Bible Reading

Over the years I’ve seen lots of different programs for reading your Bible, and they are all good. Some are charts with a little square for each chapter to check off, some have a required number of chapters a day, and others have you skipping around all over the place. Whatever gets God’s people reading the Word is great by me. I’ve tried a few different systems over the years, but here is the one I have settled on. I must have learned it from my husband or his father before him or both.

Get yourself two bookmarks. Start reading the Old Testament and mark your place. Start reading the New Testament and mark your place. Keep reading. When you finish, start over and do it again.

I like reading in Psalms or Proverbs as well, so I need an extra bookmark for my system. And I freely confess that I don’t get it all read every day. But when I do read, I do it like this: I read a bit in the O.T. and mark my place, read a bit in the N.T. and mark my place, and read a psalm or some proverbs and mark my place. Pretty straight forward system.

This works well for me and I bet it would work just as well for anyone. You read and you keep reading, and you read it again. My husband has a personal method that works well for him. Since he loves to read and averages a book a week, he makes a policy to read the Bible first and answer few Bible Questions before he picks up anything else. You may need a different prompt. Whatever works is good.

I wanted to finish the Old Testament by the end of the year, but I’ve only made it to Habakkuk. Tomorrow I start Zephaniah. But when I finish up, I’ll be back in Genesis for another run through. The idea is to read the Bible and then read it again and then keep reading it over and over to the end of our lives.

I used to worry if I didn’t think I got all there was to get out of each verse, so I would go back and reread. But my husband wisely told me to stop doing that. “Just read it,” he said. “Don’t worry about missing something. Just keep reading and each time through you’ll get more and more.” That has kept me going forward without a lot of backtracking. The goal is to get through the Bible many times in our lifetime, one chapter at a time.

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23 thoughts on “Bible Reading

  1. I think the “jest read it” approach is particularly helpful. I started out this year writing a page or two each day about what I’d read, but I dropped that pretty quickly. I don’t want to read so fast that it goes in one eye and out the other, but if I get hung up on listening to my thoughts rather than just hearing God’s words, then I’m rather missing the point.

    Audio Bibles are also useful, and you can find them online for free (just need to invest the time in downloading). Here are a couple resources:

    KJV, WEB and numerous foreign languages (you can also order CDs inexpensively)
    WEB again

    I have an “All Music Bible” playlist on my iPod, so I get random chapters when I’m listening to that. A few months ago I used it as a tool for spiritual discipline by finding something in every chapter to give thanks for. I bet that would work for meditating on some theological truth or some aspect of God’s character. Not systematic study, of course, but a nifty way to quiz oneself to gauge attitude or direct thoughts.

  2. Thank you for such a straightforward plan. Other plans have left me scrambling to catch up and feeling guilty when I fall hopelessly behind! This sounds like a…plan!! 🙂

  3. I was really mad when Nike stole my personal slogan: “Just do it.” (I’m afraid I can’t get away with Miss Kyriosity’s accent here in California). That idea works well for many things in life: housework, disciplining our children, eating properly, etc. If we make it too complicated, then we usually just give up. It helps to look back and see the progress we’ve made so that we stay encouraged, instead of comparing to others who seem to be leaving us in the dust, but never getting too smug as we compare ourselves to God’s standard for us which we ought to always aim for.

    Thank you for the reminder of sticking with what’s so important!

  4. Nancy,
    Your encouragement to be in the Word, to read the Bible from cover to cover is not only a great word, but a necessary word for Christian women of today. I am amazed how often I talk with women who have been Christians for quite some time and have never read the Bible all the way through. I’m not meaning to sound judgmental here because I used to be one of them. Then, many years ago someone told me that I was MISSING OUT by only reading certain parts of the Bible. I was missing so many gems and jewels that God wanted me to see and know! It was like reading only parts of a love letter someone had given me and deciding the other parts weren’t worthwhile. I began my plan to get through the entire Bible. For years now, I have used Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Bible reading plan. However, I don’t stress about getting through the Bible in a year. That can make those “Read Through the Bible in a Year Plan’s” laborious. Indeed, just get through it! Another thing that inspired me was deciding that I wanted each of my children to have one of my Bibles after I go to be with Jesus. I wanted them to have a Bible that I read from cover to cover, marked up, wrote notes in, and left dates beside verses that lept from the pages! I want them to remember that John 8:31 was one of there mom’s favorite verses which says, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine.” It’s been great getting new Bibles every couple of years. I’m almost done with the Bible my son, Adam, (child number four) will get one day. Yes and Amen to reading our Bibles from cover to cover! It is an honor, a privilege and our sacred staple by which we can grow in the true knowlegde of Christ, the Word made flesh!

  5. I have often found it a blessing to read different versions of the Bible. ESV, King James, New King James etc. keep me reading and rereading the Word without putting my mind on autopilot when it comes to often read sections of scripture. What we need to realize is that we rob ourselves by not disciplining ourselves to be saturated with the Word of God.

