Busy Seasons and Bible Reading
If you’re like me and love a good Bible-reading plan, you’ve probably experienced some nervousness around the busier seasons. Holidays, birthdays, vacations, and just busy parts of life seem to trigger guilt feelings for skipping a few days.
Whenever busy seasons approach, we resort to feeling bad for falling behind in our Bible reading. But the truth is that it’s okay to take a pause. We’re not actually falling behind. It’s better to set it aside altogether and to simply come back to it later.
Pausing our Bible-reading plans doesn’t mean we are pausing our relationship with God. Whether we read every single day or take a pause during the busier seasons, it’s important to trust in and rely on the Holy Spirit as our Helper. He will remind us of His Word and help us keep it.
Personally, this was hard for me to understand at first. I got used to feeling guilty and would stomp my foot in determination to read twice as much (even in the busy seasons). But the Holy Spirit helped me understand something that totally transformed my Bible reading during the busy seasons.
First, He revealed that the word is already in us. Even when we don’t have scripture memorized, we must remember that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live in us and to lead us into truth daily. This means that we can maintain our relationship with Him apart from Bible reading. That’s right! Bible reading is a vital part to our spiritual growth and intimacy with Him, and shouldn’t get neglected long-term, but when life gets busy, it can easily become a religious task or a stress-factor instead of our means to grow in Him.
Second, it’s not about how much we read. Our relationship with God isn’t based on the quantity of our Bible reading intake. He doesn’t tally us for skipping a day of Bible reading. If we read to check it off the list, it will not be effective. When we recognize that it’s not about how much we read but what we read, this truth relieves us of the pressure to stick to a schedule religiously. It helps us simplify our Bible reading overall, resulting in effective growth in God.
In this post, I want to share four ways to simplify our Bible reading during the busy seasons. Taking a pause is helpful at times, but there are ways to simplify our reading to not get religious with it or resort to feeling bad and guilty.
4 Simplified Ways to Read the Bible
This Book of the Law shall not depart from 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.JOSHUA 1:8
One-A-Day is one of the most simplified ways to read the Bible without getting overwhelmed.
With this method, create a list of scripture passages for a certain number of days and read One-A-Day. You can choose randomly on the go, but during a busy season, it’s helpful to get prepared ahead of time. You can do one verse per day, one chapter, or even one of the smaller books if you have the time for it.
By sticking to One-A-Day, you simplify your goal to read the Bible daily and make it achievable despite your busy season. This saves you from the pressure, from stressing out, falling behind, and feeling bad about not reading enough.
Again, it’s important to not get caught up with how little or how much you read in general. Look at it like a meal for your spirit. It’s your spiritual intake. You’re not reading to check it off the list, but to feed your spirit.
As you read One-A-Day, get your phone’s notes app or a dedicated notebook and write down one or two thoughts about what you read. You could even use sticky-notes or text a friend or yourself. This way, you set yourself up to meditate on this scripture. Writing or sharing it with a friend puts it at the forefront of your mind, which influences your mindset and behavior, and causes you to grow.
Use these verses for an upcoming busy week as a starter!
Read First, Then Study
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.COLOSSIANS 3:16
If you’re the kind of person who reads and studies in-depth, I encourage you to Read First, Then Study. I use this method the most!
Instead of reading and studying simultaneously, put all resources and commentaries aside and grab one writing utensil (highlighter, pen, pencil) for your Bible. Read through the chapter or section you selected and mark or highlight what stands out to you as you read. After your reading, go back and study the marked or highlighted parts.
The parts you marked up caught your attention for a reason. Often, it was the Holy Spirit who emphasized these for you. He knows what your spirit needs during this busy season. When something stands out to us during our reading, we’re more likely to remember and meditate on it throughout the day.
If you don’t have time to go back and study those highlighted sections, save it for your next time of devotion. This might slow down how much Bible reading you accomplish, but it is much more effective than pressuring yourself into a rigid Bible plan.
Instead of taking it verse by verse, the Read First, Then Study method will help you get through passages more effectively, causing the word of Christ to actually dwell richly in you as it says in Colossians 3:16.
Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.PROVERBS 7:3
The On-the-Go method is exactly as it sounds. Read or listen to your Bible On-the-Go.
Nowadays, we carry our phones everywhere with us, so the Bible is literally at our fingertips. There are all kinds of Bible apps that have Bible reading plans built into them and podcast channels that talk about or read through Bible chapters.
We can download and subscribe to these and read or listen On-the-Go. There are also handy pocket-size Bibles that we can keep in our purses or book-bags, in rooms like the kitchen or bathroom, and even in our cars.
The point is not to check it off the list, but to read or listen when you have time in your busy season. Instead of scrolling on social media while waiting in line at the grocery store or using the restroom, read the Bible On-the-Go. When driving or getting ready in the mornings, listen to the Bible on a Bible podcast or Bible app.
This way, you’re On-the-Go and getting some food for thought and for your spirit.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.JOHN 16:33
Finally, there are thousands of Bible devotionals published by various Christian leaders. Even though I love reading the Bible on my own, there are seasons when a devotional is more effective.
There are thousands, possibly millions, devotionals, but here I’ve compiled a short list of my favorites. These Scripture-Devo’s provide more than just the author’s thoughts, but insight into the scripture’s context and practical applications.
We must still rely on God to give us fresh revelations and understandings of what is being taught. If there’s something we get confused about or challenged with, it’s important to turn to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to guide us into truth. The following devotionals are ones I have read and recommend (not part of affiliate marketing):
- Prevail by Susie Larson
- 365 One-Minute Meditations: God Calling
- Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God Is Holding You Close by Lysa Terkeurst
As we enter busy seasons, let’s remember that the Holy Spirit is with us and in us. Whether we decide it’s best to pause or to continue reading in a simplified way, we must remind ourselves that the amount of Bible reading we do does not define our relationship with God.
No matter how busy we get, let’s practice asking the Holy Spirit to help us find the best rhythm every day, and trust Him to bring us into a deeper knowledge and revelation of Jesus.
How do you read the Bible during your busy season? Do you pause or simplify your plan?