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Bible Reading Plans


Robert Murray M'Cheyne was an early 19th century pastor and preacher in Scotland. Amongst his legacy is a well-known scheme for daily Bible reading. In its original formulation it takes the reader through the the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice per year. This means reading about four chapters a day, taken from different parts of the Bible.


The Chronological Bible Reading Plan will take you on a journey through the events of the Bible chronologically. This is a wonderful plan for putting the storyline of the Bible together.


This plan calls for reading all the books of the Bible in canonical order in one year (You begin in Genesis and read every book in the order it is listed in the Bible). Each day’s reading is about 3-4 chapters in length, with the exception of the Psalms (which are covered in 5 chapters per day). The idea is to read longer chapters in groups of three (e.g., Pentateuchal narratives, Gospels) and shorter chapters in groups of four. There are 7 “catch-up” days scattered throughout the calendar.


The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan offers special features that will aid you in your journey through the Bible.

  • By reading from four separate places in the Scriptures every day, you should be able to better grasp the unity of the Scriptures, as well as enjoy the variety of four different viewpoints.
  • You can begin at any point during the year.
  • To prevent the frustration of falling behind, which most of us tend to do when following a Bible reading plan, each month of this plan gives you only 25 readings. Since you’ll have several “free days” each month, you could set aside Sundays either not to read at all or to catch up on any readings you may have missed in the past week.
  • If you finish the month’s readings by the twenty-fifth, you could use the final days of the month to study the passages that challenged or intrigued you.
  • If reading through the entire Bible in one year looms as too large a task, you can alter the plan to meet your needs. For example, you could read the gospels and the wisdom books this year, and the other two categories next year.


    The plan is distinguished by the following features:

  • Proportionate weight is given to the Old and New Testaments in view of their relative length, the Old receiving three readings per day and the New getting one reading per day.
  • The Old Testament readings follow the arrangement of Jesus’ Bible (Luke 24:44—Law, Prophets, Writings), with one reading coming from each portion per day.
  • In a single year, one reads through Psalms twice and all other biblical books once; the second reading of Psalms (highlighted in gray) supplements the readings through the Law (Genesis–Deuteronomy).
  • Only 25 readings are slated per month in order to provide more flexibility in daily devotions.
  • The plan can be started at any time of the year, and if four readings per day are too much, the plan can simply be stretched to two or more years (reading from one, two, or three columns per day).


    The Grant Horner Bible Reading System requires the most daily reading of any of the programs listed. Each day, ten chapters are read, specifically covering: the Gospels, Pentateuch, the longer epistles, the shorter epistles/Revelation, wisdom literature, Psalms, Proverbs, historical books, prophets, and Acts. This plan allows the Bible to be read at least one-and-a-half times per year (history, prophets) and as often as once a month (Acts, Proverbs). It will take an average reader about 40 minutes to get through the 10 chapters.

    Strengths:

  • You will be tackling a lot of scripture.
  • It is not on a calendar, so if you are behind, you pick up where you left off. Also, if you don’t get to a chapter in a day, don’t fret.
  • This program really helps the reader to see the Bible in a framework and to make connections between disparate passages. On many occasions, I have covered something in the Gospels, only to see it come up again in the Pentateuch.
  • Weaknesses:

  • It involves a lot of reading. Ten chapters per day is a lot to cover. Because of the amount read, it is in not approached meditatively, but rather is designed to learn scripture.
  • It will take a lot of time. Feel free to break it up in chunks.

  • Three things make this plan somewhat unique in Bible reading plan-dom.

    First, it’s not so much a plan (singular) as it is a choice of plans (plural). You can choose to read straight through the Bible; or read from the Law on Mondays, the Prophets on Tuesdays, the Writings on Wednesdays, the Gospels on Thursdays, Acts/Letters on Fridays; or skip around from book to book; etc. The point is that with this plan the reader has flexibility to customize his or her reading agenda according to good sense and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    Second, by disconnecting the plan from the calendar, the reader can go at his or her own pace. Read through the Bible in a year, twice in a year, once in two years, or whatever. The goal isn’t to careen through the Scriptures checking boxes as fast as possible. The goal is to commune with the triune God, and to become like him through faith and obedience. If moving slowly through the Bible awakens your mind and heart for God, by all means slow down your pace. And don’t feel guilty about it! If, on the other hand, you begin to see the glory of God only after burying yourself under piles and piles of paragraphs, then adopt a pace that will move you quickly through the Bible. George Muller commended reading large volumes of Scripture; Spurgeon, short passages with lots of meditation. Either way, choose the pace at which you most frequently find yourself enjoying the living God.

    Third, the Old Testament arrangement follows the Hebrew Bible rather than the English Bible. Quirky though it may be, it encourages the reader to know the Old Testament the same way Jesus himself most likely knew it. Furthermore, there seems to be an intentional narrative design behind the Hebrew arrangement of books. If that’s so, there are fresh insights awaiting us as we read the Old Testament in the Hebrew order rather than the English order.


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