When I was twelve, my parents taught me to read a chapter of Proverbs a day. Proverbs has thirty-one chapters, so the day of the month determined which chapter to read. (Some months, of course, have fewer than thirty-one days, and I just skipped those last chapters without guilt.)
After ten months of Proverbs, I finally—dare I say it?—got bored. So on a whim, I decided to read Hebrews. But then a Sunday school teacher told me Hebrews is a horribly difficult letter, and I would do better to begin with something easier, like Timothy.
I immediately stopped reading Hebrews. (I didn’t even look at it again until I was thirty.) But studying Paul’s two letters to Timothy was good. I read them three or four times.
And then, once again, I was stuck. What should I read next? My Proverbs / Hebrews / Timothy venture sparked a multi-year struggle to find a reading plan that could pass the test of time.
Those Weren’t My Only False Starts
Our bodies are fed by daily bread, and our souls are nourished by God’s Word. But like my many past diet failures, I couldn’t find a Bible plan that lasted more than a few months. I tried:
- Several One-Year Bible plans. I always bogged down in the middle of Isaiah or else missed a week and had to read twenty chapters of Leviticus to catch up. And I quit.
- Numerous daily study plans. Some were frankly stupid: “Read the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19. What was the name of the tax collector and what kind of tree did he climb?” (Seriously!) Excellent study plans do exist, but I found myself interacting with their authors more than with God’s voice. And I quit.
- Multiple church lectionaries. But most lectionaries fail to cover the entire Bible, and the pace of their readings conflicted with the pace of my prayer. I was often drawn to a few verses, wanting to reflect on them rather than move on. I always fell behind. And I quit.
I Never Told a Soul
My multiple misstarts, false starts, and restarts made me feel like a spiritual dweeb. I was sure that I alone—of all believers in the world—had failed to find a good Scripture plan. So I told no one.
Instead, I designed my own reading plan that incorporates lessons learned from my failures into an intentional time of prayerful reflection. And I love it. Even though I used my plan for years, once again, I never told a soul. Not even my wife!
I wasn’t reluctant to share it; I just assumed everyone else had a terrific plan that they loved. But over the last twelve months, I’ve discovered that scores of believers—virtually every one of my friends (including my wife)—share my struggles with finding a long-term plan that works.
What’s So Different about This Plan?
My various failures brought clarity. I wanted a plan designed to hear God in Scripture and that (a) allowed me to go at my own pace; (b) covered all of Scripture (eventually); (c) intermingled the Old Testament genres of story, poetry, and prophets; and (d) was designed to engage God through biblical meditation.
Each day’s reading fuses together passages from the Psalms, Old Testament, New Testament narratives, and New Testament letters. The Old Testament books are reshuffled so that Isaiah isn’t followed by a dozen more prophets.
You read at your own pace. Some days you may read a few verses from each section; other days, a whole chapter. If you miss a day (or a week), you pick up where you left off—no need to play catch-up. A typical day averages fifteen minutes of reading. But there is no typical day.
A Delightful Surprise
The plan provides a unique mixture of passages every day. This morning I read Psalm 142, Jeremiah 10:1–5, John 3:1–8, and 1 Peter 1:3–9. I’ll never read that mix of Scriptures again. The next time I read Jeremiah, I’ll probably read Luke not John, and the next time I read John, I’ll probably be reading Romans not Peter.
The interplay between passages provides a unique daily mixture of Scripture that I’ll never repeat. Today’s passages gave me a glimpse into a Psalmist’s depression, the futility (and stupidity) of our idols, the hope of being made new, and God’s promise of an unfading inheritance. Tomorrow’s readings will again be a new mixture and enriching surprise.
The plan also provides four different methods of biblical meditation. The length of time for meditation depends on you, but I find myself reflecting on the readings throughout the day. In fact, the majority of my blog articles spill over from those times of listening to God in his Word.
Try it yourself—I offer my plan for FREE
This past year I discovered I’m far from alone in my spiritual dweebness. So I’ve decided to share my plan with anyone looking to try a new Bible reading plan. It’s not so much a Bible study as it is a deliberate, daily approach to seeking God’s voice in Scripture.
And it’s free. I give the Scriptural Meditation Plan to anyone who subscribes to Beliefs of the Heart. Just subscribe (upper right corner or at the bottom of this article); it will bring you to the download page or you can follow the directions in the confirmation email.
If you already subscribe: I will send you a separate email with a link, so you needn’t resubscribe (though resubscribing brings you to the download page immediately).
I promise you this: You’ll never fall behind; I won’t ask you the name of Balaam’s donkey; and the book of Hebrews will no longer intimidate you. And I’m pretty sure you’ll love it as I do.