Bible Reading Plans

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With each new year come new resolutions.

While the end of the year is not the only time for introspection, it certainly affords a natural opportunity to examine ourselves and see how we are doing in our pursuit of Christ. Of the various resolutions we make, more prayer and Scripture reading probably tops the list for most Christians.

But did you know that most people could read the entire Bible annually by devoting less than 10 minutes a day? That means that simply by hitting the snooze button one less time, you could read the full counsel of God in one calendar year. Imagine what you could do if you didn’t hit snooze 4 times each morning!

Seriously? 10 minutes a day? Yes! There are about 775,000 words in most English translations. Divide by 365 days and you would need to read about 2,125 words a day. An average reader reads around 200-250 words per minute which means that you would need to read somewhere around 10 minutes a day to finish the entire Bible in a year.

That’s hardly overwhelming and maybe a bit convicting. While there are no explicit commands to read the whole Bible each year, there are certainly benefits to doing so and clear biblical encouragements to study, read, think and meditate deeply on the word of God.

So, what might we do to prepare ourselves for more frequent and purposeful reading?

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Come and check out the Theological Equipping Class at Parkway each Sunday from January 8 through June 25. We will meet from 9:00-10:15am and will be discussing the doctrine of Scripture and how to study it.
  2. Bear in mind that here is no “right” reading plan. Some people like to read from different sections of the Bible each day (Old Testament narrative, Old Testament poetry, Prophets, Gospels, Epistles, etc.), others prefer to stay in one book. Everyone is different. That is why I want to reference multiple plans rather than simply recommending one particular plan. Check out the various options. Experiment until you find one (whether one listed below or not) that works for you.
  3. Read, study, memorize, and meditate. Not one or the other, but all of the above.
  4. Reading is not the goal; beware of the tendency to make reading the end as if you have done your daily duty when you rise from your chair. Seeing, knowing, loving, and obeying Christ is the goal of all study.
  5. If you fall behind, just keep going. Don’t give up or give in to condemnation and shame.
  6. It will take work and discipline. Think strategically. Be intentional. Saints with more kids, longer hours at more demanding jobs, more debilitating illnesses, less technological resources, greater financial, physical, and environmental hardships, less education, and more responsibilities have read the Bible. Consider the example of Hudson Taylor:

It was not easy for Mr. Taylor in his changeful life, to make time for prayer and Bible study, but he knew that it was vital. Well do the writers remember traveling with him month after month in northern China, by cart and wheelbarrow, with the poorest of inns at night. Often with only one large room for coolies and travelers alike, they would screen off a corner for their father and another for themselves, with curtains of some sort; and then after sleep at last had brought a measure of quiet they would hear a match struck and seek the flicker of candlelight which told that Mr. Taylor, however weary, was pouring over the little Bible in two volumes always at hand. From two to four a.m. was the time he usually gave to prayer; the time when he could be most sure of being undisturbed to wait upon God. That flicker of candlelight has meant more to them than all they have read or heard on secret prayer; it meant reality, not preaching but practice. (from Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret)

May we be a people who keep, store, declare, delight in, meditate on, remember, long for, set ourselves upon, cling to, observe, trust in, seek after, love, turn to, believe in, hope in, consider, rejoice in, incline to, and pant for the gift of God’s word to us in the Scriptures (Psalm 119).

But how shall we read if we don’t plan to read? Here are a few helpful plans to consider even as you bear in mind that these are just tools and not rules and that each person has different preferences and reading styles. Sift through the options and find something that is both comfortable and challenging for you.

Bible Reading Plans:
  1. Five Day Chronological Bible Reading Program
  2. Bible Reading Plan for Shirker and Slackers
  3. ESV Bible Reading Plans available from Crossway (To podcast a plan in order to listen on your commute: (1) Go to the link above. (2) Right-click (Ctrl-click on a Mac) the “RSS” link of the feed you want. (3) Choose “Copy Link Location” or “Copy Shortcut.” (4) Start iTunes. (5) Choose Advanced > Subscribe to Podcast. (6) Paste the URL from step three into the box. (7) Click OK.
  4. Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Bible Reading Calendar