With its 66 books and 1189 chapters, the Bible can seem formidable in size. It is a library of books after all. You may have said to yourself that you would like to read it. But moving from talking to doing can be difficult. The end of the year can be a good time to think about projects that can be spread out over a calendar year. I use the end of the year to plan my next year’s Bible reading. Of course, one can begin at any time, but the beginning of a new year is an excellent time.
Goal. Most things do not get accomplished until we have set a goal for ourselves and made a commitment to that goal. The same is true for Bible reading. If you would like to be regular in your reading or read through the Bible in a year, the first step is to set that goal for yourself and make a commitment to that goal.
Plan. Secondly, we need a plan for reaching our goal. A system that proposes how we are going to achieve our goal and gives us a yardstick by which to measure our progress. You can have smaller plans like reading the gospels or reading the New Testament. Progress might simply be tracked with a book mark or a simple log of chapters read. In some Bible apps I’ve seen plans as short as five days on a particular topics. These shorter plans are to get someone started in reading. Doing several shorter plans in a row may build up someone’s confidence as a reader.
For reading through the entire Bible, there are many Bible reading guides available. We have paper ones in the foyer, but several Bible apps for phones and tablets have built in reading plans that can be used. I’ve been using electronic guides since switching to phone and tablet for my regular reading. Guides may take you through the Bible chronologically, through the Bible in canonical order, or they may give you readings in the Old and New Testaments each day. Some guides may give you two readings a day and others give you four different readings a day. I’ve particularly enjoyed M’Cheyne’s Bible reading guide and the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan. But these latter two take you through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice. M’Cheyne’s also takes you through the Psalms a second time, so you may want to check on the amount of reading a plan has. However, I’ve found variety in readings help keep me from getting bogged down.
Routine. Finally, it is helpful to set up a routine. Having a special time during the day when you do your reading will help you form “the Bible reading habit.” Use a translation which you feel comfortable with and which is easy for you to read. A pencil or pen can be helpful to mark verses that are especially meaningful to you or to write down questions on things you don’t yet understand (many apps also allow highlighting and note taking). I typically make a pot of coffee first thing in the morning and then do my Bible reading. Others may find time in a coffee break, meal time, or right before going to bed.
With the right goal, plan, and routine you can begin to explore the exciting treasures of the Bible.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.” (Psalms 119:105, ESV)