Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Next year's Bible reading plan

I've done many different Bible Reading plans over the years. The worst and least successful were the no-plan plans.

Last year, for instance, I wanted to allow more time actually to study. So I purposed just to read, thoughtfully— no particular pace or plan. It was a miserable failure. Without a plan, I wandered and meandered and didn't really get anything done.

Now, I've done the M'Cheyne plan many times, and it certainly does march one right through the Bible. I did it this year, using Carson's For the Love of God as guide. Didn't love it, frankly, much as I love Carson. But he's no Spurgeon! (That's actually both a criticism and a compliment.)

However, much of a blessing as Spurgeon is, it's no reading plan at all.

What to do in 2009, if the Lord spares me?

So look: the Bible has 1,189 chapters. In a 365-day year, that's... mm, let's see... carry the 5... 3.2575342465753424657534246575342 chapters a day. I'm thinking of just reading it through, maybe concentrating on a topic such as Kingdom, or things relating to the CT/dispensationalism issue.

What have you done, hated, loved, rejected, adopted? Why?

What's your plan for 2009, should you live to see it?


Anonymous said...

I don't try to get through the Bible in a year, or any other abritary time. I pick a book and study a chapter a week with the help of my favorite commentary.

Now, by way of total honesty. I teach on the current chapter each Sunday night to a discipleship class.

Lesson: become a teacher.

Anonymous said...

I went through a One Year Bible this year. It's worked out very well for me. I need things to be made as simple as possible and this Bible does it. The Bible is broken up into 365 daily readings, all of which include Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms (twice through) and Proverbs. All I have to do is open up the Bible to the correct date and all the reading for the day is right there in one place. Now that's easy!

The one thing I didn't like was the text fell way into the gutter so reading the text at the center of the page was not that easy. There was also a lot of bleed through of the type from one page to the next (actually it bled through several pages. I ended up using the Bible as a reference for what passages to read and then read them from another Bible.

Next year, should I live to see it, I'm planning on using a One Year Chronological Bible. I will be sure to get one in a format I like so I can use only one Bible for my daily reading..

JackW said...

I've been using the MacArthur Daily Study Bible for a number of years now. In fact the original is held together by duct tape and I've been wishing that they would come out with a more sturdy version.

They did! Just got the imitation leather copy and love it.

JackW said...

BTW, I tried the "build your own" Bible reading plan in Logos ... now there's an area of Logos that could use some fresh thinking.

CR said...

I will second JackW.

JackW, you're a better man than me. What I did in the past was just purchase a new one. I have used the MacArthur Daily Study Bible plan for a few years. But I do something a little differently. Obviously the first year, I used the actually Daily Study Bible. The second year I used the Mac plan but read it with my Reformation study Bible and then this year I tried using the MacArthur Study Bible but then I got my new ESVSB and I'm finishing the year with Mac's plan but reading it through with my new ESVSB.

What I like about Mac's plan is that in reading through the Bible in one year it includes a portion of Psalms and Proverbs every day. It's not as intense as Stan's plan because his apparently goes through Psalms twice.

But Mac's plan is very manageable. I look forward in going through it again with my new ESVSB for the whole year. I just wish Mac had a bookmark or something of his Daily Reading plan rather than me just lugging around an extra paperback to know what I should read for the day.

Hmmm...I'm wondering if Fred Butler is going to read this. Does GTY have anything like this, Fred?

rebecca said...

I did the chronological reading plan this year and that was interesting to do at least once.

I'm not sure what I'm doing this year, but probably not reading through the whole Bible. I find reading through things that fast a little frustrating.

Tim said...

How about the whole Bible in 90 days?

I'm trying to imagine absorbing anything at that pace.

Tim said...

Here's a two-year plan that isn't so rushed. NT and Psalms twice, OT once.

RT said...

I just read straight through, at no particular pace. When I finish Revelation I start over with Genesis. I am on my fourth trip through and it seems to take me about 18 months. This last time I wrote the completion date on the final page of Revelation so that I would be able to actually determine my pace. Of course I include the Apocrypha, so any imputations of sluggishness can be kept to oneself, thank you very much.

Julie said...

