The Bible, Jesus, and Check Marks

So when I was in college, “The Rule” (or at least the way I remember the Rule) was you had at least one half hour at 6 a.m. in a Solitary Place for your Official Quiet Time – 10 minutes of prayer time and 20 minutes of Bible reading.  Extra credit for journaling and lighting a candle. The truly Spiritual would be silent and HEAR A WORD FROM THE LORD. It felt legalistic and a little oppressive rather than life-giving, but what the heck, I’m a first born rule-follower so I gave it my best shot.

Then I grew up and realized (maybe in one of my Official Morning Quiet Times) that Jesus never Tweeted about #quiettime. He never added an 11th commandment about rules, regulations and minute breakdown for what was the minimal requirement for time with Him.

Instead He said, “Come to me…”, “Abide in Me”, “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace…”come to me

So I leaned into the freedom of a relationship that allowed me to walk and talk with Jesus out in His creation, to use different prayer practices at different times of the day, to read and memorize and pray the Word in different ways and use different devotionals and apps.

Because of my past “have to” experience I was a little nervous in January about committing to a “Read the Bible in a Year”* plan.  Would it feel legalistic? Would it just be one more thing to check off my to-do list? Would it drain the joy out of my relationship with Jesus?

Turns out I’ve been surprised and amazed at the power this daily plan has had in my life. I’ve always started the day with Jesus, but  this systematic, disciplined reading has made a difference – passages from the Old Testament/Psalms or Proverbs/New Testament every day.

As you can see from the picture below, NOT all my days have check marks and that’s just FINE!! It’s all about grace, grace, more grace and JESUS, not check marks!

I’ve also chosen the Message paraphrase so it’s a fresh take…less familiar.Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 6.27.25 AM


Even if I skim part of my reading (there was a bit of that in the book of Numbers 🙂 ), it’s like the waves of the surf washing over me as I sit on the beach. It’s a BIG reminder of God’s presence and involvement in my life, and often small, specific reminders of His will, my shortcomings, His sufficiency… And in some unquantifiable way it impacts the rest of my day. Like getting oriented to true North.

Anyway, a Bible in a Year reading plan may not be for everyone, but I thought I’d share that it’s been valuable for me.

When you open God’s Word, He opens His mouth. Mark Batterson

What is a practice that has made a difference in your life? Have you been discouraged by a legalistic approach to your relationship with Jesus?

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

* I use the plan with commentary by Nikki Gumbel. He draws the different passages together with a theme each day.


  1. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

    As I read this scripture within your devotion, I heard my Lord affirm His comforting presence within my grief. I love when He does that.

    • Penny I am so, so sorry for your grief, but am also so thankful that the Holy Spirit whispered to you some comfort through His Word this morning.

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