Christmas is approaching, the New Year is nearly upon us, and I know what question is on your mind: what Bible reading plan will you use for the coming year?
The Bible is the Word of God. We come to know God through his Word. As Christians, we want to know Him more. Regular Bible reading is an important way for us to grow in our knowledge of God and in closeness to him.
As a way to help you prepare to engage the Bible in the coming year, I want to offer a few thoughts and several resources.
1. Go slow.
There is no reason to rush through reading the Bible. It will still be there tomorrow, waiting to be read. Take your time. Pray over God’s Word. Let it shape the way you think, what you want, how you live.
2. Make a plan.
Don’t just say, “I’m going to read the Bible this year.” Have a plan for how you are going to do it. Set achievable goals and use one of the plans below to help you. (And if you’re new to the Bible or want to know how it’s all about Jesus, check out the Whole Story Reading Plan.)
3. Ask the right questions.
It’s one thing to read the words on the page. It’s another thing to engage with the living Word. One helpful way to do that is to ask good questions. The following three questions will guide your understanding, help you connect what you read to the gospel, and help you connect it to your life. This will go a long way towards making your reading engaging and fruitful.
- Who is God & what has he done? (The Gospel Question)
- Who am I? (The Identity Question)
- What is God calling me to do? (The Discipleship Question)
4. Prayer is more important.
This one may be a bit controversial, but I am convinced of it. If you have to choose between reading the Bible and drawing near to God in prayer today, go with prayer. Meditate on the sermon from Sunday. Reflect on the person and work of Jesus. Pray the Lord’s Prayer. Commune with your Father; Jesus died so you could and lives now to speak on your behalf (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Several Plans for the New Year
Below are a selection of plans that may prove helpful.
Discipleship Journal Plan: This is a great plan that takes you through the whole Bible in a year by giving readings from four different places each day. I’ve done it before, and plan to do it again in 2014. It is about a 15-20 minute commitment per day (some readings are just a few verse) It is also very flexible; there are only 25 readings per month, which builds in 5 “free days” to catch up if you happened to miss a day (in my book, this is a huge plus).
5x5x5 Reading Plan: This plan gives 5 readings in a week (weekends off) and takes you through the New Testament in a year. It is a 5-10 minute commitment per day.
The above plans can be found on the YouVersion Bible app for iPhone, Android, etc.
Wellspring 3 Year Plan: This is Year Two of the plan our sister church in Pleasanton put together. Many Grace Alamedans did Year One in 2013. It is a one chapter, 5-10 minute commitment per day, and the 2014 version should be posted soon.
Whole Story Reading Plan: This is a different sort of plan. It traces the whole storyline of the Bible—the gospel of Jesus Christ—from Genesis to Revelation. The plan skips around the Bible to show that one, overarching narrative—Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration—and labels each reading to tell you where you are in the story. It is only scheduled to take 60-90 minutes of reading per week for 8 weeks. Additionally, a series of “summary shortcuts” are included here in case you would like to speed things up a bit. If you have never read the Bible before or never understood how the whole Bible could be about Jesus, let me encourage you to use this plan!
If there isn’t a plan that looks good to you here, check out Justin Taylor’s blog where he has listed a number of plans.
Whatever plans or resources you use, the goal is simply to grow as disciples of Jesus in faith, hope and love.