Why is it important for us to read the Bible regularly? First, it is our spiritual food. Jesus said that it is what sustains us (Matthew 4:4). Secondly, reading the Word helps us to fight sin (Psalm 119:11). Third, the Bible is the primary way we hear from God and how God speaks to our hearts.
One of the ways we can set ourselves up to read Scripture regularly in 2019 is by being intentional. I’d encourage you, over the next week or so, to think through how you are going to approach the Scriptures this year. To help you, I’ve included a few ideas and links to some plans that can help you. There are hundreds of ways to read the Bible and you need to pray and think through which one is best for you. Make sure you stay and read until the end for some helpful tips on daily Bible reading:
Okay, here are some plans:
Reading the Bible in a Year:
There are a variety of great ways to read through the Bible in a year. Two really great tools for doing this are either the ESV Bible app or the Youversion Bible app. Both have several different plans in there. I’d like to highlight a few:
- The classic read-through-the-Bible in a year plan. This is the standard one that moves through the Bible books in order.
- The chronological Bible reading plan. This allows you to read the Bible in the order in which events happen historically.
- The ESV Bible reading plan: daily readings taken from four lists: Psalms and Wisdom Literature, Pentateuch and History of Israel, Chronicles and Prophets, and Gospels and Epistles.
- There is the Robert Murray M’Cheyenne plan that has you read the NT and Psalms twice and the OT once
- The F260 Reading Plan: this one has you read through key passages of Scripture in a year, reading five days a week.
Reading the Bible in multiple years
Another way you can do your Bible reading is to read through the entire Scripture in two years or even three years instead of one. Some people recommend this plan as a way to slow down and meditate on the Scripture over a longer period of time.
- Stephen Wittmer suggests why a two year plan is a good way to go.
- Joe Carter makes the case that this habit is a good way to let the Bible change your mind
If you’d like to choose between the one-year plans or multi-year plans, here are some links with those plans:
- Ligonier has a nice list with almost every plan.
- Crossway also has a good list and some links to the ESV Bible plans
- If you own an ESV Study Bible or a CSB Study Bible, those also have Bible reading plans in them
- I prefer reading my Bible on paper, but if you prefer using an app, I highly recommend either the ESV Bible app or the YouVersion Bible App. Both have multiple Bible reading plans and the ability to get reminders every day.
Reading Through Single Books:
As I mentioned above, sometimes it’s great to slow down your Bible reading and go through a single book in a year. I’ve done this the least few years. There are a few ways you can do this.
- You can simply take a book of the Bible and go through it slowly. You might read a chapter a day and then just start over several times. The benefit of doing it this way is that you really become familiar with a book over time.
- Another way you can do this is by using devotional books. Here are some that I’ve found helpful:
o The ESV Devotional Psalter – I used this this year and loved it. It’s a bound Bible with only the Psalms in it and some commentary each day. I ended up going through the whole thing twice this year.
o Tim Keller’s Psalms and Proverbs. Tim Keller has both a yearly Psalms devotional and yearly Proverbs devotional. I plan on doing the Proverbs one this year.
- Lastly, some suggest reading a book of the Bible with the use of a commentary. My recommendation is to go slow and use at least two commentaries to get a diversity of views. Here is a really helpful article on the best way to do that.
- If you do decide to read a book slowly over a year, one tool that might be useful is a Scripture journal.
Some Tips for Daily Bible Reading:
A few tips that have helped me:
· Don’t approach every day in the Word as if that day has to be some big “light bulb” moment. Some days you will find some mind-blowing spiritual insight that will change your life. But most of the time, your Bible reading won’t be like that. There will be no halo over your head and you won’t feel a surge of warmth in your bones. But this is okay. Because part of what you are doing when you are reading Scripture is just listening and hearing God speak and becoming familiar with the Scriptures. This repetition and rhythm of reading, over and over again, will shape and form your heart.
· You will miss days. So if you are doing a reading plan and you get behind, don’t let that keep you from jumping in and just continuing on. Jesus still loves you if you miss a day of your Bible reading plan. Jump back in, keep going and if you finish your thru-the-Bible plan on January 6th next year, you are still a child of God!
· Some years you want to read through the entire Bible. I highly recommend you do this several times in your life as a discipline. But there may be some years where you simply want to slow down and take one book and read it over and over again for a year. I did this the last two years: I read Isaiah in 2017 and Psalms in 2018. In 2019, I’m going to go through Proverbs.
· Sometimes I like to supplement my Bible reading with reading a chapter or two from a good Christian book. This is a good way to be edified and to get in some reading time. A few suggestions for Bible reading:
o Knowing God by JI Packer
o The Reason for God by Tim Keller
o The Imperfect Disciple by Jared C. Wilson
We don’t always hear from God in just one moment, but in many moments over time God shapes our hearts and directs our steps. So start where you are. Let Him speak. Learn to walk in step with the Holy Spirit by listening and obeying Him. And then both sooner and later He will produce fruit in your life that will last well beyond 2019.