December 26: The “260” Plan for Reading the Bible

“Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul…It is not he that reads most , but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.”

 

The daily reading of the Bible should be the regular, consistent practice of every Christian. The Bible is the very Word of God to His children and it is essential for our growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ our Savior.

We know this, and yet the reading of the Bible seems to be a great difficulty for many Christians. Various plans have been developed over the years to accomplish an annual reading through the whole Bible. Robert Murray McCheyne’s plan is perhaps the most famous of these, though there are many others. For years now here at This Day in Presbyterian History we have had links to McCheyne’s plan and others posted on a page of this blog (see “Reading Plans” in the masthead).

But too often it proves difficult to stick with these plans. For one, you have to keep track of the reading guide itself. A printed guide tends to get lost somewhere around the time we’re moving into Exodus and Mark in our reading and so we never get beyond Genesis and Matthew. Web-based reading plans eliminate that excuse of course, until a computer isn’t available.

But the bigger problem is that our reading can become perfunctory—something we labor to check off our daily “To Do” list. That seems to be what really kills our heart to keep after a regular reading through the Bible. We’ve moved from reading because we want to, over to reading because we have to.

As you look ahead to 2017 and consider again how you will approach your reading of the Bible, I’d like to suggest a different way to go about it : 

(1) The 260 Plan — Rather than have a plan guide that you have to consult every day to keep your place, this approach takes advantage of the fact that there are 260 chapters in the New Testament and that there are 260 weekdays in a year. So under this plan, you simply read one chapter of the New Testament each day of the year.

You might bolster this reading by following the instruction of Deuteronomy 11:19 : “when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” In other words, read the day’s chapter when you rise in the morning, when you sit down for a meals, and at the end of the day before bedtime. This way, the repeated exposure to the same content throughout the day gets us closer to the goal expressed by Thomas Brooks, when he said:

“Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul…It is not he that reads most , but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.”

That’s my hope, that with a smaller chunk of reading—a single chapter per weekday—that we will take more time to think about what we’re reading, meditating on those “holy and heavenly truths.”

Then, to complete your reading of the entire Bible, on the weekends read 8 or 9 chapters from the Old Testament on Saturdays and Sundays. You will typically have more time available for reading on the weekends, and it doesn’t take all that long to read that amount.

The only other suggestion that I would have would be to discipline yourself to start your day in the Word of God and in prayer. Do it before the other duties of the day intrude. Your email will wait thirty minutes; it simply isn’t that urgent. What is urgent is that you draw near to the Lord.

Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee. – Psalm 119:11

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. – Psalm 119:97

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