  6. I have been reading through the entire Bilble each year for many years now. I started out with reading 2 chapters in the O.T. and 2 in the N.T. along with a Proverb and Psalm for the day. Last year I tried a little different method which I found I liked even better. This method involves starting at Genesis and reading 4 chapters a day until finishing the book, then beginning a book in the N.T.-Matthew. After finishing that book, I switch back to the O.T.-Exodus. This has more continuity as I read through one complete book at a time. What a joy it is to read God’s Word.

  7. A belated comment, because I just saw this fine discussion:

    It’s very encouraging that I’m not the only one who can’t get those daily plans to work. The problem seems to be that sooner or later you miss a day or don’t finish a reading, and once you’ve fallen off the wagon, it’s hard to get back on. I even found a computer program online that let you plan the portions to read daily in order to finish in a specified time, but that still didn’t work. Now I just use a bookmark and “keep on keeping on” however long it takes. I’m using this in our home school, and we make it through the entire Bible in closer to 2 years, but at least we’re doing it now!
    It seems to be kind of like dieting – you can’t get all flustered and quit when you mess up – you just have to keep plugging and the results will accumulate over the long term.

    Also, a question: has anyone tried marking different books with the date when you finish them? Theoretically it would free you to read them in any order and still make sure not to neglect any part of the Bible.

  8. You know, this makes perfect sense! I do this with my kids when reading The Child’s Story Bible to them (ages 4, 3, and 1) and really, I am a child, too. I also do like those audio Bibles, like Valerie mentioned. It seems I can read a passage over and over and over and over and it still seems new to me. But let me hear it, and I remember it so much better.

  9. Hi Sylvia,

    Over the years I have memorized different verses or portions of Scripture. One of the benefits of singing the psalms has been the memorization that comes with it. But if you are asking if I am using a Bible memory program, then, no, I’m not.

  10. Mrs. Wilson,
    Thank you for the great post! I have been using your approach to reading through the Bible since I first read your suggestion a number of years ago – I think you suggested it in a Femina article, or maybe Fruit of Her Hands? At any rate – it has brought such fruitfulness, sans frustration of feeling that I’m not “doing it right” because I typically can’t keep up with a plan. (Although, I think the plans to read in a year are wonderful, and I have great admiration for those who successfully do them)
    We also have been learning the Westminster Shorter Catechism for the past few years at our church. We work with our kids (we have 7 – ages 11 years to 19 months)every day on a question – the older kids also do a proof text. (even our 19 month old grins happily when we ask her “Who made you?” “GOD!”) Then we present our hard work on the Lord’s Day to our pastor and hear other families’ work as well – before our regular worship time. It is just so edifying to hear families- Dads, Moms, big kids, little kids, reciting God’s Word – and especially our own precious ones offer the fruit of their efforts. A double blessing is that we all are memorizing God’s Word (something I thought I wasn’t capable of doing- I could never remember *where* I read something in the Bible!) and learning the great doctrines of our faith – repeating the same words godly men and women have for generations.
    We recently listened to Mr. Wilson’s Scottish Seas audio. 🙂 What a wonderful story! Our kids loved it – but what was especially dear was how they recited the catechism questions along with the characters in the story – with huge grins of recognition and delight on their faces.
    Sorry for the novel! – I hesitated to write it all – but hoped it might be of encouragement.
    I’m grateful you and your girls are blogging – what a blessing to so many of us!
    Thank you!


  11. Sorry about that–not sure what happened. Let me try my comment again…

    >>One of the benefits of singing the psalms has been the memorization that comes with if anyone is interested.

  12. What in the world? Wish there was a preview feature. One more time, and if it doesn’t work, I give up. Sorry!

    At a former church we often sang the Psalms and other biblical texts, and it’s amazing how quickly you can memorize large portions of scripture when you’ve been singing it. I’ve got a couple of examples (mp3 recordings) of this on my blog here if anyone is interested.

  13. Nancy,
    I met you briefly in Monroe. Again, i cannot begin to tell you how much your books and blog have moved and inspired me.
    Thank you for your testimony! Thank you for your voice and advice and wisdom.

  14. Femina (Nancy Wilson) wrote on 1-21-08 concerning her Bible reading schedule. Like her I too attempt to read at a regular schedule. A friend of mine (more like my spiritual father/mentor) encouraged me to read from both the OT & the NT daily. He was reading about 2 chapters each day from each testament. This sounded like a good idea and thought that I could incorportate it easily. However, over time I have found my self reading closer to 3 chapters daily from both the OT & NT. What this format does is allows me to read the OT about once a year and the NT over the same time period at three times a year. I start at Genesis and Matthew and read through each book respectfully thereafter. I have also taken up the challenge by Dr. David Jeremiah to read the Book of Proverbs each month. I look forward to this task. Happy reading!


  15. This is a great method. Now I don’t feel like I’m floundering about. And I like the “just read it” advice too. I’ll make much better progress. Thanks!

  16. I watched my Grandmother read through the Bible numerous times, and noted in her last Bible(she wore them out reading them) before her death, that she would date a chapter/passage. I found that to be an excellent method to note what you have and haven’t read as I have a tendency to move papers & book marks around in my Bible. This isn’t as consistent a method as the above, however it does help when you are using it for study, to affirm you’ve actually read the chapter on a previous occasion. Thanks for the encouragment to read!

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