Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bible-Reading Plan

I've had several conversations recently with people who feel guilty for not reading their Bibles more. And that guilt causes them to steer away from any sort of discipline, and the result is that months and years pass by without spending significant time in scripture. And each time that realization surfaces, the guilt recycles and builds on itself, becoming more and more powerful.

A number of years ago I decided to follow one of those "read through the Bible in a year" plans. It took me two and a half years! For me it wasn't that I forgot to read it. It was more that I had difficulty not studying it. (It takes a lot longer to cross-reference thoughts and stories than it does to just read through the stuff.) My experience has been that when I allowed myself the freedom to "surf" the Bible, it became alive to me -- even if I missed the artificial deadline.

I've now been practicing a daily time of scripture and prayer for around 18 years now. Early on I decided that it's not about getting through the Bible, but about reading in the Bible. So, I'm not so concerned about reading through the Bible this year; I've decided to read in the Bible everyday for the rest of my life. No, I don't do it everyday, but I do it almost every day. And I love my experience in Scripture so much that I want to pass along the pattern that I've found to be sustainable and energizing:
FOUR CHAPTERS A DAY
Think of the Bible as four sections, and read one chapter a day from each section.When you get to the end of a section, start over at the beginning of that section, and keep on going in the other sections.  
1. WORSHIP & WISDOM: Psalms to Ecclesiastes. Let these chapters lead you in worship and guide you with wisdom. You’ll read through this section once every seven months.

2. STORY OF GOD & HIS PEOPLE: Genesis to Malachi. Read the stories of God and his people, leading up to Christ. You’ll read through this section once every two years.

3. STORY OF JESUS & HIS CHURCH: Matthew to Acts. Read the stories of Jesus and his Church. You’ll read through this section three times a year.

4. LETTERS TO THE CHURCH: Romans to Revelation. Learn from the apostles about how to live out our faith. You’ll read through this section two times a year.

As you develop this lifestyle habit, you will receive a balanced, ongoing experience of sitting under the whole counsel of scripture! That thought is way more exciting than just checking off four chapters a day, or following whatever pattern seems sustainable to you. 

May God meet with you, and grant you wisdom and discernment through your investment in knowing him.