Several weeks ago, I preached on the spiritual discipline of Bible Study. I argued that reading Scripture is God’s primary means of revealing himself to us, is one of the most effective ways God forms us in righteousness, and is also an excellent way to build up one’s instincts in avoiding error.
Who knows; maybe you heard that sermon and started digging in to the Bible yourself. Or maybe you’d already begun a Bible reading plan at the beginning of the year and were reaffirmed in your commitment. Either way, I hope and pray you came away from that sermon more eager to open God’s Word than you were before.
But as I mentioned in that sermon, many of us can be intimidated by the practice of Bible study. This book is big, complex, not always in chronological order. In some ways the stories are incredibly relatable; in other ways they seem distant and irrelevant. Our historical context is drastically different from that of the authors and figures of both the Old and New Testaments, and it’s not always easy to bridge the gap of how their stories may apply to our lives. In short: Bible study can be hard, especially if you’ve never done it before. If you made the rookie mistake of starting in Genesis 1 and trying to read straight through, you may currently find yourself bogged down somewhere in Leviticus.
Allow me to make a Bible reading suggestion. This is the reading plan I’ve done for several years now, and have benefited from it greatly. If you take my advice, you won’t get through the entire Bible in a year, but you’ll still make a ton of progress. Maybe you’ll feel less pressure that way; and while you won’t be able to say you read the whole Bible in a year, perhaps you’ll have a deeper, more enjoyable, more spiritually beneficial practice. And of course, you’ll be less tempted to close your Bible on December 31, 2022 and not open it again in 2023.
Here’s what my (very simple) Monday through Friday Bible reading looks like:
- Five psalms each day (there are a few exceptions to this; for example, I usually stretch the lengthy Psalm 119 out across five days)
- One chapter of the Old Testament each day
- One chapter of the New Testament each day
For me, five days a week is the right balance of time off. If you take the same approach I take, you’ll read the entire Book of Psalms six to seven times per year, and the entire New Testament once per year. While you won’t read the entire Old Testament in one year, you’ll make a great deal of headway.
In addition, I’ve also developed the habit of reading out loud. It takes longer, and may mean that you need privacy to not feel like a weirdo. But I’ve found that reading out loud forces me to pay closer attention to each word, rather than thoughtlessly skimming. It may not help you, but it has certainly helped me.
Perhaps the best place to begin is Psalm 119. I mentioned it in my sermon several weeks ago; it’s a smorgasbord of affection for God’s rules, laws, and words. If the spiritual discipline of Bible study can teach us to love God half as much as that psalmist does, we’ll be in good shape.