How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(Psalm 119, ESV)
The past few years i have stuck to a particular plan in reading the Bible which i have found to be very helpful. i know that unless i have a plan by which i may measure progress, and in which others can join me, i am likely to neglect my reading of the Bible, and will stagnate to the jeopardy of my life and joy. i still battle, often, to read each day; but i find that my own progress and joy in the faith are inextricably bound up in prayerful reading of the Bible. i want, like Job, to “treasure the words of His mouth more than my portion of food” (Job 23). The missionary George Mueller (1805-1898) once said, “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it…”
The reading plan i have found most helpful is one by the Scottish pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843). The plan he devised takes me each year through the Old Testament and twice through the New Testament and Psalms. This generally involves a very manageable four chapters (sometimes a little more or less) a day. i recommend using the website/mobile phone app from Youversion.com to track your progress through the plan (but preferably do the actual reading in your regular Bible, which will aid your concentration, comprehension, and retention). If you prefer, you can print calendars or bookmarks for the plan (or subscribe to email or RSS feeds). One of the benefits of using Youversion is that you can enlist friends to follow your progress, and you can encourage them in theirs.
To help in following the M’Cheyne plan, Don Carson has produced two excellent volumes of daily devotional reflections, titled For the Love of God. The daily readings are available to read online (you can also subscribe by email or RSS). Additionally, Crossway, the publishers, have allowed the books to be downloaded for free: volume 1 and volume 2 (HT: Andy Naselli).
Aside from Don Carson’s wise, pastoral daily reflections mentioned above, Gordon Fee’s talks on reading and studying the Bible for life are very helpful in explaining how to approach the Bible.
Whenever possible, i like to read the Bible out loud: this aids concentration, comprehension, and retention. i also try to read a little background at the start of each Bible book in order to read it with better understanding. For this, Gordon Fee’s book Reading the Bible Book by Book, or a good study Bible, is a tremendously valuable resource — this and his Reading the Bible for All its Worth are two of the books i most frequently recommend to friends.
… Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart …
(Jeremiah 15, ESV)