The original title for this post was, “Reading the Bible in 2071.” I mistyped the date. But then, that’s actually how we are so often tempted to approach Bible reading. It’s something we’ll get to later. That’s where habits come in. When we build out a regular pattern of doing just about anything, it becomes more natural, and dare I say, easy. When it comes to Bible reading, a reading plan can help.
Remember Jesus’ words, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). He was talking about himself! You don’t need to read the Bible in a year, but in 2021 you can certainly read the Bible regularly if you haven’t. The New Year is a great opportunity to decide how you’ll do that.
At the risk of overwhelming you with options, here is an overwhelming number options. At least you’ll know there’s no one-way to read the Bible every day. Browse around a bit and pick something that seems doable and encouraging:
- Chronological Reading Plan: Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible, by George Guthrie is a unique resource. This Bible is published with a one year daily reading plan in mind, ordering the Biblical material chronologically along the Bible’s own narrative framework. George Guthrie has also published a one year chronological Bible reading plan, Read the Bible for Life.
- The M’Cheyne Plan with Daily Devotional Commentary: For the Love of God is a two volume series of books written by D.A. Carson providing daily reading to supplement the M’Cheyne reading plan. This plan, named after its designer and Scottish minister in the 1800′s, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, takes you through the Old Testament once and the Psalms and New Testament twice in one year. Four readings are assigned to each day, but you can easily approach this with two readings a day and spread it across two years.
- Several Places A Day: Crossway’s Daily Bible Reading Plan is available as a PDF form to print out for a series of bookmarks. This plan gets you through the Bible in a year, reading from several different places in the Bible each day. Crossway has published 10 reading plans to supplement the ESV, including RSS, email, audio, and print versions daily. Also, the Discipleship Journal “Bible Reading Plan,” by NavPress, takes you through the entire Bible by reading from four different places each day.
- Just a List of Chapters: The Bible Reading Record, by Don Whitney, is a simple list of every chapter in the Bible. With this, you can read at whatever pace you like and keep track of what you’ve read until you’re through the Bible. This, of course, wouldn’t necessarily be a one year plan, but it could be. To get through the Bible’s 1089 chapters in a year, you need to read an average of 3.25 chapters a day, which comes out to about four chapters per day if you commit to reading five days each week.
- A Plan for Following God’s Redemption Plan: The Bible Eater is a simple one-page print out with a list of every chapter in the Bible and a reading pattern. Print it out and cross off chapters as you go. This plan highlights the Bible’s chapters that are especially significant for grasping the Bible’s storyline centered in Christ.
If you need some help reflecting on some of the spiritual dynamics involved in our struggle to read the Bible, check out Ryan Kelly’s article, “How’s Your Bible Reading Going?.” For some encouragement in the formation of some new habits like Bible reading, pick up a copy of David Mathis’, Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.