How Reading the Bible in a Year Helped Me Love God’s Word
Even though I grew up in the church and in a Christian family, I had never read the Bible in a single year until 2020. Like so many others, I often began a new year trying to follow a reading plan, but after getting stuck somewhere in Leviticus or Numbers every time, I would give up and go back to following a devotional study.
But this past year, I ditched the reading plan and decided to read the Bible chronologically, letting myself read as much or as little Scripture I could each day. Some days I would read an entire book and other days I would barely read a chapter. Dedicating myself to finish the Bible in a year enabled me to hone in on this spiritual discipline by challenging me to intentionally set apart time everyday to study Scripture, even with a busy schedule as a college student. Rather than following a topical devotional study, by reading the entire Bible in a year, I read parts of the Bible that I had never studied before and learned new stories and wisdom that are not often incorporated in a devotion. It opened my eyes to aspects of Christianity that I had never read about before.
Setting a goal to read the Bible in a year makes reading the Bible more obtainable by having a specific plan and goal, instead of making a vague effort to simply read more Scripture. As a college student who grew up in youth ministry, I wish I had seen the importance of making my Scripture-reading goals more attainable, and while reading the Bible in a year might sound like a lot, my daily journey through God’s Word slowly but surely transformed my relationship with Him into something more intentional and intimate.
Like other spiritual disciplines, reading Scripture grounds us, enabling God to do His work in us by growing us spiritually. And just as running takes hours and miles of practice to build endurance and strength, studying Scripture requires practice as well, in order to see it increase the endurance and strength in your walk of faith and relationship with God. I wish when I was a student that a youth pastor told me that meaningful change does not happen overnight, but happens when we dedicate ourselves to God everyday. Scripture is a gift from God, and if we spend time studying it, we will inevitably grow spiritually and draw closer to Him.
When your students approach you asking how they can develop a better relationship with God, Scripture is one of the first places we should turn. Throughout the course of this past year, the more I dove into Scripture, the more I discovered a newfound love of God’s Word as a source of knowledge and prayer, and a means to develop an intimate relationship with him.
Scripture is a Foundation of Knowledge
In a time of uncertainty and strife throughout the globe, I needed a solid foundation — in a God who is certain and true no matter the circumstances — more than ever. God knew in January when He put the idea and strength within me to give reading the Bible in a year a try that I would need His Scripture as a source of knowledge of Him and His promises during 2020. For our growing and maturing teenagers, it is even more important for them to learn at an early age what their foundation is.
This past year, I realized the importance of knowing what Scripture says about certain topics and struggles we are bound to face as Christ-followers. Having a foundation of knowledge in Scripture serves as a great reminder and comfort during all seasons of life. The everyday issues and struggles that teens face, like self-image or anger or depression, can all be found within Scripture with an answer of how to deal with them and assurance from God. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope “(Romans 15:4).
Studying Scripture also prepares us with knowledge to share it with others. When we study and memorize Scripture, we can have answers ready to the questions unbelievers have about the Gospel and Christianity as a whole. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work “(2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Not only does Scripture help us answer questions from others, but having a foundation of wisdom in Scripture also helps us answer questions we have about our own faith and the nature and law of God. In the chaos of teenage life, Scripture offers godly wisdom and encouragement for students, but more importantly, God’s Word points them directly to Himself.
Scripture Strengthens Us in Prayer
Far too often, when I go to pray I often do not know the words to say or find myself becoming distracted, and I walk away feeling like I haven’t spent genuine time with God. God knows the words of our hearts and unspoken needs and requests before we even say them (Rom. 8:26-27), but He also gave us Scripture to help us vocalize what we feel and want to say when we don’t know how to. When students don’t know how to pray, encourage them to pray with an open Bible.
When we pray with an open Bible, the Holy Spirit takes the words off the pages and embeds them into our hearts so we can have an open conversation with God. Reading the prayers of David or Job often help me express the pain or uncertainty I may not be able to express with my own words. Meditating on God’s promises to Abraham or his fulfillment of the law in Jesus as a prayer helps me to express thanksgiving and adoration to Him. When students fall short on how to describe their everyday struggles and needs to God, we can point them to Scripture where God’s people cried out before Him with the same longings.
Further, we can highlight how God answered these prayers in the Bible. The more I learned to pray Scripture, the more I was also able to receive God’s answer to my prayers within His Word as well. His promises are etched throughout the Bible, and when I turn to Scripture for prayer, His answers are bound to follow.
Scripture Draws Us Into Relationship with God
As our students know, all relationships take time and effort. Friendships require intentionality, curiosity, and commitment to getting to know the other person better and on a deeper level. Unsurprisingly, the same rules apply for a relationship with God. God already knows every detail about us, but we don’t know every detail about Him! While some of His majesty will always escape us, we can look at Scripture to learn so much about His character. The Bible is a portal to God, pointing us to Jesus and teaching us about Him through His Word that He gifted us.
When we turn to Scripture with a sincere heart to learn more about God and to draw closer to Him, He reveals Himself time and time again, and opens up conversation with us through His word. As we learn more about God, we can better comprehend His plan and will for our lives simply by knowing Him more intimately by His revealed Word.
Throughout my yearlong journey through the Bible, God taught me to plant my trust in Him, especially during the most difficult of times, because that’s when He grows us the most. Not only can we encourage our students to plant their trust in God, but also in His Word, which teaches us more about Him and brings us into intimate conversation and relationship with the Author of Life.