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Although I've read through my Bible numerous ways, until recently, I'd never ventured to a 90-day Bible reading plan. It usually takes me 1-2 years (sometimes even 3, if I'm in a busy season of life) to read through the entirety of God's Word, so the idea of consuming it in a mere 3 months was a bit daunting.
More than that, I wasn't exactly sure I could finish, and I also wasn't sure whether or not it was even a good idea. I once read my Bible every day for over 5 years without actually applying it, and I was concerned that a 90-day plan would just encourage more of this "read it and leave it" issue that I've often struggled with.
After some consideration, I finally committed to the challenge this past February. It was extremely difficult to keep up with the daily reading portions, but by the end of April, I had successfully finished my very first 90-Day Bible Reading Plan.
I learned so much from this exercise that I felt I should share some of my takeaways in the hopes that my experience will help you decide whether or not you would benefit from reading your Bible in 90 days, too.
Believe it or not, there are actually numerous drawbacks for doing a 90-day Bible reading challenge! Because we are sinners living in a fallen world, there are reasons that some people should NOT try this kind of Scripture challenge.
It's a HUGE time commitment
First of all, reading the Bible in a mere 90 days is a BIG commitment. I can't stress this point enough. You won't be able to casually do a bit of reading here or there and expect to consume the entirety of God's Word in 3 months.
You're going to need to set aside a dedicated hour or so every day in order to accomplish this. Yes, a faster reader could do it more quickly, and you can break up that time into more frequent, shorter sessions throughout the day.
But since the point of this is to learn from the Scriptures and not to do it simply for the sake of accomplishment, I highly encourage you to plan for at least an hour per day. This way, you'll have time to really soak in Biblical truth and be able to jot down a few thoughts from the day's reading.
It can lead to frustration
Reading your Bible every day for at least an hour can get tedious. While that's our sinful human nature showing up, it's much better to realize that this will probably happen rather than get caught off guard.
I love my Bible, and I love reading and learning from it each day. But this kind of mass-scale reading can get frustrating, especially if you fall behind at all and have to read extra on certain days (don't ask me how many times this happened; I'll simply say that I played catch-up a LOT). Be prepared that you might get frustrated at times.
It's not ideal for all stages in life
There are times in life where a 90-day Bible reading plan can be a good thing. But there are also many situations in life where it's simply not ideal. If you're a new mom, have a super hectic work schedule, are having trouble getting enough sleep, or are battling some form of illness, I would NOT recommend trying it.
This kind of reading plan is best for someone whose littles are sleeping through the night, who are able to carve out that much-needed hour of solace, and who have a desire to accomplish something like this.
It can limit your ability to dive deeper in true study
Because it takes so much time just to do the daily reading assignment, a 90-day Bible reading plan can limit your ability to dive deeper into true Bible study. Your time is more limited, and humanly speaking, you may be mentally spent after doing the reading portion alone. You many not have time, desire, or energy to do much study. I didn't.
It can eclipse the smaller themes throughout the Bible
While reading through the entire Bible in a short period of time can help you find the overarching themes throughout Scripture, it's also possible to miss or gloss over the smaller themes. It's just something that naturally happens when you're reading quickly.
It can puff you up
Dare I say it? Completing a 90-day challenge like this has the possibility of opening up the door to pride. I'm the kind of person who prefers doing to being, and I love checking things off my to-do list. I love the feel of accomplishment, as though my worth were somehow expanded based on the number of things I complete. If you're like me, reading your Bible in 90 days can puff you up if you're not on your guard.
It can cause you to resent God's Word
Only you know where you're at in your relationship with Christ. If you have genuine faith and are continuing to grow spiritually, you're going to love this Bible challenge. But if you're already feeling frustrated that you "have" to read your Bible and don't have that much of an interest in spiritual things, doing something like this could cause you to resent God's Word. It's that old sin nature rearing its ugly head again.
(On the flip side, though, it might also cause you to grow in your love of and appreciation for Scripture, but I'll share more on that point below.)
Yes, there are drawbacks to reading your Bible in 90 days. But there are an equal number of benefits, and I personally feel that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. A 90-day Bible reading plan isn't the easiest thing I've ever done. But it did amazing things for my spiritual growth, so much so that I anticipate I'll benefit from doing so for years to come.
It can do worlds of good for your spiritual growth
Reading through God's Word in a mere 90 days can be excellent for spiritual growth. Since it requires such a commitment of time, you're forced to do away with several non-essentials in order to make time for it. I found that things like scrolling through social media, watching television, and aimlessly wandering around the house (yes, I actually do this quite a bit!), all had to go if I were going to reach my goal.
More than that, spending this kind of daily time reading though Scripture will naturally strengthen your understanding of God's commandments, encourage you to more fully imitate Christ, and do away with sinful behavior.
It reveals the larger themes throughout the Bible
Although a 90-day reading plan might eclipse some of the smaller Biblical themes, the flip side is that it magnifies the larger themes of grace, redemption, and forgiveness in ways that a long journey through Scripture might not.
Having just read Genesis weeks before visiting Revelation is simply amazing. To see Christ's death, resurrection, and triumph over sin predicted at the beginning of the Bible and then following up shortly with His completion of it all is unlike anything else I've experienced in my Christian walk.
