I'm reading the through the Bible in 100 days. Yes, 100 days. I've never read through the Bible that quickly. Oh, I tried once to read from cover to cover in 90 days. I failed. I'm not sure I even made it out of Genesis. I've avoided a reading plan that like ever since. But this time? I'm over half-way through Exodus, so I consider this time through much more successful already!
What's the difference this time around? I knew I had some obstacles to overcome in order to successfully read the whole Bible in 100 days. So, I made specific plans. These are the five things that I'm doing to set myself up for success in reading the Bible in 100 days. If you're using a read the Bible in 90 days plan or even a year, these things still apply.
1. Read with a Friend
The biggest factor in my failure the last time I tried to read the Bible through in such a short period of time was the lack of accountability. I thought I could do it on my own.
Part of being a Christ-follower is also living in community. This time I was hoping that I could find a local friend who would read with me, but that didn't happen. There is a large group of people reading through the Bible in 100 days right now and a great community for this on Facebook, but I need something more personal. In the end, I partnered with a fellow blogger and online friend Tauna from The Proverbial Homemaker. While we are not local to each other, we are in the same time zone and have similar struggles with balancing work, family, and our reading. We check in via a quick Facebook message each day to report that we're reading, when we finish reading, and any prayer requests for the day.
Find at least one person to read through the Bible with you. Decide on a way to check in with each other: phone call, text message, Facebook, or some other way. There's something motivating about knowing that someone is reading with you. When you know someone is going to ask you if you finished your reading, you're more likely to make a way to fit that reading into your day.
2. Decide When To Read Each Day
Reading the Bible in 100 days in a big time commitment. I have a busy schedule and I'm sure you do too. If I don't make a plan for when to read each day, it just isn't going to happen. Sad, but true. If I didn't decide ahead of time when I would read each day, I knew I'd find myself remembering I hadn't done my reading after I'd crawled into bed for the night. Then, I'd have to make a choice: push myself to read or try to catch up tomorrow. Either way I'd feel guilt and shame.
To avoid this rush of frustration each night, I made a plan for when to read. I calculated that I needed to plan for about an hour to get through the reading for the day. I knew I needed to start my reading as early as possible in the day in order to have any hope of finishing. I talked with my husband and we decided to revamp our morning routine. He has taken on supervising daily devotions with our oldest son before leaving for work. Despite my struggles with adrenal fatigue and depression, I had to make the choice to get up earlier. My goal is to be sitting down and reading by 7am. Knowing that I need about an hour (accounting for the inevitable interruptions), I'm able to finish by around 8am. If I'm not able to finish by that time, I generally have to move on to homeschooling and taking care of things around the house. At that point, I at least have had enough time to get a good start on the reading. I can continue to read in chunks through the day as I can sneak it in. And, if I find myself falling into bed with reading incomplete, it is more likely that I only have a chapter or two left instead of 10.
Determine the best time of day for you to read. What does a normal day look like for you? What about your personality and your other responsibilities? You might have to make some changes to your routine. You might also have to make some tough or uncomfortable choices.
3. Plan for Unusual Days
My weekdays fall into a standard and predictable routine. Breakfast, homeschool, lunch, work, dinner, bed. But, my weekends are a completely different story. I never seem to know what my Saturdays and Sundays will look like. I needed a different plan for these unusual days. I knew if I got behind on my reading because of these types of days, I would want to quit.
My plan is to try to get ahead on my reading on Fridays. If I can squeeze in the time, I'm attempting to read the chapters scheduled for Saturday and Sunday ahead of time. On Saturdays and Sundays, I decide that morning when I will try to read based on our plans for the day. But, I had to make a conscious decision. If I don't make it through the reading for the day, I will not beat myself up and I will not quit. I will read before bed if possible. As a last resort, I will use Mondays to catch up.
Decide in advance how you will handle unusual days or changes in schedule. Your problem day might not be the same as mine. It might be a week day that your spouse has a regular week day off from work. What about sick days? What if you oversleep or something else unexpected cuts into your planned reading time?
4. Make Reading Simple and Portable
I have a ESV Study Bible. I love that Bible. The study notes are great. The cross-references are wonderful. But, the size, the notes, and the cross-references can be distracting when trying to read through the whole Bible in a short period of time. It's hard to read that Bible with little boys climbing into my lap. I can't carry that Bible with me easily on the go. Going digital solves those problems for me.
I made the decision to make my reading simple and portable by using my iPad Mini, but using my iPhone as a backup on the go. I needed an iOS app that worked across devices. One option is the YouVersion Bible App. It's free and available on every major platform including web browser. Another option is the Logos App. There are plenty of other apps out there, but these two are my favorite.
I've been a long-time user of the YouVersion Bible App. You can choose your favorite Bible version from the long list of options. It has a Bible in 90 days reading plan option built-in. You can make notes. You can highlight verses. It's a great choice, but I really wanted something with a few additional features for reading through the Bible in 100 days.
I had updated the Logos software on my computer a few months ago. Their Logos App connects to my full library of resources in the cloud and my notes sync across devices too. But, here's the real clincher for me and why I chose to read with the Logos App: advanced marking options including inductive symbols. Basically, that means that I can mark any individual or group of words in a verse or verses in a multitude of ways, including the use of a set of basic symbols similar to what I use when hand marking my paper Bible. It gets even better because while those markings show visually on top of the Bible text, but they are also stored as “notes” which are synced across devices. If I happen to read from my iPhone instead of my iPad or if I need to use my computer program or the web browser access, I can see all of those markings and continue to use the same method as I read.
Determine the simplest and most portable way for you to read the Bible. Going digital? Try several apps to find your favorite. You might hate the idea of reading on a screen instead of paper. Your usual Bible might be perfect, but you have to find a way to remember to toss it in your purse or bag if you're reading out of the house. Or maybe you need to buy a new smaller Bible?
5. Choose a Focus
The Bible is a long book. It's really 66 books combined into one. The opportunities to take rabbit trails abound. I knew needed something to focus on as I read. A theme or a topic. I don't have time in a typical day to inductively mark up whole verses or passages and certainly not whole books in one pass. I can't think about or meditate on every word. I needed something smaller. I needed a focus.
I chose to focus on God. After a crazy year of changes, I need to feel grounded and rooted. Looking at God and for God is what I feel I need right now. I'm watching for each time a word for God is used. Specifically, I'm using inductive marking methods for God's names and the pronouns referring to Him. Once I can see those words visually, I'm paying special attention to the words that are attributed to God, what He says about Himself, what He commands, and the contrast to other people and things around those words in context.
Pick a word or theme to focus on as you read. Is there a topic you want to know more about? A word that intrigues you? Or are you like me right now and just need to see God clearly?
The Bible From Cover to Cover
I commend you for even attempting to read the Bible in such a short time period. Many people never read the Bible from cover to cover in their whole lifetime. Many give up trying to read the Bible through in a year. Reading that much in about a quarter of a year is a major goal. I pray that you will succeed. I trust if you and I both make and follow through with these five decisions, we will make it to the end of the Bible. I also pray that you'll consider making it a goal to read the entire Bible with your kids.
Have you ever read through the whole Bible? In a year? In 90 or 100 days? What are your best tips for success? Share with me in the comments!