It is that time of year when resolutions are made. And right along-side the goals of eating better and exercising is the plan to read through the Scriptures.
The most typical approach is to try and read the entire Bible in a single year. One of the most popular formats for getting this accomplished is the M’Cheyne One-Year Reading Plan or something very similar (ESV Study Bible Reading Plan or Daily Reading Plan). These plans provide a daily reading schedule that includes selections from the Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms/Proverbs.
That means that as a reader we are reading from 3 different books on a single day (and possibly a single sitting). I find that I am are less likely to be able to focus on what I am reading when I am bouncing between this many different books in a single day. And I am probably not the only one since there are plans that are put together so that the reader can focus on reading from one book at a time while still reading through the entire Bible in a year (Straight Through the Bible).
Most of these plans also schedule readings for every single day of the year. That means that when life happens and you miss a day or two you are behind schedule. Which means that readers often start speed reading and skimming in order to catch up, if they don’t lose heart and stop altogether.
Rather than trying to read the entire Bible in 1 year I am going to lay out a plan to read the entire NT in (just under) 2 years.
Because each book of the Bible was not written to be a set of proof texts or to be read piece-meal. The Bible is a collection of 66 books that were meant to be read and experienced as individual literary works.
In this Bible reading plan the goal is to read for depth. Focus on one book and soak it in. Grasp all of the themes and treat the work as the author intended. A single book with a beginning, an end, and a purpose.
Outline of the Plan
- focus on 1 NT book for the month
- maybe 2 for the shorter ones
- read the book at least 3-4x in the month
- most plans only have us read a book one time, however if you read the book multiple times you will absorb and remember more of it. That means you will get more out of it.
- read 2-5 chapters a day from that book
- preferably in one sitting
- rely more on the flow of the work rather than the chapters
- for longer books that means reading it 1x each week
- plan to read 5 days each week
- the plan has catch up days and days off built in from the start
|July||1 Thessalonians & 2 Thessalonians||8|
|December||Colossians & Philemon||5|
|February||Titus & 2 Timothy||7|
|May||1 Peter||5||Petrine Perspective|
|June||2 Peter & Jude||4|
|September||2 & 3 John||2|
- Read at the pace you would a good novel. Don’t skim but don’t read like you are studying either. And don’t stop to look things up that you don’t understand. Instead write down your questions for later study.
- Read with the goal to know God more and focus on something that you can apply from what you are reading.
In addition to reading the book quietly try reading it out loud too.
Read a different translation each time you are reading it.
Don’t be afraid to mark up the book as you read it capturing repeated words, themes, and ideas.
- Try to paraphrase major sections of the book after reading it.
Make sure you include time to think through the passage and enjoy what you are learning in your reading time.
- Keep a journal of your questions, paraphrases, and PRACTICE notes.
Putting what we read into PRACTICE
James 1:22 reminds us:
But don’t just [read] God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. (NLT)
To help us but what we read into PRACTICE, I encourage you to think through what you are reading using this acronym. This was developed by Bob Hartman an old pastor (old in that he was a pastor at a church I attended a long time ago, not that he was old) based on Rick Warren’s SPACE PETS. I loved it and have slightly modified it over the years.
P – a Promise to claim
R – a Relationship to build or break
A – an Attitude to adopt or correct
C – a Command to obey
T – a Trespass (sin) to confess and repent of
I – an Idol to smash
C – a Correction to make (in what we believe, in what we do, in what we think)
E – an Example to follow or avoid
After reading the end of the Gospel according to Matthew we might reflect on the Great Commission in 28:19-20.
Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (NET)
- Where ever I am and where ever I go, Jesus wants me to be making disciples.
- Jesus wants disciples who are taught all that He commanded so that they will be able to live it out. That means that the Gospel does not stop when someone places their faith in Christ, but is a process of helping people become mature disciples who are able to walk in a manner worthy of our Savior.