With every new year comes new resolutions, new goals, and a fresh start for many things in life. One of the most important personal choices I’ve made for the past several years now is to read the Bible from cover to cover each year.
The Psalmist says “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). As we sojourn as pilgrims in this evil age and patiently await the return of Jesus, the Scriptures are like a bright light on a dark night, guiding us and strengthening our faith, hope, and love until that Day. And not only does Bible reading remind us of God’s commands and give us Godly examples to follow, it shows us who Jesus really is. If we don’t know Him as He presents Himself in all of the Word, we will never be able to rightly magnify Him with our lives and we will never discover the true purpose for which He created us - to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle I had to overcome in my resolve to read the Bible once per year was the hurdle of a schedule. It seemed like an extremely daunting task just to read 1189 chapters and over 31,000 verses, let alone to figure out how to split up all of that material into 365 manageable pieces.
Bible reading plans can help you go about this in a methodical, focused, and organized way. In the same way we plan what to eat and when to eat our meals on any given day, it is wise to plan for what we will read and when we will read the Bible. There are so many different plans to choose from, which ironically can also be another barrier in actually reading the Bible in one year. The easiest way to jump that hurdle is just to pick one and go for it!
For the past few years I have used a chronological reading plan that uses research to take into account the order of the actual Biblical events. It has been a thrill for me to add historical context to my reading of the Bible. Before I used the chronological plan, I used a simple canonical plan - one that just goes straight through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
Some folks really enjoy the M’Cheyne plan. Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a 19th century Scottish minister who prepared a Bible reading plan to take readers through the New Testament and Psalms twice per year, and through the rest of the Bible once each year. Readers on this plan go through about four chapters per day, taken from various parts of the Bible.
D.A. Carson, a modern-day theologian and author, slightly modified M’Cheyne’s reading plan and published a devotional called For the Love of God, including his own meditations on the daily reading. His plan doubles the amount of time in M’Cheyne’s plan (New Testament and Psalms once per year and the Old Testament once every two years), thus shortening the daily chapter commitment to about two. The online version of his devotional that is available at the Gospel Coalition website maintains M’Cheyne’s original four chapter daily plan.
As you seek to grow in your maturity as a Christian, I would highly encourage you to pick up a reading plan this year. Don’t worry if you get behind. Your reading plan isn’t a school assignment that is due on December 31st, and it’s not a sin to miss days in your plan. The greatest temptation you will come against is a desire to give up because you get behind. If you do get behind, just pick right up and keep going. Remember, you’re doing this for yourself. You’re not running a sprint. Bible reading is like a marathon. Pace yourself and most importantly ask Jesus to open His word to you as you read each day.
Here are some links to help you find a plan. Each of these options are available electronically through an app for your smartphone or tablet as well: