I’ve spent years looking for the perfect Bible reading plan-
1) not too much reading per day, not too little
2) easy enough for a beginner, challenging enough for a seasoned saint
3) five days per week so you can catch up if you miss a day or two
The search did not bear fruit; it only delayed me reading the Bible at all. (Excellence is a virtue. Perfectionism is its evil, twisted shadow-side.) There is no perfect reading plan. The important thing is to just read, to connect with God through God’s Word on an intentional and regular basis. It’s the best way to learn what God’s voice sounds like and to hear God speak into your life.
So, let’s get reading. Here are three simple reading plans to get you started. Each will take you through the New Testament in one year:
1. New Testament Reading Plan- Bible order
This plan will take you through the New Testament in the order in which it is printed in the Bible. Easy. Just read straight through.
2. New Testament Reading Plan- event order
This plan will take you through the New Testament in the order in which the events most likely happened. You’ll jump from chapter to chapter in different books in this plan. Is it scholarly perfect, no, but it is helpful for those of us who want a chronological approach to Jesus’ life and the lives of the first believers. (We aren’t getting caught in the perfectionism trap again. If this sounds interesting, go for it.)
3. New Testament Reading Plan- mixed
This plan spreads the Gospel readings throughout the year with the other books mixed in between. Even though you skip around the New Testament in this plan, you will read a book at a time.
So now that you’re reading, how do you get the most out of it?
Here are two simple, effective methods:
1. Lectio Divina
as explained by Bishop Ken Carter, Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church
“My general practice is to read the chapter through once, then to read it a second time, underlining words or writing notes in the margins, and then to use a yellow highlighter to note the most significant phrase for me on this day. I try to carry this phrase through the day, and connect it with what is going on around me. This is a very simple form of lectio divina, an ancient practice of meditating on scripture.”
Hint- Since most Bibles have thin pages, consider using colored pencils for writing and highlighting so its less likely to bleed through.
Hint 2- Consider purchasing an inexpensive Bible to mark for the duration of your reading plan and a new one for the next reading plan. This helps you to approach God’s Word fresh each year.
We join with the saints of the ages in practicing lectio divina–a prayerful reading of the Bible in order to find and follow the will of God. This includes what we call “Bible study,” but that is not the goal in lectio; the goal is “Bible living.” – Steve Harper
The SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal is practiced by thousands of Christians. I first learned of it from Wayne Cordeiro, pastor New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, click here for the video on their website.
Here’s a brief summary of the process.
S = Scripture
Read the Bible passage for the day. Copy the verse which catches your attention word for word into your journal.
O = Observation
Write a brief description of what is going on in the passage you read.
A = Application
Write about how your life will be different today because of what you have read.
• Lessons to be learned
• Examples to be followed or avoided
• Promises to be claimed and enjoyed
• A character trait of God revealed
P = Prayer
Write out a prayer for yourself and others based on what you read today.
One last thought, check out Steve Harper’s post entitled A Transforming Use of Scripture for insights on our motivation in approaching the Scriptures and the process God uses through Scripture to make us new.
Well, there you have it. The best practices and plans I’ve found. I’d love to hear what works for you.- Lisa <><
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