LOVE love love the chronological Bible :0) I need the discipline, at this point of my life, of structured reading.

This year (2009) going to try the "One Year Bible" with my kids... OT after b'fast, NT after lunch, Psalm and Proverb after dinner. 5 - 10 minutes each, I think. Food for the body and food for the soul :0)

Yes, I am fully aware that my boys (12, 10, and 7), not to mention myself, cannot possibly "absorb" it all. Still, I would like them (and myself) to be drenched in God's Word.

Our devotion/teaching real study-the-Bible time is separate from this.

Inspired, but somewhat overwhelmed, by "10 Peas in a Pod"...


Patrick said...


I'm on a 2-year reading plan and I'm into my 2nd year of reading. It's a good pace and affords me time to read my Bible along with other books.

It boils down to about 3 chapters a day. The books I read are not necessarily in chronological order.

~Mark said...

I actually started my new plan a few montsh ago and will stick with that until I'm done.

I have WordSearch Bible software on my laptop (Bible Explorer 4), and what I do is pray that God will give me understanding of what He's had written and will help me discern His Truth from men's opinions, go through a chapter of Scripture (sometimes half a chapter) and than read the commentaries in the software (Adam Clarke's, J Vernon McGee's, and Matthew Henry) on it side by side, then read it again.

Then I pray again! This has been amazingly productive devotional time.

Now if only they'd add John MacArthur's commentaries...

Anonymous said...

I think you mean...
3.2575342465753424657534246575342 Chapters a day?
The ESV website has a few reading plans that you can podcast or RSS.
They have a few that go through the bible in a year, plus a few variations, e.g. some go through the NT twice etc.
I use "Every Day in the Word" - via Google Reader. That way I can read it whenever or listen to it as well. That way I "give attention to reading" and enjoy "faith coming by hearing" :)

DJP said...

Oh, goodness, you're absolutely right! Thanks. Fixed.

Barbara said...

I need one, myself. I get a topic in my head, or I (LOVE the Psalms) will get into the background behind a Psalm and then I have to read the background behind the background and swallow THAT and then go back to the Psalm and read it again, or Paul's letters will sit with me for awhile, or I just go more topical, I guess, than straight through it. I should go straight through it, but when you're slightly ADD and a topic hits your heart every night and you wind up somewhere else in the Scripture and then you realize the lateness of the hour....discipline. Must pray for discipline. Aye, yes.

But still - the stuff that grabs the heart and won't let go, wouldn't that be something to really study too? Not sure how to get a formal reading plan that goes along with the way His Word speaks to the heart, I notice that Spurgeon's Morning/Evening will very often be used of God to answer a question or a prayer - particularly when I take the passage from the reading and go back and read the whole book containing it.

Staci at Writing and Living said...

I have really liked the reading plan in the back of my ESV Literary Study Bible (here's a link to the RSS feed. It goes through Psalms, Isaiah, Luke, and Romans twice.

In past years I've also enjoyed my chronological daily Bible.

Anonymous said...

I've been doing Mc'Cheyne's for years now and anytime I stray I don't find it to be as spiritually beneficial. I'll be sticking to Mc'Cheyne's once again this year. For me, if it's broke, I ain't gonna fix it. This time I'll be trying to do at least one chapter in the OT with Hebrew. That ought to be interesting.

Watch out trying to study the whole CT/Dispy thing, you just might see the light and convert, becoming a CTer yourself ;-) Then you'd have to do an Augustine and write a book of retractions aplogizing for past errors. Pity the thought. Lol.

VcdeChagn said...

I am trying (and failing miserably to get all I should out of it) MacArthur's NT in 3 years plan...about 7 chapters a each day.

I usually read the KJV (my primary translation of choice) for the first 10 days then start branching out plus commentaries for the last few days.

Also, I read daily with my children...we're going to finish Esther by the end of the year. We also do a Psalm sometimes at the end of the reading (depending on time..we just started our third year of reading and we're halfway through the Psalms for the third time).

My OT reading is very spotty, usually at night.

Finally, I read my children a Proverb each night (date=Proverb number...with an occasional 31 replacing another Proverb so it doesn't get short shrift).

