The spiritual life is not complicated.
It can be difficult, but it’s not complicated.
Growth in the spiritual life and development in Christlikeness happens as we take in God’s Word and then apply that Word. And taking in God’s Word begins with reading it, then studying it, meditating on it, memorizing it, and finally applying it. The Scriptures are to be absorbed into our lives so that all that we do is compelled by the Word and so that our consciences and hearts are increasingly shaped and ordered by the Word so that in any activity or choice, we are quickly either accused or defended (Rom. 2:14-15).
And that process begins by reading the Bible. Our consciences will not be shaped and our heart desires will not be transformed and our actions will not be changed if we do not read the Bible to discover God’s character and God’s truth and God’s principles.
So whatever our goal for change in 2018 is, that goal must begin with exposure to the Word of God. And while the Scriptures don’t mandate how often or how much to read, even as we take in physical food on a daily basis to sustain our physical health, eating spiritual food on a daily basis to develop our spiritual health is also a good idea. The Bible is our milk (1 Pt. 2:1-3) and food (Heb. 5:11-14) for spiritual growth (2 Pt. 3:18). It must be consumed if we are to mature spiritually.
What should you read in Scripture? How much should you read? Again, the Scriptures don’t mandate a particular plan, so following a particular Bible reading plan does not make one “more spiritual” and not following one does not make one “less spiritual.” Yet a plan does offer a form of structure and accountability that many find beneficial.
There are many different kinds of Bible reading plans. In order to simplify the process, I have typically put together three different plans — the entire Bible in a year (a goal that takes about four chapters a day), the Old Testament in a year (about three chapters a day), and the New Testament in a year (one chapter each weekday). The advantage of the longer reading plans is that they provide an opportunity to see the big pictures of each book through more extensive reading; the advantage of a shorter reading plan is that it offers more time for meditation and examination through more intensive reading.
So pick one of these plans, or find another plan (I was intrigued recently to read of Denny Burk’s plan). Just be sure to read your Bible in the next year.