I am just completing my 20th year in a row reading through the Bible cover to cover. This practice is one that fills my spiritual tank and which provides the fuel that drives my leadership.
But like many others, I found it to be a very challenging discipline at first. Simply starting at Genesis and plowing my way through was cumbersome, and many of the “bible-in-a-year” plans that I looked at didn’t seem much better.
But then around my third year I realized that if I was going to stick with this discipline I would need to re-arrange the reading order in a new way. And so it was that I developed my own bible reading plan that has served me well ever since.
The key, I discovered, was to assemble a plan that was built on five important principles:
1. Jesus’ story needs to be read…often.
Early on I realized that I want to revisit the life and ministry of Christ throughout the year. My plan places the four gospels in each season of the year.
2. Name the elephant in the room – Some parts of the bible are boring.
Plowing through some sections of the Law or the minutia of genealogies can suck the life out of bible reading. I intersperse these sections with regular “bursts” of Psalms and Proverbs.
3. The Prophets come to life when they’re matched with their history.
I like to provide context for the major and minor prophets by positioning these readings as near to their corresponding history book as possible.
4. Grouping the Epistles creates context and texture.
I love working through the Pauline epistles, taking a “gospel break” then tackling the other letters a bit later in the year.
5. Have a strong finish line.
I’ve always had a special appreciation for “the disciple Jesus loved”. I end the year with John’s gospel, followed by his epistles, then the Revelation. To me this provides a wonderful year-end conclusion to the journey.
Now, John Ortberg has rightly observed that while getting through the bible is good, getting all of the bible through you is what really matters. Reading the bible all the way through is not in and of itself spiritually significant. But the discipline of spending time in scripture can yield marvellous results.
If you want to check out my plan
Whatever plan you use, stick with it, and watch as God’s Spirit breathes His life into your leadership.