Editor's note: This article originally ran January 2014. All the reading plans mentioned are still available for January 2015.
The first time I attempted to read through the Bible may have been 2009. I met with success using the NIV One Year Chronological Bible. Portions were tedious, no doubt, and many times I played catchup, wondering if I would ever navigate my way through the wilderness of Old Testament genealogies. However, I persevered and because of that, encountered parts of the Bible I would have otherwise avoided or overlooked.
As 2013 dawned, I scrambled for resolutions and toyed with the idea of once again reading through the Bible in a year. I decided on a plan that started with the Old Testament and trudged forward. Admittedly, it wasn’t long before I was entirely bored with my reading plan. I rushed through it so I could check it off my list and move on to a text more interesting at the time.
Please understand, I love the Old Testament! I would caution that only reading in the New Testament promotes an incomplete picture of God, His Word, and His divine narrative. However, the plan I choose to follow in 2013 left me longing for the gospels. The problem was, I wouldn’t get to the New Testament until fall, that is, if I had made it that long… and I didn’t. Stopped at Ezekiel and decided to ditch my New Year’s resolution.
This brings me to birth of 2014, and to you. What are your plans for growing in Bible study and knowledge of the scriptures for 2014?
I hope that this list of reading plans offered by spiritual giants will inspire you to read your Bible with a fresh perspective.
1. Francis Schaeffer, a wonderful apologist of the 20th century, read three chapters of the Old Testament a day and one from the New Testament. He divided the Old Testament into three sections and read one chapter from each of these segments a day. In this manner, Schaeffer read through the Old Testament every nine or ten months and the New Testament every eight months. For example, Genesis 1; 2 Kings 1; Proverbs 1; and Matthew 1 would be the first day’s reading. You can learn more about Schaeffer and his reading plan here.
2. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a young Presbyterian minister to Scotland in the 1800’s, developed M’Cheyen’s One Year Bible Reading Plan in order for God’s people to grasp the overview of the Bible. His plan is available free online here, which also includes an overview of McChyene’s life written by D.A. Carson. You can also download a simple two-page layout of the year’s daily Bible plan here, or read online here for a plan with direct links to daily Scripture passages. If you are familiar with the YouVersion application, M’Cheyen’s plan is offered there as well.
3. John Piper, pastor, and founder of DesiringGod.com, supported the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan in 2009. This plan, found here, lists 25 days’ worth of reading each month, allowing you days to catch-up or further study specific passages that intrigued you. This plan can be started at any time during the year and takes you through portions of four separate books of the Bible each day so that you will read through the entire Bible in one year.
4. George Muller, founder of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, took care of over 10,000 orphans during the 1800’s based solely on unsolicited donations. A man of fervent prayer, at the end of his life he had removed all other books from his library and only read the Scriptures daily. He wrote of God’s word, “You say that the reading of this tract or that book often does you good. I do not question it at all. Nevertheless, the instrumentality which God has been pleased to appoint and use is that of the Word itself.”
George Muller advised reading through the scriptures beginning with the Old Testament. Read a chapter or two then mark where you left off. The next day read in the same manner in the New Testament. Reading alternately the Old and the New Testaments you will read through the whole Bible at your own pace.
If any or all of these methods do not appeal to you, don’t fret! The 21st century has brought an abundance of resources to our fingertips. There are hundreds of Bible reading plans accessed free via BibleStudyTools.com, YouVersion, and ESVBible.org/devotions, just to name a few. By utilizing these plans you can set small day or month reading goals, or choose another year long plan that takes you through a desired portion of scripture.
The ultimate aim is that we would become biblically literate Christians.
“Any number of people assumes that the Bible says that Eve ate an apple, or that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Yet the Bible never says a word about whales or apples. In the former case it refers to a fish, which might imply any sort of sea-monster; and in the second, to the essential experience of fruition, or tasting the fruit of the tree, which is obviously more general and even more mystical . . . The things that look silly now are the first rationalistic explanations rather than the first religious or primitive outlines. If those original images had been left in their own natural mystery of dark fruition or dim monsters of the deep, nobody would have quarreled with them half so much . . . But it is unfair to turn round and blame the Bible because of all these legends and jokes and journalistic allusions, which are read into the Bible by people who have not read the Bible.”--G. K. Chesterton
Brooke Cooney is a pastor's wife, mother of two, and foster-mom of one. To capture the eternal in the everyday, she blogs about family, faith, and lessons along the journey at ThisTemporaryHome.com.