Do you want to read the Bible but need a plan to start? Finding the right one can feel daunting. There are so many factors to consider.
Are you a brand new believer and can only handle small segments of scripture at a time?
Or are you a busy mom of small children who are always on the go?
Or maybe you’re a seasoned believer looking for a new plan to get you re-engaged with God’s Word in a fresh way.
But which plan will you choose?
Will you study the Bible chronologically, as the events happened?
Or will you study the Bible topically?
Will you study one book at a time?
Will you read all of the Old Testament first, the New Testament, or a combination of both?
There are so many nuances to choosing a Bible reading plan. But if you are a beginner, I want you to focus on these three components as you filter through the factors and different options.
Focus on Formation Over Hitting Goals
When choosing a plan, sometimes our choices get clouded by things such as current, popular study methods or what a teacher or preacher suggests. Or who can read the Bible the fastest in a year? And while there is nothing wrong with those goals or trends, for a beginner, that can make it feel as though there is a right or wrong way to read the Bible. So instead of focusing on what method and plan, think about who you are becoming.
The Bible says we are conforming to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). So we know the end goal of our Bible reading, and the main reason we are choosing a plan is to become more Christ-like. So why not consider this as you choose a plan?
Think about the areas of your life where God may be shaping and conforming most. Maybe there is a great plan that can coincide well with the places where God is already at work.
For example, a few years ago, I was surrounded by people, who mainly studied the New Testament. Many of our conversations about God included New Testament themes, stories, and scriptures. But I found myself wanting more. I wanted to know about the Old Testament too. So I created a plan where I read one Old Testament book, one chapter at a time, and then when I finished that book. I would pick the next book from the New Testament. And I would do that until I had finished reading all the books of the Bible.
Another example would be when I was a brand new believer. I had never read the Bible for myself. But I felt as if God were challenging me to read the Word from cover to cover. He was already at work in that area of my life, so that informed my method of reading the Bible. I chose to start in Genesis, and I read the entire Bible from cover to cover, one chapter at a time.
So before you choose a plan, consider what the Lord is trying to teach you in this season. And then decide what type of Bible reading plan best supports the ways the Spirit is already at work. Always consider formation over current trends, cultural pressures, or, even, personal preferences when choosing a Bible reading plan.
Focus on Longevity Over Speed
As you read in my examples, both times that I’ve read through the Bible, I did so one chapter at a time. And sometimes there can be unintentional and unnecessary pressure to read through the Bible quickly with certain plans. One chapter at a time may be too fast for you to absorb all the value you could from reading a smaller segment at a time instead.
We are not in a race to see who can read the Bible as quickly as possible. We’re in a relationship with Jesus. And every time we open His Word and seek Him He speaks to us. But if we’re so committed to racing through the scripture to stay on track to finish the Bible in a year, we may miss some important conversations He has for us along the way.
There may be days you want to slow down and meditate on a certain passage. Then there may be days you are ready to breeze through and get to the next thing. The important thing to remember is that you are not reading the Bible to finish reading the Bible. As a believer, you are playing the long game with scripture. The Bible is the living and active Word of God (…). You will never be done reading it or studying it. So there is no real pressure to rush if you’re feeling limited in that area based on a certain Bible plan.
There isn’t a right or wrong plan or speed or way to read through the Bible. So as you consider a plan, choose one that works for your pace. You are a committed believer in Jesus. You are in an eternal relationship with Him. You are not looking for a one-and-done plan. You may read through the Bible multiple times over in your life span. So when considering those things, choose a plan that allows you to freely worship and meet with God at a flexible pace.
Focus on Conversation Over Comprehension
Once we are swept away by all the options for a Bible reading plan, we can forget that Bible reading is about conversing with God. Before Christ, the people of God participated in many religious acts, such as offering sacrifices, atoning for sins, and meeting with Levitical priests before they could even have their prayers presented to God (Leviticus 1:1-9, Leviticus 4:5-35). But thankfully, because of Christ’s sacrifice and complete atonement of our sins, we now can come boldly before the throne of God, and we won’t die (Hebrews 4:16). Praise God right?!
In light of that good news, when considering a plan remember the value of reading is really because you’re communing with God and Christ! And since God desires to dwell with us, I believe it honors God when the plan we read includes some element of writing down those conversations.
When I wrote my Genesis Bible Study, I purposefully included lined journaling pages so you can have space to process your questions, prayers, and conversations with God.
As we write out these conversations while we work our way through our reading plan two things happen. First, we reinforce timeless truths into our hearts, minds, and neural pathways. But we also have a written account of God’s faithfulness to answer the things we pray about, the questions we have, and the ways He shows up when we seek Him.
So when choosing a plan, consider a study that has a written element, such as journaling prompts, application questions, prayer prompts, or as an added bonus space to jot down as you progress. We may not always understand everything we read in God’s Word, but journaling and processing what we read in our conversations with Him is helpful.
Sometimes as Bible study beginners, we struggle to select the right Bible reading plan. By using three components to guide your decision-making process, you can eliminate some of the overwhelm when it comes to narrowing down the right plan for you. Try focusing on these three things today: formation over hitting goals, longevity over speed, and conversation over comprehension.