Bible reading plans

January 1, 2024

One of my most important habits as a Christian is spending time daily with my Father. A “quiet time” is a time to meet with God through reading His Word (the Bible) and spending time in prayer. I will also journal on some days and sing hymns or Christian worship songs.

I spend some extra time on Saturdays reflecting on the week and making a thanksgiving list that I pray over to thank God for how I have seen Him at work in my life. That has been an important discipline that has helped me to practice gratitude and to keep a right perspective in the middle of good, bad, or the times in between.

As a college student, I was challenged many times to consider reading through the entire Bible in a year to help me develop a greater familiarity with the entire book. How can I order my life according to God’s Word if I don’t know all of God’s Word?

I used The One Year Bible with the NASB translation as my first attempt to read through the Bible in the year. It includes 365 daily readings that go chronologically. Each day has a reading from the Old Testament, a reading from the New Testament, a reading through the Psalms (you read through the Psalms twice in a year), and a few verses from Proverbs. I would get a great start only to be bogged down in the Numbers or Leviticus. It was also difficult to catch up if you missed a day because the plan was for every day of the year.

I read through a significant part of the Bible in 2005 when I used a reading plan that was included in my New American Standard Bible that I was using at the time. It is called the World’s Bible Reading Plan. It had an interesting approach in that it had you read about 5 chapters from the Bible each day for the first two months. It scaled back to 4 chapters in March and April and 3 chapters in May and June. In the summer, you read 1 chapter from the Old Testament and one from the Psalms. And then it scaled back up as the year progressed.

The idea is that you start with greater ambition at the beginning that wanes and then the summer months are a bit lazier so it slows down. But like the previous plan, it was for every day of the day and I would soon fall behind and then give up.

My first success at reading through the entire Bible in a year came in 2018 when I used the Five Day Bible Reading Plan. It only had readings for five days of the week. That gave you more opportunity to catch up if you missed some days during the week. It also is set up pseudo-chronologically so that you would read different places in the Old Testament that occurred around the same time so you got the historical context. It also interspersed the gospels throughout the year.

I found that it gave a nice variety and helped me keep my interest in one place even if I got bogged down in another. I ended up using it again in 2019 and was able to read through the entire Bible for a second time.

The one downside of all these plans is that they are broad sweeps of the Bible. They do a great job of building familiarity as you read through the entire Bible. However, as I read through the Bible in 2019, I began to feel a need for a slower approach where I could think more deeply about what I read each day.

I decided in 2020 to read less each day and I chose to use the 5x5x5 New Testament Reading Plan from The Navigators. I would only read one chapter from a New Testament book each day. It was another 5-day plan so I could catch up on weekends if I missed reading during the week. At the end of the year, I didn’t necessarily feel like I had gone any deeper with that plan than when I read through the entire Bible in a year. I am glad that I tried it but was ready to get back to a plan where I read both the Old and New Testaments.

I had planned to go back to the Five Day Bible Reading Plan in 2021 but then decided to use a plan that my church was going through. We were not able to attend services in person because of COVID-19 but were watching the stream on Facebook. I was hoping that reading the same plan might help me connect with more people even at a distance as we were reading it together. The plan covered most of the Bible but not all of it.

In 2022, I did go back to the Five Day Bible Reading Plan and was able to complete the plan for the third time. As I was considering what to do in 2023, I decided to try a different plan. I wanted a bit more variety and I was becoming very familiar with the Five-Day Plan. I did some research and decided to try The Navigators Bible Reading Plan.

This plan had you reading in four different places each day so it gave a bit more variety than the Five Day Reading Plan. You would read 25 times during the month so there was a little bit of margin but not as much as the Five Day Plan. I was a little concerned that I might not be able to keep up. The Five Day Plan had served me well. But I decided to take a chance.

I grew to like the Navigators Bible Reading Plan. One thing I liked about it is that I would have something to read on Saturdays and then I would take Sundays off. I had gotten into enough of a rhythm with my quiet times that I was consistently having them on Saturdays so the extra reading was not providing the challenge that I was concerned about. I found that I was reading less each day in this plan as opposed to the Five Day Plan and because I was reading in four places instead of 2 or 3, it kept my interest level high throughout the year.

I also liked the way the Navigator’s plan was structured. I was always reading a passage from the gospels throughout the year. I spent 3 months in Matthew, 2 months in Mark, 4 months in Luke, and 3 months in John. I found a better balance between intimacy (by reading fewer verses in each book a day) and familiarity that was lacking in other plans. I have decided to use this plan again in 2024 as I attempt to read through the entire Bible for the fifth time.


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