In my way of thinking, there are two approaches to daily Bible-reading: reading for intimacy or reading for familiarity. Intimacy with the Bible comes by slow, meditative reading that focuses on small portions—deep study of books, chapters, and verses. Familiarity with the Bible comes through faster reading of larger portions—the entire sweep of the biblical narrative. Both are perfectly good approaches to the Bible and Christians thrive on a healthy mixture of the two. There is great benefit in knowing the Bible as a whole (familiarity) and in knowing the most important parts in detail (intimacy). (For more on this, see my article “Intimacy or Familiarity.”)
My favorite daily Bible-reading plan is the 5 Day Bible Reading Program. I have successfully used it for many years and intend to use it again in 2023. I gladly commend it to you.
It has several features I especially appreciate:
- It is a familiarity plan that covers the entire text of the Bible over the course of the year. Those who follow it will read every word of the Bible in the year ahead.
- It is a pseudo-chronological plan that covers the text of the Bible in the order the events happened (with the exception of Job which comes at the end). Thus, for example, the Psalms come at appropriate moments in the life of David, the books of Kings and Chronicles are read in harmony, and so on. This helps set the events in their historical context. Yet even though it’s chronological, it’s only pseudo-chronological. There are Old Testament and New Testament readings each day and the gospels are interspersed through the year. I find this an ideal compromise over a strictly chronological program in which you read the entire OT before touching the NT.
- It is a 5-day plan. A benefit of a 5-day plan (as opposed to a 7-day plan) is that there is less chance of falling far behind. At 5 days per week it is far more doable than at 7 days—there is always a chance to catch up. Also, it allows a day or two of reading something different for those who, for example, like to read and ponder the sermon text on a Sunday morning or for those who don’t do personal devotions on Sunday.
- It is a free plan. It’s free for the taking! They’ve got a nice little print-out you can download, print, fold in half, and put inside your Bible. It’s got boxes to tick as you complete each day and each week. Or you can use the ReadingPlan app to organize the plan even while reading through Logos, the ESV app, or a printed Bible. Though it is free, they have launched a Patreon account for those who would like early access, access to more features, or who would just like to offer a bit of support.
- (Note: Though it comes with an optional “Reader’s Companion,” I do not recommend that component.)
The 5 Day Bible Reading Program is a free download and will be available on December 26 (with Patrons able to get it before then). I echo their hope for the program: “God’s blessings rest with those who will read, understand, and live by His Word. May this guide help you to that noble end. ‘Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path’ (Psalms 119:105).”
(Parenthetical Note: If you prefer an “intimacy” plan, I recommend the Reading the Bible with John Stott guides and/or the God’s Word for You series. Both are excellent.)