I’ve seen several options present themselves. As usual, Justin Taylor’s is the most comprehensive and includes several different options. For an intriguing approach that utilizes listening and reading, see Joseph Torres’ proposal. Over at Grace For Sinners, Mathew Sims has a reading plan posted. Derek Griz at Hobo Theology has Route 66 plan. Denny Burk posted his plan for reading the Bible in 2013, as well as a plan for reading the Greek NT. And as you might expect, Logos has a plan that utilizes its Faithlife Study Bible.
Last December, I dabbled with the idea of doing the 3650 challenge. I liked the idea of reading so much Scripture, but as the plan stood, I thought it could use some adjustments. Having done that, the plan seemed to fit hand in hand with my commitment to grow in my knowledge of Scripture in 2012.
However, I didn’t stick with it at all. Part of that is my own lack of discipline, not in reading, but in reading according to a plan. The other part was that I found the daily volume was too much to read thoughtfully. I could definitely find the time to read the 10 chapters, but I eventually dropped the plan and here’s why.
I kept to my alternate plan somewhat. I read through the Psalms about 3-4 times reading 5 a day, and got through most of the Old Testament. I read through the epistles, some a couple of times. And I made it through Proverbs on a monthly cycle several times.
All in all, I did a good bit of Bible reading, but I was fairly inconsistent. Part of the downside of seminary is having to bring myself back to a devotional mindset when I read, rather than a “let’s finish this book ASAP” mindset (more on that in an upcoming post). Obviously reading Scripture with the latter is not the way to commune with God on a daily basis.
Keeping all this in mind, I’d like to propose my own reading plan for this coming year. Mostly this is for me and for public accountability, but also it’s with our community group in mind. I think it would be great if we could read Scripture together, but I also realize everyone has different amounts of time at their disposal to do the reading (and different degrees of interest in reading period).
So, I’d like to propose a plan that comes in three sizes: S, M, L.
On the small plan, which perhaps is the minimalist plan, you read just a few verses a day. I would even say this to make it super flexible: start in Romans and read 1 heading per day in your Bible. When you read, try to a) read slowly and then b) spend some time just meditating and thinking about the paragraph (or two) that you read. You’ll continue working through the Epistles until you finish Jude. Then go back to Romans and start over. There is no specific passage tied to a specific day so you can’t get behind. Just when you read, sit down and read a heading where you last left off and meditate on that passage.
Total reading per day: Less than one chapter
Truth be told, most people can probably swing the medium reading plan. It builds on the small by using it, and then adding a) 1 Proverb (or Psalm, you pick) and b) 2 chapters in the Gospels/Acts/Revelation. This means you’ll need two additional bookmarks. 3×5 index cards work just as well if you don’t have bookmarks lying around and don’t want to spend money. You’ll start by reading the passage in the small plan, then move to either the Proverb/Psalm or Gospels chapter. This gives you the flexibility of reading the medium size when time allows, or just sticking with the small plan. Since once again there is no specific chapters tied to specific days, there is no getting behind. There is only a cycle to work your way through. When you finish Matthew, you move to Mark, and then Luke/Acts, and then John and then Revelation. When you finish Revelation, back to Matthew you go. With the Psalms and Proverbs, you’re a little more free to manuever around as you wish.
Total reading per day: Just over 3 chapters
As you might guess, the large builds on the small/medium and just adds more chapters. The additions though are strategic. If you’re keeping score, the small plan covered the Epistles and the medium covered the Epistles + The Gospels + Wisdom books. That leaves two major genres unaccounted for: Old Testament historical books and the Prophets. So, on the large plan, you’re going to introduce two more bookmarks and add three chapters. One bookmark will cover a cycle that spans Genesis to 2 Kings, the other spans Isaiah to Malachi. In the spirit of flexibility that runs throughout this plan, you can decide how to divide the three chapters on a given day. You have 5 options: 1) all in the Prophets, 2) all in the historical books, 3) 2 prophets, 1 historical, 4) 1 prophet, 2 historicals or 5) nothing.
Total reading per day: Just over 6 chapters
Utilizing these various cycles as your plan, the only thing left to sort out is when you’ll do your reading. I could (and probably should) devote a whole post to strategies for getting the reading itself done. To be honest, that’s my biggest problem as well when it comes to reading. I have the time, I just use it to do other things. Hopefully, this cycle approach that allows for a few verses a day as an option will help us get into the Word everyday, even if just a slice. And when time permits, there is a strategy for wider reading. I’ll keep you posted as I use it, and let me know if you plan to adopt it yourself!