by Rob Tims
Christians often use the start of a New Year as a means of evaluating and adjusting their Bible reading plans. Psalm 119:105 reads, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path,” and these paths are not mere amoral choices like what we do for a living or where to take a vacation. There are real moral and ethical choices in view (this is especially clear when you read Psalm 119:104-106). So, intentional Bible reading is important. It’s like leaving a light on all through the night or taking an antibiotic all the way through its prescribed course. Without the word to light our feet and guide our path, we’re vulnerable.
The options for this exercise are legion, each with their own benefits and purposes. Here are a few listed in order of intensity (from least to greatest) to help guide you in your Bible reading this year.
- Least Intense: Every Word in the Bible. This plan takes you completely through the Bible, reading every word. Other Bible-reading plans allot only a year for this project, requiring that at least 3 chapters be read each day, but many readers find such a pace to be unrealistic and discouraging. To bring some grace to this pace, this plan assigns only one chapter a day. (Some short chapters have been combined, so occasionally you will read two brief chapters in a day.) In all, the reading plan works out evenly to three years. It also alternates between the Old Testament and New Testament. This mixing provides variety and reduces the fatigue that may set in from reading long sections of the Old Testament.
- Less Intense: F260 with Replicate Ministries. This plan is marketed for “busy believers.” There are accompanying resources available as well (like a Bible and a devotional). It features 10-12 chapters per week with only 5 reading days per week, and also suggests weekly memory verses.
- Moderately Intense: The Reformation Bible Reading Plan. As the folks at YouVersion point out, this plan accents The Word alone (Sola Scriptura) and a “gospel” order (the Bible organized according to which books most influenced the Reformers). Appropriately, there is some grace each week (the Reformers would have it no other way!).
- Rather Intense: Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System. Reading ten chapters a day, in the course of a year you’ll read the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters four to five times, the Old Testament wisdom literature six times, the Psalms at least twice, Proverbs and Acts a dozen times, and the OT History and Prophetic books about one and a half times.
- Most Intense: Read the Bible in 90 days. LifeWay Christian Resources has put together several great reading plan options, and while 90 days is certainly intense, it actually comes to about 30-40 minutes a day.
Personally, I’ve chose the Reformation reading plan for 2018, and I’m using the CSB, as I’ve come to highly value its readability and accuracy. Hopefully you will have already begun to engage with a plan for the path you are walking.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.