I was going to post on the reading the Bible in the New Year as often people set that as a goal at the beginning of the year. But as I looked at some previous posts on the topic, this one from January of this year said about everything I would want to say, so I’ll just repost it with a few additions. Let me just say, though, whatever “plan” you use, whether you read the Bible through (something I advocate, though as I’ve said often, I don’t do it within a year any more. I’m taking time now to read through one epistle several times over a week or two before going on to the next one) or not, at least read some portion of it every day. That is a goal anyone can master. Also, in a comment on the previous post, my son posted a link to Joe’s Goals, a free tracker for the goals you set for yourself.
Many people begin with new year with a goal to read the Bible through, or at least to read it more. And that is a worthy goal. There are many good reasons to read the Bible.
I’d like to suggest, though, that if you don’t have some kind of plan of action, this goal, like many others, will likely fizzle out and you’ll get discouraged: likely either making the time will fall to the wayside, or you’ll hit or miss in favorite passages and not venture out into others.
So I would like to suggest that you make some kind of plan. Let me say up front, though, that not every day will go according to plan, and that’s ok. Don’t let it discourage you that you can’t do the exact same thing every day, when someone is sick, when on vacation, when something unexpected comes up. On “those days” just do what you can and then get back into routine as soon as you are able.
That’s one reason I like the Daily Light devotional book. I like to use it to begin my devotions and get my mind in gear, but there are some days that that may be all I can do, and on those days I know I’ve had a good “bite” into God’s Word — kind of like those days that you don’t have time for a proper breakfast but you grab a multi-grain nutrition bar rather than a donut.
I’ll confess that on Sundays I only read Daily Light (and sometimes other devotional books I am going through). Our routine is different on Sunday and everyone is home, making it a little harder to find a quiet time to concentrate, plus we’re at church 3+ hours with Sunday School and the morning and evening services. I look at it like going to Grandma’s house for a big Sunday dinner rather than eating at home: I am going to church for the “family meal” my pastor and teachers have prepared that day.
There are a number of plans online for reading the Bible through. One here is based, I believe, on the One Year Bible plan. BibleGateway.com has a few different ones: a comprehensive one for reading the Bible through in a year, a 121-day biographical one covering some of the major people in the Bible, a 61-day survey schedule, and a 61-day chronological reading plan.
There is a plan developed by Robert Murray McCheyne (or M’cheyne) here that will take you though the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalm twice in a year’s time.
Susan at By Grace posted links to some other Bible reading plans that I’m going to “borrow” and share with you here. One she saw at Mountain Musings is here with five different plans for many different versions (even foreign language ones). Another one has you reading from different parts of the Bible (Epistles, Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy, Gospels) each day. Susan also shared a link to a free online version of Alexander Scourby’s audio reading of the KJV for those who learn better by listening than by reading (or who sometimes like to listen while reading).
There is a list of thirteen other Bible reading plans here.
Good News Tracts has a topical 31 day plan in tract form here, and two different tracts with a plan for reading the Bible through in a year here and here. Plus I have always liked Where to Look in the Bible, a tract of passages for different topics. You have to buy the tracts in increments of 25, but each packet is only about $2.50 plus shipping: maybe if your church or a group of friends would like to use them, too, that might be an option. The nice thing about the tract format is that it is easy to keep in your Bible (even to use as a bookmark), and some have little boxes to mark off your reading for the day.
The Bible Broadcasting Network has free Bible studies here. They used to have a Bible reading plan in pamphlet form, but I can’t find a link to order it. They do, however, have several useful Bible study tools and they have websites in several different languages, even Chinese and Russian.
Surely with all of those plans there is one to strike everyone’s fancy.
I’ve mentioned many times that I love reading the Bible through, and when I first started a plan kept me at it and on track. Over the past several years I have continued to read the Bible through, but not in a year. I usually read a couple of chapters a day, but in some of the narrative passages or some of the shorter epistles I’ll read more at a time. There are some places in the Bible that, if I try reading more, I am not comprehending it, and that’s the goal — understanding and meditating on what you read, not just getting through a list. Plus I want to be free to study out something that strikes me in my reading or look up cross references, etc., without feeling like I don’t have time to because I need to keep with the plan.
Sometimes I take a break in my regular reading to do a particular study or to go through a Christian book, like Changed Into His Image.
In closing, here are some quotes from other well-known voices of the past about reading the Word of God:
“Above all theologies, and creeds, and catechisms, and books, and hymns, must the Word be meditated on, that we may grow in the knowledge of all its parts and in assimilation to its models. Our souls must be steeped in it; not in certain favorite parts of it, but the whole. We must know it, not from the report of others but from our own experience and vision,…Another cannot breathe the air for us, nor eat for us, nor drink for us.”
–Horatius Bonar from They Walked With God
“It will greatly help you to understand scripture if you note – not only what is spoken and written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goes before and what follows. “
“Some people like to read so many [Bible] chapters every day. I would not dissuade them from the practice, but I would rather lay my soul asoak in half a dozen verses all day than rinse my hand in several chapters. Oh, to be bathed in a text of Scripture, and to let it be sucked up in your very soul, till it saturates your heart! “
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.” –AW. Tozer
“When you are reading a book in a dark room, and come to a difficult part, you take it to a window to get more light. So take your Bibles to Christ.” –Robert Murray M’Cheyne
“If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.” — Daniel Webster
Other posts on this topic:
Having devotions when you’re not feeling very devoted
When there is no hunger for God’s Word
What do you say about this book?
Praying When You Don’t Feel Like It.
God’s Unchanging Word, a poem by Martin Luther.
Encouragement for mothers of young children about trying to have devotions with little ones afoot.