It familiarizes you with vast quantities of God's Word
Because a 90-day journey through God's Word is so fast, no matter where your pastor is preaching from, no matter what Scripture passage you hear read on the radio, no matter what verse is printed on the back of a bookmark, you'll feel as though you "just" read it. It will have a sweet familiarity that you might not have experienced otherwise.
You'll begin to notice in an entirely new way how the Lord ties all Scripture together, how the Holy Spirit brings every part of God's Word to overlap and help you wherever you're at in your walk with Christ. It's nothing short of miraculous!
It can cause you to love God's Word
I once knew two young men (completely unrelated) whose Godly mothers insisted that they each read their Bibles daily. One of the young men said that this was the best thing his mother could have done for him, that the exercise caused him to fall in love with God's Word and ultimately brought him to a saving knowledge of Christ.
The other, however, resented his mother for insisting he do so, claiming that he now hated to read his Bible since he had been forced to do it as a child. These two's opposite reactions were incredible!
The same can be true of a 90-day reading plan. While it may cause some to loathe the reading of God's Word (see above), it can also cause you to love it in an entirely new and fresh way. Because you get a new perspective and become familiar all over again with the truths in the Bible, it can foster a deep-seeded love of and appreciation for all that the Lord has done on your behalf.
Tips for successfully completing a 90-day Bible reading plan
There is definitely a LOT to consider before jumping into a 90-day Bible reading plan! If, after reading through the pros and cons, you feel the Lord leading you to do it, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success.
Choose a start date wisely
Most goals, diets, and exercise plans start in January or on a Monday. Fresh beginnings, like at the start of the year or the start of the week, make sense...in theory. But just because they work for others doesn't mean they'll be most ideal for you.
As an example, my family has a LOT of birthdays in January. Add to that the New Year holiday and the start of the second semester of school, and January, for me, is a most UN-idea time to start anything! For my 90-day challenge, I began in February because it was a better fit for me than January was.
If you have a big family vacation coming up or some other big event like that, I'd recommend you start your own 90-day reading plan after it's behind you. You want to set yourself up for success, and trying to start something like this when other life events will make it difficult isn't the best way to go.
So, choose an ideal start date that fits your family and life circumstances. Trust me, it will make a huge difference!
Select a plan with built-in catch-up days
The 90-day plan that I followed had two built-in catch-up days. You don't know when you might wake up with a sick child, a work disaster, or something else unforeseen. It's incredibly difficult to try to catch up when you fall behind, so having a few extra days worked into the plan can be the difference between success and failure.
Find an accountability partner
My mom graciously agreed to read along with me. Although we didn't check in every single day, just knowing that she would be asking me whether or not I was staying on top of my reading was super motivating and encouraging. Also, we could chat about the things that we noticed as we read. It was wonderful having a support person to cheer me on, and I don't think I would have been able to finish were it not for my mom's keeping me accountable.
If you want to try your own 90-day reading plan, find someone - a spouse, friend, child, mentor - who is willing to read along with you.
Invest in the tools you need
Did you know that there is such a thing as a 90-Day Bible? I didn't! When I first learned that one existed, I hesitated purchasing it. After all, I didn't need another Bible, and it felt a little silly buying one when I could simply print out a 90-day plan and follow along in my regular Bible.
But the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that a 90-Day Bible would be key to my success. I tend to get bogged down in my study Bible's footnotes and publisher's snippets. Plus, since the pages of my regular Bible aren't uniform (some have more footnotes and blurbs than other pages), I was concerned about getting lost once I got a few days into my reading plan.
So, I bought the 90-Day Bible. It was well worth it, and I would encourage you to consider getting your own copy if you're serious about reading through the Bible in 90 days. This particular printing makes it fairly easy to complete your 90-day reading goal by breaking things down into just 12 pages a day (or just 6 pages, if you count front and back as a single page). It also provides some helpful hints for finishing in the time allotted, gives you a check list of each day's reading, and has a notes section in the back for writing down spiritual truths you glean as you go.
The only caveat is that, as far as I am aware, it is only available in the NIV (I really dislike the way the NIV now uses the plural "they/them" for gender-neutral singular pronouns - it just grates on my grammar-nerd nerves). My personal preference is for NKJV (it's what I grew up on), and I have many friends who feel that either the KJV or NASB are the best translations. If translation is an issue for you, you may prefer a print-out reference like this one to use with your favorite Bible.
If you're an auditory learner, spend a lot of time in your car, or need to do dishes or housework as you go, you might consider using BibleGateway.com or BlueLetterBible.org (both are free!) to read your daily assignments to you. My mom often listened to recordings while following along in her Bible, and this method worked really well for her.
Consider whether or not you need a reading lamp, highlighters, or magnifying glass to aid you as you read. Most of these items are inexpensive, and the last thing you need when reading your Bible in 90 days is an excuse to quit due to eye strain or lack of tools. On the flip side of that, though, you certainly don't need to go out and purchase these things if they're not items you normally need. Just dive in and start reading!
Reading through your Bible in 90 days is a big undertaking. There are definite pros and cons to consider before embarking on such a journey, but if you feel the Lord leading you to do this, I believe you will find it well worth the effort and will reap the spiritual benefits for years to come!
Tell me: have you ever done a 90-day Bible reading plan? If so, what did you learn? If not, is this something you'd consider doing in the future? I'd love to know!