About Bible Reading Plans
Between Christmas and New Year, many of us will begin thinking about a Bible reading plan for the new year. I want to offer some thoughts that have been helpful to me over the years, as I have wrestled with and failed over Bible reading plans as much as I have succeeded:
- The goal of Bible reading can be put in many ways from Scripture, but nowhere do I read, “To be more knowledgeable and have smarter answers at Bible study.”
- The most succinct goal is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-40) On these two commandments rests the Bible itself.
- Not the glory of God? Yes, which is the goal of loving Him. As Piper says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied [read: love] in Him.” Read your Bible to maximize the glory of God by learning to love Him in every way possible.
- Therefore, prioritize the experience of loving, resting in, and being satisfied by God, over checking the “read the chapter” box. When a passage grips you, linger over. Enjoy it. Let your mind run with it. And if that means you don’t finish that day’s other reading, so be it.
- Respond to the passage in prayer. Express your need of the Spirit’s enabling to believe and do what you read. If life interrupts, it is enough that you expressed the need.
- Falling behind should be no cause for guilt. Leave the unread days with the Lord, and pick it up at today’s reading. Perhaps you will be moved to go back and catch up, or perhaps not. Regardless, no guilt. You are justified by the blood of Christ, not your Bible reading.
- Give yourself permission to temporarily exit your reading plan, if a particular Bible book has impacted you. Read it again . . . Soak in it . . . Go slow . . . Enjoy the truth . . . Eat all the spiritual meat that your appetite calls for. The rest of the Bible and your reading plan will be there when you’re done.
- About pace: be realistic, mostly ignoring what others do (or say they do). I currently follow the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan, and I read half the plan - two chapters a day. And even then, plenty of days I read only one.
- I have benefited greatly from Carson’s “For the Love of God” books, which follow M’Cheyne (you’ll find them in our bookstore).