Every year I spend New Year’s Eve (the whole day) contemplating the coming year. Things on the list to be considered include setting goals (like everyone else), examining my finances, considering my health, and–most importantly to me–reflecting on the state of my spiritual health.
I’ve just been through a very rough five years, especially in the last year and half. In the last six months I’ve been experiencing a snowball effect of accumulating trials and tribulations triggered by my very badly broken leg in June 2018. I’ve also taken big, positive steps to mitigate the damage and turn that around, and they’ve been working.
But one area that I’ve felt has been lacking is my spiritual life.
I have been reading through the Bible since September 1997. For the first eight years I did it every single day without fail. That took me through the Old Testament eight times, the New Testament 16 times, the Psalms thirty-two times, and the proverbs ninety-six times. Nine years into this routine the process sort of fell flat with me, so I looked for other ways to center myself and found them. However, they were no replacement for reading the Bible every day, although it took me another fifteen years to figure that out.
Why I started reading the Bible every day is a topic for another book (which I fully intend to write). Why I resumed the practice in January of 2020 is something I’m still figuring out, but already that still center has returned to my life, and it is directly connected to doing this process.
Reading the Bible every day is not about legalism or piety. It is about centering myself, and finding that still, quiet space inside me that is directly connected to the Creative Force of the Universe. You may call that God if it makes you feel more comfortable (that’s what I call it; God has many names—use the one that works for you). Reading the Bible every day is about listening to that still, small voice inside us; the one that gives us insight and wisdom and speaks to us usually through our gut feelings. It’s about training ourselves to hear that voice and trust it.
How does that centering process work? I don’t know, exactly. What I do know is that it does work, and I have identified patterns in the process, but you will have to figure that out for yourself. No one can walk the Path for you. We must all do our own internal work.
This New Year I decided to resume the practice of faithfully reading the Bible every day to see if it will re-root me, spiritually. It occurred to me that there may be others out there feeling the same need for a spiritual reboot, so I have created a FREE worksheet that provides 366 days of daily readings (because it’s a leap year). I have also created a print workbook for those who want to organize their thoughts a little more. I always find organizational tools like this helpful.
Downloading the FREE worksheet or buying the workbook will both get you FREE lifetime access to my Facebook group for anyone who decides they want to try to read the Bible through in a year.
Meanwhile, back to the “why” of reading the Bible every day, and my method of approaching it…
There are roughly twice as many Old Testament books as New Testament books. There are one hundred and fifty Psalms and thirty one Proverbs. If you follow my method you will go through the Old Testament once a year, the New Testament once a year, the Psalms four times a year, and the Proverbs twelve times a year.
Here’s why I have laid it out that way:
- The Old Testament shows us where humans were and how they got there, before the teachings of Jesus.
- The New Testament shows us how Jesus “disrupted” that status quo with his revolutionary ideas.
- The Psalms teach us how to pray.
- The Proverbs teach us how to live.
One day I may expound upon the importance of those items, what I think about them, specifically, and how I figured out that that’s why the four-fold reading process is important. For now I think it’s important for you to discover that for yourself. Every person must walk their own path and find their own way, and the Creative Force of the Universe leads each of us to the path that is meant specifically for us. You may eventually find a different way to read the Bible every day that works better for you, and that would be wonderful. This is just for getting you started and helping you establish the practice. In case you are wondering, I tried a lot of other ways to do this in the fifteen years that I did not read the Bible every single day, but none of them worked for me.
I know the importance of having a tangible guide through uncharted territory; but that’s all my method is—it’s just a guide. Nothing bad will happen to you if you don’t use it. Nothing spectacularly marvelous will happen to you if you do. The Bible is not a fortune teller, and neither am I.
You will get out of this process what you put into it. If you are going to do this, I encourage you to write down your intentions for yourself and the process every day so you can map out over time where you started, where you intended to go, what you hoped would happen, what you discovered, what did and did not work for you, where you ended up on your personal journey, and—this is the most important thing of all—what you learned about yourself in the process.
The Bible is full of ancient wisdom and insight into the mysteries of God and how those mysteries may be at work in your life. Using this workbook and the method I’ve laid out for you here is one way to glean that wisdom and immerse yourself in those mysteries.
It is very important that you understand this: I am not a guru and this book is not a magic formula. The Bible is not a science book, and only provides a very limited view of a very specific history of a very specific group of people. Parts of it are historically accurate, but most of it adheres to the old adage that “history is written by the winners.” This is very important for you to remember when you read books like Leviticus.
Here’s the only Bible commentary and advice I’m going to give you for reading the Bible in this workbook: Leviticus is a book that outlines how Moses created more than six hundred ways to not break the Ten Commandments. Leviticus provides us with a snapshot of the social mores and morals of the Hebrew people at that moment in their cultural development. It is not a guide for how to live our lives to win favor with an angry god. There are other books in the Bible that are full of genocide, murder, rape, slaughter, pillaging, and all manner of other traditional practices from that time that no civil society has continued to practice in at least a hundred and fifty years, and in some cultures even longer than that.
If you find yourself reading something in the Bible that contradicts the law or your own moral conscience, remember that these are stories about people who lived two thousand to three thousand years ago, and they are not meant to be a textbook or provide a checklist for how to live your life. Behave in your own life as federal, state, local, and laws and your own moral conscience dictate, and take what you’ve read in the Bible with a grain of salt when it comes to interpreting “the meaning” of ancient stories about battles and genocides resulting from a Hebrew prophet’s interpretation of what he believed God was telling him to do. Even if God did tell him to do it, that’s what God was telling him to do; not what God is telling you to do today.
That’s enough for now, and more than enough to get started. If this is something you’d like to do, I’ll see you in the Facebook group and we can discuss what we’re learning. We can also discuss it right here on this page, so leave me a comment if you’d like to talk.