That about covers it. I am really enjoying MacArthur's plan and getting quite a bit out of the NT that way.

Rita Martinez said...

I began this year with the Bible Tu Andar Diario (Daily Walk, its a One year bible) which I had already done along with my church, but had to drop it after leviticus because the portions of text were too much and I would fall behind all the time. Then I tried doing the whole "no reading plan" for a while and that didn't work either.
Finally at the beginning of october, I picked up M'Cheyne's bible reading plan, which I've liked very much.
As for next for next year, I turned to the last pages of my ESV study bible and stumbled upon a bible reading plan which I decided will be my next reading plan.
So there, thats my plan. I will not only be reading the bible, I'll be studying it.

JTW said...

This is a great topic. I've been cogitating on this myself as the year draws to a close.

Two years ago I used a method that breaks the Bible into 7 sections(one section for each day of the week):
The Law

Each day you read from one of these sections and will read through the Bible in a year.

When I used this plan the first time, I would read the assigned section of scripture, then go over the same section with the MacArthur Study Bible. That was a very productive year for me.

This year I did the same plan but spent less time with the study Bible.

So this year I would like to change things up a bit but I'm not sure what I will do.

But like DJP, if I don't start the year with some kind of plan or structure, it probably won't go so well.

I'm thinking of using the same plan, but then on top of that choosing a particular book from the Bible to really dig into.

Jason said...

I'm something of a reading plan junkie. I've done the one that JTW just described and enjoyed that. I've done the straight through method (don't recommend it). I've used the Discipleship Journal plan from the Navigators. I've done a chronological plan (didn't like it as well). And I'm finishing up the ESV plan this year.

I like the ESV one for going through once a year (I believe it's a variation on M'Cheyne). My plan next year is to find out what is in a couple of paraphrases. I plan to read through the NLT and The Message using the Navigators plan. Doing two-a-day shouldn't be too hard with a paraphrase.

I would consider this inadequate spiritual food, but I do supplement with daily readings in Greek and I look forward to doing the same in Hebrew once I finish this next semester, Lord willing.

ThirstyDavid said...

I've never found a plan that I liked, so I made my own. I don't like reading some here and some there, as it breaks up context and themes and isn't as conducive to actually learning.

A few years ago I decided to read straight through from Genesis to Revelation. Rather than count chapters (since chapter length varies considerably), I took my favorite Bible, noted the number of pages beginning at Genesis 1 and ending at Revelation 22, and divide it by 365, and rounded up to a whole digit. That got me finished sometime in late Nevember - early December, so I had time to finish the year in the Gospels.

I did make a couple of logical adjustments. I didn't stop at the end of a page, but rather continued reading to the end of the chapter on the next page. Also, if a day's reading spanned two books, I just stopped at the end of the first.

That has worked well for me.

This year I took a different route. I listened to the Bible on mp3. I got through it four times in four translations. That was good in a way, but it's no substitute for actually reading.

Scott Shaffer said...

I've tried several and my experience is similar to others: No plan equals no success. I like McCheyne's for its simplicity, but I have to say I like ThirstyDavid's idea of taking your favorite bible and dividing the number of pages by 365, etc. David, were you using a study bible, and if so, did you read all the footnotes, articles, etc.?

Scott Shaffer said...

One other comment: My wife bought one of those through the year chronological bibles and really enjoyed that plan. I don't think she'll follow it again, but it was a good exercise in getting a more historical view of scripture.

ThirstyDavid said...


It was not a study Bible, just a plain KJV (still my favorite reading Bible, even though I've become quite attached to the Geneva and must use the NASB for study).

That's a good idea, though. Maybe I'll try it with a study Bible some time. I really just wanted to get through the Bible itself. I had really had trouble sticking with any other plan because everything had been broken up so badly.

Scott Shaffer said...


I just did the arithmetic on my Reformation Study Bible, 6 pages per day should have me done by the second week in November. I think I'll give it a try.

GrammaMack said...

I've used different plans in the past, including chronological, but for the past few years I've done as RT does: "I just read straight through, at no particular pace. When I finish Revelation I start over with Genesis." No Apocrypha, though.

rose mawhorter said...

