The new year will be here soon! It’s not too late to start thinking about whether or not you would like to start a Bible reading plan in 2015. I enjoy plans. They help me to be more regular with my reading.
Not all reading plans are the same. Though many are geared towards reading through the whole Bible in a year, there are more options available. There are some that will extend the reading out for two or three years or shorten it considerably. I once went through the Bible in six months. To be honest, it wasn’t planned. I was pregnant and suffering with “morning” sickness so badly that all I could do was read!
Some plans focus on just parts of the Bible like the gospels, the Old or New Testament, or bring you through the same books more than once. Plans can also go through the books in the order they appear in the Bible or go through the Bible in the order that things took place chronologically in history. I prefer the latter. I get a lot more out of my reading that way. For example, I understand the books of the prophets better when I temporarily leave the history books like Kings or Chronicles and read the prophet that was prophesying at the time of the events I’m reading about. When I’ve done it the other way, too much time had passed; and I didn’t feel the impact of their message as much. By then, some of the contextual details had faded from my memory.
Find A Plan
If you do decide to follow a plan, now is a good time to start looking into options. With today’s technology, it is easier than ever to find one. A quick search on the internet will yield good results. Here are two links that provide a number of different plans to choose from.
Software, Bible apps, and stand-alone Bible reading plan apps can be very convenient. Some let you customize the plan to your specifications. I have used the plans inside of e-Sword PC software and the Reformation Study Bible app.
Once you have chosen, you may want to get a jump on the year and start right away. If you give yourself a little cushion, it will help when those inevitable days come along when reading doesn’t happen. It can help knowing you have that leeway. When I have done this, it was instrumental in keeping me from falling behind. If you’re like me, falling behind doesn’t feel good and can be derailing. My “by the book” mentality has insisted on compliance! Thankfully, over the years I’ve learned to let go of the notion that if I fall behind I have to stop. I’ve learned to set the imaginary rule book aside, ignore the calendar date, and keep reading. It’s ok to read January 23’s chapters on March 2! :) In more recent years, I have even started plans on some random day in the year! Real progress!
Here are a few things that I’ve learned over the years about doing reading plans.
♦ Chose a good Bible translation for your reading plan and for all of your reading and studying. To see how various Bibles compare to each other, please visit: Bible translations: Comparison charts
♦ Pray when you read. Prefacing your reading time with prayer can help focus your heart and mind, but it doesn’t have to always or only be before you read. I find that praying after reading the Bible often comes more naturally. Sometime I’m moved to stop my reading entirely and spend the rest of the time in prayer.
♦ It’s ok to start any time of year and to start again even if you have fallen way behind. Really! :)
♦ Always reading at the same time of day helps build a routine. For me, it is first thing in the morning; but it could be anytime.
♦ It can also be helpful to read in the same place every day.
♦ Try to avoid reading just to check off the next selection. I have been guilty of that. I got caught up in the structure and goals and lost site of the purpose. The purpose is to enjoy and learn and grow, not to just get it done. It’s better to slow down and lose a day, than to read too fast or absentmindedly and lose the meaning.
♦ If the schedule you picked is too fast or too slow, make adjustments. It’s your plan and what works for YOU works!
♦ Hang in there when you get to certain parts! Parts of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy come to mind. There are what I call nuggets of gold in there that make it personal. Look for these applicable verses and keep going! Every single word we get to read in the Bible is a blessing.
♦ Refresh your heart in the New Testament if need be. While I love the Old Testament and there is an abundance of grace in it, I have found that when I spend a long span of time in the Old Testament, I miss the special grace of the New. The New Testament touches my heart in a different way. If you chose a plan that goes through the Old Testament before getting to the New, you might find it refreshing to take breaks from the Old every book or two and read even just a small book from the New.
Currently I am going through the Bible with our son. It is a graduation requirement of my homeschool that our children get through the whole Bible at least once. For us, an audio Bible is working well. We listen together and pause whenever we want to discuss something. This is the first time I have done this, and I am really enjoying it. I know it is blessing for both of us. In my personal reading time, I recently finished a plan; and now I am trying something different. I have chosen the book of Romans, and I am reading it slowly and repeatedly. Sometimes I spend the morning on just one part of a chapter. This approach does not really lend itself to a scheduled plan. Depending on how this goes, I might go back to one or try to customize one that will provide me with the structure that I have grown to appreciate.
Whether we choose to do a plan or not, the important thing is that we spend time in God’s word. His word is truth (John 17:17) and is a light for our path. (Psalm 119:105) Its importance in our lives cannot be overstated. The word of Christ is imperative to faith (Romans 10:17), and through the word of God we were born again. (1 Peter 1:23) It is our true sustenance. (Matthew 4:4) Through the scriptures we also learn how to live lives that are pleasing to God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The cutting they are capable of is surely needed. (Hebrews 4:12) In all this, it is most important that we not only read but also live what we read. (James 1:22-25)
I’d love to hear from you. Do you find Bible reading plans helpful? Will you be doing one in 2015? Is there a time of day that works best for you? If you have any suggestions for a successful experience with reading plans, please share in the comments below.
In this coming year, I pray that our lives are deeply affected by the precious gift of the scriptures. Through them, may we learn more about God and grow in our love for him and for others.
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. “ (Colossians 3:16)