As I was preparing to write this week’s article, thinking about the New Year and common resolutions people make, I realized that my mom had already written what I wanted to say. She publishes a weekly blog about the Bible, including periodic reviews of books on Christian topics. Many Creeksiders have read through the Bible at the beginning of a new year before, and she articulates well why a formal plan is useful. With her permission, I’ve copied the first post of the series here, with more information at the end.
By Sharon Short
The first time I tried to read through the entire Bible in a year, I was nine years old and a participant in our congregation’s church-wide campaign to “Read It Through in ’62.” I dutifully slogged through each day’s assigned chapters in my little King James Bible and checked off the boxes in my reading record as I finished them. Although I certainly did not understand a great deal of what I read, I did make it to the end.
Since then I have started many a new year with the determination to complete a Bible reading plan designed to take me through the whole Bible by the end of the year—and I have fizzled out many times. However, even though the practice presents numerous challenges, I remain convinced that following a prescribed plan in one’s personal Bible reading offers significant advantages. In this post I will describe some of those advantages, and in two subsequent posts I will examine some difficulties involved in using Bible reading plans and suggest some strategies to offset these problems.
The primary benefit of a Bible reading plan is that it is comprehensive. No matter how it is structured—and there are many varieties—a plan is generally arranged to expose the reader to all parts of the Bible over a specified period of time. Without a reading schedule, it is very easy to keep returning to favorite, familiar sections of the Bible and to avoid or ignore the odder or more difficult ones. A thoughtfully organized reading plan ensures that the reader encounters all the books of the Bible in a balanced way.
Secondly, an effective Bible reading plan is systematic in that the texts are scheduled according to some logical framework. The most basic plans start with Genesis 1 on January 1 and continue straight through to Revelation 22 on December 31. However, there are other plans that alternate between Old and New Testament books, or that assign books in chronological order, or that specify readings from different genres on different days of the week. Situating each day’s selected texts into the overall context of a plan contributes to a developing sense of the content of the Bible as a whole.
Finally, a Bible reading plan is purposeful. The reader approaches each day’s Bible reading time with a clear sense of what he or she intends to accomplish that day, rather than wasting time paging around looking for something “interesting” to read. A reading schedule also helps to build a disciplined habit of consistent daily Bible reading, because the reader is motivated to keep current with the assigned texts.
The original post ends with a list of resources, with more information available in her December series on Bible reading plans. She would love to have more subscribers to her blog, so don’t hesitate if that interests you (link in the sidebar of the posts).