With our personal vacations postponed, schools turned virtual, conferences cancelled, and employers and employees settling into work from home routines, the yearly planner became almost farcical by the second quarter of 2020. I think most of us threw our 2020 Planning Calendars in the trash by mid-April. Perhaps your Bible reading plan also got discarded as well. Life was (and still is) chaotic.
But do you have a Bible reading plan for 2021? Have you already picked one and are cruising along? Or are you still looking for the right one? If the latter, here are some ideas to help you decide:
Hard/Softcover Bible Reading Plans
For those of us who still like to underline, tab, and highlight books that we physically hold in our hands (my husband, for example), these are reading plan ideas for you:
- The One Year Chronological Bible: This arrangement places the books, chapters, and even verses of the Old and New Testament in the order the events historically happened. Publisher Tyndale explains, “Prophetic books are interwoven with the historical accounts they accompanied. Psalms follow the events about which they were written. Proverbs are placed in the time they were compiled. The life of Christ is woven into one moving story….” Various versions from different publishers can be found here.
- New Testament in a Year: Organized into 365 daily readings and usually accompanied with a devotional and questions for deeper thinking and journaling, these reading plans may allow for perhaps greater focus or in-depth study. It’s also a great plan for those of us in a difficult season of life where time is minimal. I found various versions of this devotional reading plan: NIV, NET, and ESV.
- Read the New Testament in the approximate order it was written: No special devotional book is necessary for this plan. Just grab any Bible off your shelf (or on your Smartphone) and read the New Testament in the following order:
- James, Paul (Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Colossians, Philemon, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus), Mark, Matthew, Luke, Acts, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, and John’s writings (Gospel of John, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Revelation). Many thanks to Dr. Terri Darby Moore for this suggestion.
Online or Smartphone App Bible Reading Plans
For those of us who like to read on the go, on tablet or smartphone, these ideas are for you. Bonus: They are also free.
- YouVersion app (Bible.com) has several Bible Reading Plans available. Browse their plans here. A few that grab my attention are as follows:
- The One Year Chronological Bible: This one year Bible is the NLT version, which has an easy flow for daily reading.
- Bible Project | New Testament in a Year: The Bible Project includes short videos for each book for greater understanding.
- Bible Project | Old Testament in a Year: Same as above.
- NT 260 (Parts One to Four): The NT 260 plan also goes through the New Testament in a year, but it only has readings 5 days a week, allowing the weekends to be used to catch up on missed days or for reflection.
- My Daily Briefing: Perhaps neither a physical book nor an app are your thing, but you find organizing your daily life helpful in email form. My Daily Briefing has a 365-Day Chronological Reading Plan that will be sent to you via your email.
Bible reading plans come in all types, styles, forms, and versions. I’ve highlighted only a few. The choices may seem overwhelming. Therefore when choosing the plan for you, here are some things to keep in mind.
Only you know how much time, energy, and focus you have in your current season of life. Spending time in the Word is important, but you also want your reading plan to be realistic. (Otherwise you won’t actually do it.)
When I was working in the corporate world, my workdays were long but my weekends relatively free. If I missed a day or two in The One Year Bible, I had time to catch up on the weekend. I also traveled frequently and the 4-5 hours a week on a plane made for great interrupted Bible study time.
But now I’m a stay-at-home mom with a young child who’s recently dropped naps. I struggle to find time to shower and make the bed. A plan such as the “New Testament in a Year” or “A Chapter a Day” is more realistic and attainable for me.
Be Gracious (to Yourself)
Don’t mentally beat yourself up if you miss a day. Start where you left off. The year has 365 days, yes. But if it takes you 400 days to finish The One Year Bible, that is still an amazing accomplishment.
Understand the Purpose
The purpose is life change, not “checking a box” on your list. While at times your reading plan might seem laborious—the book of Leviticus is not for the faint of heart—always be mindful of the overall purpose without becoming legalistic.
Everyone is busy. Everyone is juggling work, family, meal planning, exercise, errands, and more. Granted a retiree might have more time than a parent of young children or teenagers (although I know of some pretty busy retirees), everyone is trying to figure how they will squeeze another 15-30 minutes out of their day.
Here are some ideas for finding more time:
Combine activities: Download or buy an audible Bible. Listen to it while making dinner, driving to work, folding clothes, or walking the dog. I like to read my Bible on my iPad while walking on the treadmill. There’s something about my feet moving that allows my brain to focus.
Reduce activities: While this may be harder said than done, one thing we might do less of is watch the news. (What?!) Consider compartmentalizing when you watch the news versus allowing a constant feed of news (i.e. social media). This can recuperate an easy 15-30 minutes back into the day.
My Dad, for example, doesn’t have social media apps on his phone. If he wants to know about the news, he has to listen to the radio or turn on the television. Thus when he has break time at work he spends it reading his daily Bible plan via email or on his Bible app, versus scrolling to see what news has occurred in the last 20 minutes. This allows him to have focused time for focused activities.
Not having social media on your phone might not be possible for you. Many businesses, especially home-based businesses, depend on social media for survival. But this is just an example of how time can be compartmentalized and then salvaged. (And just to be transparent, I’m preaching to myself in this moment, not judging you, dear reader.)
You probably didn’t buy a 2021 Calendar Planner this year after throwing out last year’s. (Yes, I’m a bit bitter about that, too.) But you can still have a Bible reading plan to facilitate growth in your relationship with the Lord.
What’s your Bible reading plan for 2021?
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