Bible Reading Plans / ESV Reader’s Bible

Well… It is that time of year again. Everywhere you look someone is posting a list of Bible Reading Plans for 2015. Actually, I am probably a little late to the game seeing that there are only a couple of more hours left in 2014 (depending on where you are in the world), but as they say, “better late than never.”

Several months ago on this site I touted the new ESV Reader’s Bible in an article I called “We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Verse Numbers!” Since that time I have only come to appreciate and enjoy the ESV Reader’s Bible more and more. One of the things I quickly discovered about the design of the ESV Reader’s Bible is that it encourages you to open your Bible to a certain book and read it from start to finish, maybe in a single sitting. Because this is a different sort of reading than what is required by most Bible Reading Plans, tonight I would like to mention two Bible Reading Plans that I have found to be perfectly suited for use with the ESV Reader’s Bible. Actually, I am not sure that the term Bible Reading Plan best describes the two methods I plan to share, but I won’t get bogged down with semantics.

I will begin with what I am currently doing. Earlier this year I ran across this little tool I have really enjoyed using—particularly with my ESV Reader’s Bible. Instead of being like a traditional Bible Reading Plan, it is more of a tracker that helps you keep up with what you have read in the Bible and let’s you set your own pace in your readings. I have found that I enjoy this because, if I am going to be honest, the truth is that there are just some days I have more time to read than I do on other days. I also like it because I don’t feel pressured to stay on track with a timeline forced on me by a traditional Bible Reading Plan. This allows me to take my time and read at a pace suitable for meditation and prayer. And best of all, because it is not a plan with a schedule, there is no way to get behind!

This tool (which I found on a site called Rural Theologian and was attributed to a friend of the site owner’s named Seth Brown) basically lists every chapter in the Bible on page smaller than an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper. The intent is that you place this little sheet of paper in your Bible and mark off the chapters as you read them. No schedule. Just set your own pace and use this tool to keep up with what you have read. I keep it in the back of my ESV Reader’s Bible and get it out and mark it off everyday when I read. I have alternated between reading a single book at a time and reading a book from the Old Testament and New Testament simultaneously. Some days I read several chapters. Other days I end up spending a lot of time in one or two chapters. I just do what I want to do (or what the Holy Spirit leads me to do each particular day) and I will probably make it through the Bible in a year and a half to two years.

So if this sounds like something you are interested in, use the link to the Rural Theologian site above to download a copy of Seth Brown’s Bible reading tracker. Or you can grab it from me using this link.

The other plan I’d like to mention is one that I have used a few variations of in the past. Like the Bible reading tracker I just mentioned, it will work very well with the ESV Reader’s Bible because part of the method is to ignore the chapter and verse divisions focusing instead on each book as one coherent unit. I think the most helpful version and description of this method can be found in a post by Joe Carter on the Gospel Coalition website entitled How To Change Your Mind. I originally found Joe’s description of this method at the beginning of last year, but Joe reposted it last week in preparation for the New Year. It is a plan I have used in the past and even a bit with the ESV Reader’s Bible.

Joe describes this method in four simple steps:

1. Choose a book of the Bible.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat step #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.

Now, the advantages of this method should be pretty obvious. By the time you finish reading a book 20 times, you are going to have a pretty good grasp on what it contains. And by the time you get through the whole Bible using this method (which admittedly will take a while), you are going to have good understanding of the Bible as a whole.

Now I won’t reiterate everything Joe says in his article because I want you to go read it for yourself. In it he offers some very practical tips for applying this method to your own Bible reading time. But, I think you will find that it shares some of the same advantages of using the Bible reading tracker I mentioned previously. Again, there is no schedule that requires you to stick to a pace that you may find difficult if you are trying to read the Bible prayerfully and meditatively. And again, there is no way to get behind!

I’d also like to make available a little chart in PDF format that I have used with this reading plan in the past that helps you keep up with how many times you have read each book.

Now, the truth is, there are many different methods you can use for reading the Bible in 2015. What really matters is that you are reading it. I hope that you will. But I also hope that some of you will find one of these two methods helpful and will experience and enjoy the Bible in a whole new way this year.

Happy New Year and May the Lord Bless You and Keep You!

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