(Last year I linked to several Bible reading plans. Since Bible reading plans never really go out of date, I thought it worth re-posting some of that blog post. If your New Year’s resolution included growing closer to Jesus by spending more time in His Word, I hope these will be helpful to you. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for additional articles about the New Year and resolutions.)
Setting goals to read through the Bible in a year is a great goal; it allows you to see the “big picture” of God’s message to mankind. Through it you can see the unfolding drama of redemption–God’s plan to save fallen sinners from certain wrath through the most mind-blowing and costly means possible: by sending his own Son to take our punishment. A Bible reading plan allows you to see the “jigsaw puzzle box cover” which shows us how all the individual puzzle pieces of Scripture fit into the larger message.
A few years ago I wrote a post on Crew’s blog, linking to a Bible reading plan I developed to read through the Bible in two years rather than one. In that post, I described two reasons I developed this plan:
First, I always seemed to drop the ball on the one year plans, usually around Deuteronomy. A two-year plan is more manageable for me in my busyness, because I have smaller daily readings. Second, a two-year allows me to read through the Bible a little more slowly, allowing me more time to meditate and reflect on what I’m reading rather than rushing to get my chapters done.
The plan basically, with a few exceptions, has you read two Old Testament chapters a day for the first year and about three months; the final 9 months or so have you read one New Testament chapter a day. There are also some make-up days built into the last part of December.
(Note: I’m not sure whether it’s self-serving to quote myself, or just laziness. Either way… sorry.)
Go here to download the whole 2-Year Bible Reading Plan. Print it off and keep it with you in your Bible.
Besides this plan, Justin Taylor has linked to some really good ones:
First off, if you’re not persuaded that having a plan is necessary and biblical in some sense, then here’s a helpful piece from John Piper, written in 1984.
The Gospel Coalition’s For the Love of God Blog takes you through the M’Cheyne reading plan, with a meditation each day by D. A. Carson related to one of the readings.
George Guthrie has a very helpful Read the Bible for Life Chronological Bible Reading Plan. Guthrie has also made a a booklet version of the Read the Bible for Life 4+1 Reading Plan. The plan is similar to the Discipleship Journal plan, but in addition to reading in four different places in the Scriptures, you also read a psalm a day, cycling through the psalms twice in the year. This plan is semi-chronological, placing the prophets and the NT letters in rough chronological order.
Before I mention some of the ESV plans, here are a few other options that aren’t one-year-plans per se:
Don Whitney has a simple but surprisingly effective tool: A Bible Reading Record. It’s a list of every chapter in the Bible, and you can check them off as you read them at whatever pace you want.
For the highly motivated and disciplined, Grant Horner’s plan has you reading each day a chapter from ten different places in the Bible. (Bob Kauflin read the whole Bible this way in five and a half months and explains why he likes this system a lot.)
Joe Carter and Fred Sanders explain James Gray’s method of “How to Master the English Bible.” My pastor, David Sunday, told me that “the plan they recommend is, from my vantage point, the most productive way to read and to master the Bible’s contents (or more importantly, to let the Bible master you!).”
There are 10 Reading Plans for ESV Editions, and the nice things is the way in which Crossway has made them accessible in multiple formats:
- web (a new reading each day appears online at the same link)
- RSS (subscribe to receive by RSS)
- podcast (subscribe to get your daily reading in audio)
- iCal (download an iCalendar file)
- mobile (view a new reading each day on your mobile device)
- print (download a PDF of the whole plan)
Read the Justin Taylor’s full post here for further details on many of these plans.
(Update: To read Justin Taylor’s post for 2013 reading plans, click here. Also, if you struggle with whether the whole notion of resolutions is even Biblical, you may find this article helpful. Finally, many people, like me, have found New Year’s a great time to read and ponder Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions, made throughout his life. For an introduction to these resolutions click here. And happy New Year!)