Here at the blog, we always encourage our readers to be in the Word as much as they can. What better topic for a post than reading the bible?
Today, some of us here at the blog are going to share our approach to bible reading. We hope you are encouraged by these comments. None of us believe we have the perfect approach. But, hopefully, if you're looking for some ideas, you'll get some.
My bible reading is influenced by the fact that I teach every week. That means that what I teach, I study. Even in the summer months, as I plan ahead, I'm reading what I will ultimately teach.
Starting on Monday, I read the passage every day, about four or five times. For each passage, I make up a worksheet which has the text on it in two versions, side by side. I use the ESV myself, but my students prefer the NIV. I just copy and paste from Bible Gateway, make nice wide margins and extra spacing, and that is where I begin my notes. Sometimes, I will do what is called "phrasing," but not every time. It's really time consuming, and I don't always have time. It is very beneficial, though, because it makes me slow down. I use a couple of commentaries to help me understand things I'm uncertain of. My goal in the first few days as I study is to be careful and slow, seeing the relationships between words, paragraphs and sections.
It's been quite a while since I read through the bible in a year, and this year I was inspired to do so after reading Tim Challies' blog, recommending God's Glory In Salvation Through Judgement. I don't always get to that reading every day, but I play catch up on Sundays. I also read the Psalms daily, using a morning and evening schedule from The Common Book of Prayer. Reading the Psalms feeds into my prayer time.
I do my bible study in the morning because my mind is well-rested. On some days, I take half an hour in the late afternoon to finish the Psalm readings for the day. Not everyone prefers morning reading, and I think it's a mistake to insist that it's the perfect time. My husband is not a morning person, and he prefers to read at night. The more important thing is to find the right time and place where one can be free from distractions.
Except for when I’m reading something purely for entertainment, I am a very slow reader because I don’t want to miss anything. I’m even slower with my Bible reading. I usually read 4 or 5 verses a day (or even fewer), paying particular attention to the connections between words and the flow of the argument. I also circle the key words and often do a little research to see how the author of the book I’m reading tends to use a specific word. If I have a commentary on the book I’m reading, I’ll read what that says about the passage.
I've also done a little Bible arcing, particularly for the gospel of John. Like phrasing, arcing takes a lot of time, so I've abandoned it, but I would like to pick it up again someday.
In the past year or so I’ve worked my way slowly through John, Hebrews, Romans, and Ephesians. Right now I’m reading/studying the second chapter of 1 Peter. Since most of my reading in recent years has been in the New Testament, when I finish 1 Peter I plan to move on to something in the Old Testament.
I’ve read through the whole Bible in a year a few times. While it was useful for me to do it in order to get an overview of scripture, I’ll probably never do it again. That kind of reading is a real chore for me. I enjoy my Bible reading much more when I’m not rushing through.
Unlike Kim, I study in the evening, because in my home, it’s the evenings that are quiet. One problem with studying the Bible in the evening is that can I get busy or tired and my Bible reading gets pushed off until tomorrow. This happens more frequently than I want to admit.
My Bible reading/study is constantly evolving. Even my original plan for this year has changed, because a friend recommended the study Behold Your God. After viewing the introductory video, I shared it with my husband. We knew this study would be a great fit for our family and we just started it this week.
During the week, I spend my morning study time working through Behold Your God. I plan to spend Saturday mornings reading through the Gospels, with a commentary as as reading companion. I probably read at a pace somewhere between Rebecca and Kim, so I expect to finish two of the Gospels this year.
On Sundays I like to review the Scripture from our sermon, again with a commentary as a reading companion. (We are currently studying Exodus, which is one reason I've chosen to study in the New Testament on my own.)
Each evening I finish out the day with New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional and the Scripture passage listed for further study. Ironic, I know; but it works best for me.
Getting back into a guided Bible study has made me realize how much of a benefit it is for me. When I finish Behold Your God, I will probably begin The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Books by Nancy Guthrie. I imagine the rest of my reading will continue as I've outlined here, but I'm always open to change.
I've given up trying to read the entire Bible every year. While I think it's very important to read through all 66 books, too often this has lead to my skimming the passage as quickly as possible so I can check the box. Consequently, I don't have a self-imposed deadline for my current reading/study. I read a passage in the morning along with the morning portion from Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon. This allows me to consider what I read throughout the day and do more digging in the evening, which works better for my schedule. It's also rather settling for my soul to go to bed having just been in the Word. Am I always consistent? No, but I push on.
I am currently reading through the Old Testament chronologically. This was inspired by my pastor's current sermon series on Genesis, which has been tracing God's promise of the coming Messiah throughout this book. I am taking up this same theme but extending it to the whole OT. I've read The Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy to get the big picture of the OT. I'm also reading From Paradise to the Promised Land: Tracing the Main Themes of the Pentateuch by T. Desmond Alexander. Alexander's book unpacks themes such as Abraham's faith, Passover, the Sinai covenant, and the Tabernacle and connects them to the New Testament. He also provides recommendations for commentaries and other resources for further study. I am currently in Exodus, so we will see whether I finish the OT this year or not.
A couple of years ago, I read through the Bible in 90 days. Apart from the time I read through the Bible chronologically, it was one of the most helpful things for my understanding of the Bible I'd ever done. I realized then that reading large chunks of Scripture was more helpful for me.
I've always been a big picture thinker. I can't really absorb details until I have a good overview. I tend to retain more by reading at a faster pace and then going back to it in a few months.
For the last couple of years, I've followed Professor Horner's Bible Reading System. In this plan, I read a chapter from several sections of the Bible each day. When I finish a section I start it again. For instance, if I don't miss any days, I read through the Gospels in 3 months (although it usually takes me closer to four). Reading through the prophets takes at least 8 months (but actually more like ten). As you can see, I miss days here and there. If I'm short on time, I just read a few of the chapters and don't worry about the whole list.
I've seen some interesting connections reading different chapters side by side. And since all the sections go at a different pace, I don't ever read the same chapters together. I return to the same sections every few months, and I pick up new details every time.
I usually read in the morning. If I don't get it done early it usually doesn't get done.
This isn't for everyone. Most people, like my friends, do better zeroing in on smaller sections. I'm a fairly fast reader, and my kids are old enough that they don't need much help in the morning. I doubt I could have managed this when my kids were small. But at this stage of life, with my current schedule, it works well for me.
It occurred to me that perhaps some of our readers would like to share some of their bible reading habits. If you would like to add something in the comments, that would be great, and I think others would benefit from it as well.