I try to stick to bible reading plans, get about a month in a dies a painful death. I find it much easier to pick a book, read 1-3ish chapters a day until it's done and then pick another book.

That said, I'm drawn to following this reading plan this year. It's very different and appeals to my desire to really know scripture well. Basically you pick one book read it in it's entirety in one sitting for five days in a row and then you meditate over it for awhile (not in the creepy new-age way, there's just no other word). I think that it might work really well for me.

Highland Host said...

I read through the Bible every year following a historical plan, that is, I start in Genesis and read through to Revelation, following the unfolding of God's plan. I start at the beginning and read through to the end.

lee n. field said...

"What's your plan for 2009, should you live to see it?

Same as the plan for the last 10 years or so. OT, NT and psalms, in parallel, start at the beginning, read to the end.

Don't skip anything -- geneologies, king lists, apocalyptic you can't make sense of, etc. Read it all. However long it ends up taking.

Chad said...

In 2007, my pastor encouraged the church to read through the Mc'Cheyne plan. He encouraged those that aren't use to reading 4 ch a day to focus on the first two columns and divide between 2 years. He also very adamant that if you miss your reading for any period of time to not try to catch up. Pick up on that day's assigned reading. He said if you get some free time like Sunday afternoon, you may choose to catch up then.
It was very encouraging to know that others in the church were reading the same things. Pastor would regularly encourage people to stick with it and not get discouraged if we were falling behind. He would ask testimonies from time to time on Wed of what we got out of that days readings. He would sometimes preach on Wed based on a recent day's passage.
I go back to 2007 because I was as usual over zealous and tried to keep up with 4 ch a day. There were a lot of holes by the end of the year. I used this year to fill in the gaps. I am excited to say that in a few days I will have read the bible through for the first time. Has been enjoyable to read passages that I have never read before.

trogdor said...

I didn't really like any of the reading plans I've seen, so I made up my own. Basically I chose books to read each month, no set amount per day (my work schedule is so highly variable, some days it would be a major chore to get even three chapters in, others I can read dozens). As long as I get at least those books by that month, I'll get through the entire Bible in a year.

Oh, and I'm focusing heavily on Romans this year. The goal from here out is to pick a book or two, and really hammer them for a solid year. If I do that every year from here out, I could be expert-ish on most of the NT (for example) by the time I'm 50. Not a bad thing to invest in, I'd say.

Anonymous said...

I'm now doing the Horner Bible Reading Plan, from Prof. Grant Horner at Master's College. This is not a calendar-year based plan, and has you reading 10 chapters a day so that you actually read through the Bible far more than once a year, and so far this plan is great. It's a genre-based plan, where you are always reading one chapter every day from the following lists:

Gospels -- 89 days
Genesis through Deuteronomy -- 187 days
1st list of epistles (Romans through Colossians, and Hebrews) -- 78 days
2nd list of epistles (1 Thess. through Philemon, and James through Revelation) -- 65 days
Literature (Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) -- 62 days
Psalms -- 150 days
Proverbs -- 31 days
History (Joshua through Esther) -- 249 days
Prophets (Isaiah through Malachi) -- 250 days
Acts -- 28 days

You start with the first chapter in each list for the first day. When you reach the end of each list, you start over at the beginning of that same list. The plan is flexible and can be modified easily. I split the history and prophets into two shorter lists, so I'm actually reading 12 chapters a day, and later made other changes in the groupings. This plan can be started at any time, not based on a calendar year, and gives you a good overview of the Bible and all the many "connections" of how something in one part of the Bible relates to something else in another section.

The Slott Family Blog said...

I know this post was a couple of years ago, but I'm hoping someone may still see this and be able to help.

I've done the One Year Bible several years and this year I decided to try the Chronological version, but I peeked ahead and I think I see myself getting confused in the new testament.

I think what I was really wanting was a "one-year Bible" with the readings separated by day, but that just reads straight through the Bible. Is there something like that? What should I be looking for?

Rita Martinez said...

yes there is such a Bible its called The Daily walk Bible, except it only comes in the NIV, NLT and KJV.