bible Breaths, prayer-phrases or sentences that catch the main points of the daily reading. They have two parts made up of a few syllables for inhales and exhales. For example: [inhale] You, O Lord—[exhale] are my shepherd. We use the phrase, “Take a breather” when there’s need to stop the pace of life for a moment. The article “Timescaping” expands on this theme.
I encourage you to keep a Bible Journal. God can speak to your heart by using the hand that holds your pen! It is a way to listen to God. The same Holy Spirit that was at work in the sacred writers of the books of the Bible is at work inspiring you. Various helpful formats such as a three-ring binder with pages correspond to the daily readings of the week. Smaller notebooks may be preferred—perhaps one for each of the twelve seasons across the three years. I recommend keeping a separate page for each day of the week, as well as a separate section or notebook for the Torah readings since these do not occur in the same weeks every year. By using the abbreviations found on the tags at the edge of each week and for the Torah readings, it will be easy to find your own notes on a given day of any week. For example, a separate page for Mon. 3PeB offers space for you to take notes on the reading for that day, Hosea 3—4. Include the current date just below the days of the sacred week or the Torah passage. When you return to these pages in your journal, you will be gazing at how that particular passage blended with your life three years ago. If you are faithful to this discipline, you will be creating your own, personal Bible journal that will bear the imprint of the Holy Spirit on your soul for the rest of your life.
As an added feature, object lessons called “Alphabytes” begin each week, following the alphabet two times each year. From A to Z, you will sense the movement of the year. These are found at the beginning of each of the seasons in Year A.
One more suggestion: I use seven 1-inch removable tabs or small post-it notes placed at the pages of my Bible that correspond to the readings for those days. This makes it easy to turn to all the readings of a given week. Either one of two ways is suggested:
1. Print the names of the parts of the Bible on the tabs or notes and place them descending from the top to the bottom corners of your Bible on the pages of the current reading for each book in the order in which they occur in the Bible, e.g., TORAH • WRITINGS • PSALMS • PROPHETS • GOSPEL–SUN • GOSPEL-FRI • NEW TESTAMENT or, 2. Print the days of the week and simply have them positioned from Sunday to Saturday descending from the top to the bottom corners of your Bible at the particular pages of the parts of the Bible to which the days of the week are dedicated.
One day at a time we will be bonded together in common passages from the Bible, weaving themselves year after year. The Bible text will become the Bible “texture” and context of life. Then there will come a future season when you and I will simply step into eternal communion with the Word in the Kingdom of Heaven.