Monday, January 5, 2009

Bible Reading Plan for the New year

If you are anything like me then your new year often starts with a few resolutions, which you will invariably fail at. This year I want to get more exercise and read more poetry. The exercise is going well, but then I used to do so regularly until the sleepless nights of being a parent set in. Now the kiddies are sleeping through the night. The poetry is trickier, I am not good at reading poetry because I read too fast. So I am trying to just read a couple of poems at a time and return to them. Reading fast is good for novels and text books when the aim is to process events and information. But when it comes to poetry if you dont slow down and savour the words it's rather like gobbling down a delicately seasoned meal, you will miss the whole point - which is to savour and dwell upon the artful creation. One of the reasons it is good to read the Bible in its original languages is because it forces you to read slower, to notice each word. I have just started to learn Hebrew and although I can only read a few verses I am already being struck by the poetry of the original, where a few verses can be savoured and dwelt upon and enjoyed again and again. Which brings me round rather awkwardly to the subject of the post. After many years of struggling, I have finally found (or rather written) a Bible reading plan that works for me. It works for me because I get to read big chunks at a time instead of four or five little bits each day. And it works for me because if I miss days or even whole weeks I can catch up without to much difficulty. There is lots of space in it, but yet it gets me through the whole Bible in a year. The aim of it is not so much devotional (although there is no reason not to use it as such) but to gain familiarity and a holistic knowledge of the text, instead of just dwelling on my favourite bits.

Here's how it goes, you need to read Psalm every other day (or every day to do Psalms twice in the year. Then there is a OT history book and a minor prophet each month and a gospel each quarter. All the other books are fitted in around them so as to be reasonably evenly distributed.

1 Genesis, Hosea, Lamentations, John
2 Exodis, Joel, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Romans, Jude
3 Leviticus, Amos, Ezra, Neemiah, 1+2 Thessalonians, 1+2 Peter
4 Numbers, Obadiah, Daniel, Mathew, 1+2 Timothy and Titus
5 Deuteronomy, Jonah, Song of Songs, 1+2 Corinthians
6 Joshua, Micah, Proverbs, Luke
7 Judges, Nahum, Job, Acts
8 Ruth, Habakuk, Isaiah, Galatians, 1, 2+3 John
9 1st Samuel, Zephaniah, Ezekiel, Ephesians, James
10 2nd Samuel, Haggai, Jeremiah, Mark
11 1st + 2nd Kings, Zechariah, Philippians, Revelation
12 1st +2nd Chronicles, Malachi, Colossians, Philemon, Hebrews

If you go through that list at three chapters a day (plus a Psalm) you will easily read the whole Bible in a year. If you find yourself getting behind just add a few more chapters a day till you catch up. If I finish a months reading with time to spare then I can use that time to get ahead, reread something which had grabbed me, or whatever. Reading the whole Bible each year is a great discipline, there is always something new to discover. If you find yourself getting jaded, try a different translation, or better yet a different language :)!

Have a look at this for heaps of links to other Bible Reading plans.

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