Every year many of us make New Year’s resolutions. And every year many of us fail at keeping those resolutions. It’s discouraging enough to make you give up on this practice, particularly when it involves our faith and spiritual life. We hate to fail there. But sometimes we do. Take heart. I’ve got three ways to revamp your spiritual New Years resolutions.
As we begin this list, let me give a warning and a disclaimer. First, I am probably going to step on some spiritual toes here. I’m not afraid to do that if it helps someone. Know I am not in any way saying that these three common goals are bad. They are not. However, for some it creates unnecessary stress and pressure and sometimes guilt when they fail to keep the resolution. My goal is to set us all free from the negative and move forward with the positive.
1. Read The Entire Bible In A Year – Oh how many of us start out well, but fall off sometime in February with the first sick child/own illness, whichever comes first. So, if you’ve not been able to do this yet, have I got a revamp for you. Why not spread it out over two years? The point is to eventually get through every book, right? So if one year hasn’t been working, use two years. Blue Letter Bible has a two-year reading plan (here) as does Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R. C. Sproul (here.)
I do believe a one year plan is good. But if you’ve really been struggling with that or if you really don’t read your Bible every day, then a two-year plan is a great place to start. There is another good option for those who need to set up the discipline of consistently following a plan first (this is me raising my hand here because I struggle with the “consistent” part). The 5×5 plan involves reading 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week. At the end of a year you will have read the entire New Testament. I am doing the 5×5 plan offered by YouVersion. Once you have completed one of these reading plans, it will be easier to attempt the Bible in one year again. Remember, baby steps are better than no steps.
2. Select a verse or word for the year – I have actually selected a verse and a word several times before. However, last year a verse didn’t come to me and this year a word didn’t come to me Well, let me correct myself. Last year I didn’t “receive” a new verse . It was the verse I had from the previous year. I felt as if I wasn’t listening well enough, but I was. God was just saying, “We are not done with this one yet.” This year I didn’t get a sense that God had a new word for me. And I am okay with that. If you don’t feel God presenting you with a new verse or a new word this year, don’t worry. Just because the year is new, it doesn’t mean God is ready for us to move on from the work He has in progress. He does after all run on His own timetable, not ours.
3. Wake up at (insert crazy early time of the morning) to pray and read my Bible – Okay, I know I may get some flack for this one. We usually decide to do this because we’ve heard that Jesus got up early in the morning to go pray to the Father (see Mark 1:35). So, because we are supposed to become more Christ-like, we feel the need to force ourselves to get up early to pray. I am a night owl. I do some of my best writing, thinking, planning and praying at night (or wee hours if I am up really late). So this particular resolution holds little appeal to me. I rather like Luke 5:16 which says Jesus often went off by Himself to pray. No time of day is specified. My perspective is this: God wired us all differently. Some are night owls. Some are early birds. So I believe that God doesn’t really care when we pray or read our Bibles, as long as we do. He’s not surprised when the night owl spends thirty minutes praying or reading at 11pm. Nor is He surprised when He hears from His early bird at 5 am. No matter the time, He is pleased we are connecting with Him. So instead of appointing a specific time for each day, make a resolution to pray and read your Bible every day and then do it. That’s the desired result anyway.
As we look ahead to what a new year can bring and what we can carry out, let’s not get so caught up in resolutions, lists and check boxes that we forget the importance of process and baby steps. Moving forward and growing is important for everyone. But we shouldn’t feel required to make progress in one particular way. My baby steps may look different from yours, but at the end of the day, we’ve both made progress. That is the most important thing – the progress.
Which revamp do you think you might use this year? Leave a comment below. Also feel free to stop by my blog mariettataylor.net to say “hey”. Would love to get know you all.