When it takes you two years and nine months to complete your two-year Bible reading plan, you can look at it one of two ways.
You can feel guilty that it took you that long to get through it (mostly because you don’t do it on weekends or during vacations). Or you can be grateful that the process reignited a love of structured Bible reading that sort of got buried during several years of exhausted living.
I’m not a fan of unproductive guilt trips, so I chose the second option. And a short while later, I began the plan all over again. Not to see if I could beat my previous time, but because I really enjoyed it.
I didn’t wait for what might seem like a logical time to begin again either. I started my second run-through on Sept. 6 by reading two chapters specified for that day—Romans 16 and Psalm 56. (The plan includes a daily reading from either Psalms or Proverbs, along with a passage from the Old or New Testament.)
I love the practical theology in the Apostle Paul’s writing, so digging into that part of the New Testament held my attention for a few months. The cultural relevance of books by Peter, James and John struck me anew this time around. But when I started to see the Book of Revelation looming up ahead, my enthusiasm waned just a bit.
I don’t know about you, but I find Revelation hard to understand. I wanted something concrete to guide me as I read—something that would keep me focused through all the talk of scrolls, seals, trumpets and beasts.
That’s when I came up with a simple idea that is, quite honestly, transforming the way I read the Bible. Beginning with the first verse of Revelation, I started writing down every name and description of God I came across in my reading for each day.
The Almighty. Ruler of the kings of the earth. Creator of all things.
I found an old journal, opened to a clean page and began making a numbered list. At first, I tried not to include repeated names, but I soon got tired of flipping back to see whether I had already recorded a particular title. If the Bible uses the name again, I decided, it’s worth writing it down again.
The Amen. Faithful and True. The One who examines thoughts and emotions.
I’ve read the Bible through several times in my life. I’ve even done studies on the names of God. But I never before realized how frequently and how beautifully God is described within the pages of His own Word—not until I started writing them all down.
A tester of hearts. The Bright Morning Star. The One who lifts my head.
I didn’t dread reading the Bible before, but now I actually look forward to getting out of bed in the morning so I can go downstairs and see how many descriptors of God I can find in the sections for that day. I’ve found it makes me pay attention to what I’m reading more, because I don’t want to miss anything.
A righteous judge. Holy and true. The One whose eyes are like a fiery flame.
I’m doing this as I read through the Bible, but you don’t need to be involved in some kind of structured plan to try it out. Any time you read scripture, just be on the lookout for the names of God and write them down.
The Lamb. The Word of God. The One enthroned in heaven.
This is just a simple study strategy, not another legalistic box to check or something to feel guilty about if you happen to stop doing it. But if you’re like me—the kind of person who likes to make lists, enjoys words and wants to learn more about who God is—it might be just the thing for you.
Note: All the names of God listed in this post are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.