Well, the truth is I already have a daily Bible study. But I felt compelled to experiment a while back, and so this additional 365-day jaunt has been a little foray of sorts into a different type of Bible study to find out what I could learn. It also differs from my usual daily readings in that I set some specific rules for myself beforehand:
1. It had to be a little chunk or passage of Scripture – more than a know’n’go verse scanned blankly in the afternoon.
2. I deliberately chose not to have reading dictated by theme, arrangement, or content and used a program that basically spat out chunks of Scripture from the entire Bible, without repeating, for a year. I wanted to see what would happen when I wasn’t reading something I “wanted” to read, or when I wasn’t reading to solve a problem/get an answer: when I was reading-as-disciple as opposed to reading-for-use.
3. I had to read within context, so if that meant I had to read some supplementary stuff to round everything out, so be it.
4. This was in addition to, not in place of, my general daily Bible study.
5. If I forgot a day (and I did!) I had to make it up.
I’ll be finished, God willing, in May. But I have learned some interesting things from this so far, and I thought I’d share them with you because they were enlightening to me.
First, I learned that I don’t know the Bible as well as I think I do. I have read it many times. I am well-acquainted with Scripture. And yet, upon being presented with certain passages, they would seem unfamiliar to me – even if they were in larger chapters or books I’d read before! This made me realize that when I am doing my “normal” Bible study, I must fall into a brain-rut where I pay attention to the same things in a chapter or miss out on certain pieces because I am automatically on the lookout for others. It’s a good argument to shake up how you read Scripture.
Two, I learned that too often I use the Bible as a tool for personal satisfaction rather than as a means to know God. I frequently found myself getting irritated because very little of what I read “related” to what I wanted right then. It’d be a bad day, and I’d read a blithe, joyful verse – or a great day, and I’d read some portentous chunk from a prophetic book. This taught me that I depend on God’s word a lot to do things for me, but less often go to it with the thought of growing closer to God.
Third, I learned that the small act of daily discipline engenders long-term growth. Brushing your teeth one night seems to have little impact in the short-term, except maybe on your breath, but over a long period you see the evidence of daily brushing–or the lack of it. Not so different with Scripture, either. Reading the Bible daily has influenced in ways that I am not even sure I can completely articulate consciously: it works quietly below the level of active thought. And it makes a difference, long-term, in what I behave and how I do.
Finally, the act of studying Scripture orients me to God daily. It’s odd but, whether or not I actually feel deeply enriched or not by the Scripture I read for the day, I feel like the act of engaging with it (without seeking something for myself) is a gate-opening. It puts God on my mind. It sets a tone: “I am here, and You are here, and this is where we will begin.” Even if I don’t think about that Scripture again for the whole rest of the day, I have started with God and He is on my mind and that really does frame the day in a way that is unexpected and helpful.
So, in short: this has been a very helpful experiment for me. When I’m finished with the 365 days, I hope to integrate some of what I’ve learned from it into my “regular” Bible study. And I was hoping that maybe some of these thoughts and discoveries could help you, too.