January 29, 2011

Thoughts on Bible Reading Plans

Last January, I made a New Year's resolution to read through the entire Bible in one year, as many people do. I must confess that, though I have stuck with my reading plan, I have not in fact completed the plan yet. Still, I intend on completing this goal, but partly due to some inconsistency in my reading and partly because I have chosen to slow my reading down, I still have two months left. That being said, I thought that I would share my thoughts with you on reading the Bible in a year.

First of all, I think that wanting to read through the Bible is a noble and good desire. And reading the Bible quickly and in large sections has it benefits, if done correctly. Foremost of these benefits in my mind is the overview of the grand story, the meta-narrative. When we read books and chapters at a time, we can sometimes see better how things connect to one another and how the Bible truly is one story, with books written down at different times by different God-inspired authors.

Also, when reading quickly through, we can have a general idea of what each part of the Bible is about. This may allow us to know where to look when specific trials come our way, and have an idea of what areas we would like to study further.

On the other hand, I don't think that it's healthy to normally read Scripture in large portions without digging deeper. The Scriptures are breathed out by God and have riches farther down than we'll ever be able to delve. Therefore, we are called to meditate on God's Word and to write it on our hearts, and I believe that this is best done in smaller portions. I know there are times when I have spent more than an hour simply trying to understand a single verse. Because God's Word is deep and because our hearts are sinful, often we will have to grapple to truly comprehend and appreciate the beauty of this treasure, something that often can't be done with large portions of text.

The one qualm I had with my particular Bible reading plan (The Discipleship Journal Plan) was that often while reading in the Old Testament, I had to read between 3 and 5 chapters at a time to stay on track. Now, this wasn't always that bad, particularly when I was reading through the narrative portions, but especially when I tried to read books like Isaiah or Lamentations, I simply wished I could have had more time to take it in.

All in all, I think that trying to read the Bible in a year is a worthwhile endeavor and I think that I may attempt to do so every few years. But, I also believe that this should be accompanied with careful and specific study in the Word.




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