In general, there are two approaches to daily Bible-reading: reading for intimacy or reading for familiarity. Intimacy with the Bible comes through slow, meditative reading that focuses on small portions—deep study of key books, chapters, and verses. Familiarity with the Bible comes through faster reading of much larger portions—the entire sweep of the biblical narrative. Both are fine 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). (See Intimacy or Familiarity)
(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.)
My favorite daily Bible-reading plan is the 5 Day Bible Reading Program. I used it for several years in a row before deciding to try something different for 2019 (a decision I soon regretted). I went back to it in 2020 and am sticking with it again in 2021.
It has several features I love:
- It is a familiarity plan that covers the entire text of the Bible over the course of the year. Between January 1 and December 31 those who follow it read every word of the Bible.
- 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.
- 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 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, for 2021 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.
The 5 Day Bible Reading Program is a free download. 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).”