It’s hard to believe that another year has passed and 2016 is knocking on the door. As you consider the upcoming year, take time to do an honest evaluation of your past year. How much Bible reading did you accomplish? Do you have any way of tracking it? I want to encourage you to choose a Bible reading plan and chart it out during 2016. This will enable you to stay on a set schedule and chart your progress throughout the year.
Choosing From the Bible Reading Plans
First, you need to choose how you will read the Bible. Are you a tangible book person? Would you rather spend time reading your daily Bible passages from a physical book rather than through a phone or e-reading device? Perhaps an app for your phone that automatically synchronizes with your tablet would be a good pick for you. In either case, you need to develop a plan. Many different Bible reading plans have been organized over time and some of the most popular are listed below:
- Beginning to End: Read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
- Historical: Read through the Bible as they were written historically, based on the estimated date of their writing.
- Chronological: Read the Bible as the events occurred in real time. This plan tried to organize each event in the Bible and put it in an orderly flow.
- Old and New: Each day includes a passage from both the Old Testament and New Testament. One of the most popular is the Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Bible Reading Calendar.
Choosing a Good Time and Place
It may seem crazy, but organizing the time and location for your Bible reading is important. This will enable you to stay on track through the year without allowing unnecessary distractions to hamper you on a daily basis. It’s also important to think about your vacation and travel calendar so that you can mentally prepare yourself to compensate for the “off routine” approach during those days.
If you’re like me, you like to get up early and start the day by reading (and drinking coffee). I learned a long time ago that planning my time and location for reading is critical for me to stay on track. Otherwise, a long list of distractions are waiting for me throughout the day and before long, I’m way off track.
Recommended Reading Plan
I personally like the ESV app that’s available in the app store. It works on your phone and tablet. One of the things that I really enjoy about the app is the simple approach that it provides. Some apps are so bulky and complex that it works against the user at times. I have found the ESV app to be a really easy and simple approach to reading through the Bible.
If you have the ESV app, you will notice a small icon at the bottom of the screen that resembles a calendar. If you click on that icon, a list of reading plans will appear. There are 16 different Bible reading plans that include daily readings in the Psalms and Proverbs and several different 1 year Bible reading schedules. Once again, choosing a full year schedule is a great way to stay on track, and they’re all really good – it’s really about your style and preference at this juncture.
Some plans will allow you to read Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs all in a single day. Other plans will balance between the Old and New Testaments. For me, I personally prefer the M’Cheyne Bible reading schedule that was developed by Robert Murray M’Cheyne. It does a good job of balancing the Old and New Testaments.
In the ESV app, once you choose a plan, it automatically provides your daily Bible reading for you. There is also a percentage tracking system that shows you each day how much of the Bible you have read by percentage.
Proceed With Caution
Robert Murray M’Cheyne understood the advantages of a good Bible reading plan, but he likewise understood the dangers. He wrote to his church and warned them of reading the Bible out of formality, self-righteousness, carless reading, and out burdened approach (from a heavy yoke that’s too heavy to bear).
Reading the Bible is about knowing God and growing to love Him in a more intimate manner each day. If you’re merely reading words on a page rather than seeing and experiencing God from the Bible, you’re missing the point. God isn’t going to grade us on our percentage of Bible reading at the end of the year. However, a disorganized reading plan will likewise minimize spiritual growth, and that’s one thing we seek to avoid in choosing a good plan. God wants His children to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him. What better way to accomplish this than by a good systematic Bible reading plan. Rather than merely opening up the Bible at random, read it verse-by-verse. As an older man, George Muller once said the following to a group of young believers:
“Now in brotherly love and affection I would give a few hints to my younger fellow-believers as to the way in which to keep up spiritual enjoyment. It is absolutely needful in order that happiness in the Lord may continue, that the Scriptures be regularly read. These are God’s appointed means for the nourishment of the inner man. . . .Consider it, and ponder over it. . . . Especially we should read regularly through the Scriptures, consecutively, and not pick out here and there a chapter.” 
- George Mueller, A Narrative of Some of the Lord’s Dealing with George Muller, Written by Himself, Jehovah Magnified. Addresses by George Muller Complete and Unabridged, 2 vols. (Muskegon, Mich.: Dust and Ashes, 2003), 2:834.