Ditch Your Bible Reading Checklist

January 08, 2021 · by Heidi Stewart

Now, I know what you’re thinking...

Don’t jump off the train until you figure out where we’re going--you don’t have to call up the people who run this blog quite just yet! I know your heresy alarm bells are going off right now with, “What on earth does she mean, ‘Ditch my Bible reading plan’?!?!” However, that’s just it--notice, I didn’t say to stop your Bible plan, but to stop your Bible reading checklist. There is a difference, and this difference will change your life!

The Norm

You see, every January we pick our Bible reading plans for the year. I’ve done this since I was old enough to read, but I’ll never forget the first time I started one and actually followed through with it. I was seventeen, and our youth leaders had us all doing a chronological reading of the Bible as a group. That year of Bible reading changed things for me. We highlighted verses, we taught lessons, we fell behind and had to catch back up, but we finished it. I learned a valuable lesson about discipline and diligence that year. 

Fast forward a few years to 2020, and our January plan was to use a popular devotional. Can I be honest and tell you that 2020 wrecked that daily habit? I’m not here to make excuses; I’m just here to be transparent and the truth of the matter is, from when Covid hit until about November, I struggled to read my Bible. I felt as if I was totally drained and had no appetite for the Word. Every time I tried to start a plan and stick to it, I wound up overwhelmed and unsatisfied. By the end of the year, I was running on fumes. In November, I bought my mom a book for her birthday that she had asked for a couple of months prior. The title is Eat This Book by Sis. Melani Shock. (You should absolutely go buy it, and I’m getting ready to convince you now.)

I started looking into it after I bought it for my mom, watching videos of Sis. Melani talking about how her book came to be and why it works. Everything sounded good, and I was hungry for something, anything that would help me out of the rut I found myself in. I purchased a copy for myself shortly after, and let me tell you, it was a game-changer.

Basically, it teaches you how to study the Word--no, not how to look up words in a dictionary and pump out three chapters of analyzed text every day to cross it off your morning routine--but how to immerse yourself in God’s precious words to us until it changes you. I went from struggling to check the boxes off on my Bread chart (gotta love ‘em) to getting up earlier for more time to journal, pray, and dwell on the passages I was reading. The Scripture came alive for me in a way I had never personally experienced before (and I’ve been in the church for 21 years).

The most important thing I learned in the mere months I’ve been doing this? The Word is alive. It is not meant to be treated like a textbook to be mangled, figured out, plugged through, and endured. It is meant to change us, to come alive in the exact way we need for the season we’re in. It’s meant to guide our path and keep us. It’s active; it goes forth and doesn’t come back void.

A reading plan is good, don’t get me wrong; it keeps us accountable and it helps us to have something already pre-set to read for the day, but just flying through your three chapters half-asleep and calling it good is...GIRL. You are missing. out.

There’s a quote by Charles Haddon Spurgeon that I feel so perfectly sums up the experience of reading the Bible this way: “Some people like to read so many [Bible] chapters every day. I would not dissuade them from the practice, but I would rather lay my soul asoak in half a dozen verses all day than rinse my hand in several chapters. Oh, to be bathed in a text of Scripture, and to let it be sucked up in your very soul, till it saturates your heart!”

Truly, isn’t that what Bible reading is supposed to do for us? Aren’t we supposed to look into it as a mirror and have it point out the rough areas of our soul that need cleansing and healing? What a tragedy to skim through the Word like a newspaper, picking just a few tingly, feel-good verses to trot out when we need them. I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry to know why these verses were preserved in God’s perfect Word. I want to search out that deep, rich well that is the wisdom of Scripture.

So, ditch your checklist. Don’t make it another task on your agenda. Purpose in your heart to set aside thirty minutes to an hour of your morning for the Word. Read a passage of Psalms, a chapter of Proverbs, and pick another area to study--maybe the Epistles, maybe the daily reading from your plan--but don’t just get through it. Meditate on it, write about it, ask questions, pray for a spirit of understanding; this is how the Word begins to shape and mold us into the very image of God. This is how we hide it in our hearts and let it be our sustenance in an increasingly volatile world.

2021, let’s go deeper.

P.S. You should definitely go buy Eat This Book by Sis. Melani Shock. It can be found on their website at KQMinistries.net. Thank me later. 

Heidi Stewart

About Heidi Stewart

Heidi Stewart is from Del City, Oklahoma, where she and her husband serve in music ministry and as youth workers alongside some of the best people in the world. She has a passion to educate, inspire, and help others reach their full potential through mentoring and discipleship. Her heart’s desire is to live a purposeful life, giving glory to Jesus in all of it, by serving the Kingdom with excellence. Follow Heidi on Instagram at @heidistewarttt