There’s something exciting about reading the Bible in big gulps. I feel well-fed, like I’ve been at the richest of banquets all year long. I’ve discovered long-forgotten treasures, and I’ve seen familiar verses shine with unexpected colours in their setting. I’ve been reminded how, verse after verse, chapter after chapter, the Bible tells the same story. I can’t wait to turn the pages and watch the history of salvation unfold.
I know you may not be in a season of life where you can read or listen to the Bible in a year – or even two.1 If your circumstances make it difficult, but you’re still reading a small amount regularly, then I thank God! But perhaps you can manage more. With the new year approaching, you might like to consider using one of these plans:
Here are seven of the best, trialled by me or people I respect.2 (Whichever you choose, you’ll find it more meaningful if you read or listen to an introduction to each book as you come to it, especially with tricky books like the prophets.3)
- My friend Melanie likes the ESV Chronological Bible Reading Plan, where you read a few chapters in one place a day. The chronological order means you can see, for example, how the different psalms fit into Bible history. I’m looking forward to trying this one!
- Rachael appreciates the Thematic Bible Reading Plan. She says, “There are two or three readings a day. You read through each book from beginning to end. The books are placed together in such a way as to help you to make thematic connections between them.” This plan looks excellent – another one I’d like to try.
- Meredith enjoys the ESV Daily Reading Bible plan, where you read in three places a day – Old Testament, New Testament and a Psalm (she talks about her experience in my Bible reading plan, mid-year review and this interview-with-self).
- Justin Taylor recommends the ESV Study Bible Plan, where you read in four places a day: Psalms and Wisdom, Pentateuch and History, Chronicles and Prophets, Gospels and Epistles (you can even print out four snazzy little bookmarks to mark the places in your Bible!).
- John Stott faithfully used the M’Cheyne One Year Bible Reading Plan, where you also read in four places a day, chosen to give the big picture of salvation history. He said, “Nothing has helped me more to gain an overview of the Bible, and so of God’s redemptive plan”. Don Carson’s For the Love of God gives you daily readings to use with this plan.
- I’m using the NAV Book-at-a-Time Bible Reading Plan, with two readings a day: a short reading from the wisdom books or Isaiah, and a longer reading which swaps between testaments and spreads the gospels through the year. I like the variety and the focus on one book at a time, and it’s very forgiving, with twenty-five readings a month; similarly forgiving is the four-places-a-day NAV Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan.
- A great method to get young Christians started (it got me started) reading through the Bible is the three-year Bible reading plan from Tim LaHaye’s How to study the Bible for youself, which is designed to introduce newcomers to regular Bible reading (first year gospels and epistles, second year wisdom and epistles, third year the lot).
- When I had babies and toddlers, a shorter passage was all I could handle; I enjoyed using The Daily Reading Bible. ↩
- If you want to know more about the different plans available, I recommend Justin Taylor’s Bible reading plans. ↩
- Try Mark Dever’s book-at-a-time overview sermons, one for every book of the Bible: you can download the audio versions at Capitol Hill Baptist (search: the message) or read the print versions in The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made and The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept. Another option is to read the introductions to each book in a study Bible or William Dumbrell’s The Faith of Israel. Graeme Goldsworthy’s Trilogy and According to Plan will help you see how the different bits of the Bible hang together in Jesus. ↩