If you want to learn more about God, become more like Jesus, and hear His Holy Spirit speak to you more often, one of the best things you can do is read the Bible.
Sometimes when we’re reading God’s Word, it may feel like a shot of adrenaline, as we get a dramatic revelation or are filled with sudden life. Other times it will be more like taking a daily vitamin tablet, which does us good over the years without feeling immediately dramatic. However God wants to move in us, let’s believe that He will, and do all we can to make this happen.
We’ve created a plan for reading the Bible every day that can take you through the whole of the New Testament in a year, and the Old Testament over three years. This works out at two chapters per day, however you can take it at whatever pace you want, slower or faster; the vital thing is to be reading God’s Word regularly, a lifelong, life-giving habit.
Good habits happen by making a plan. Think about when in the day you could stop everything else and spend ten minutes or more with God and His Word, and try to keep this as an appointment. You might need help from people you live with to make this happen; you may have to come up with a different kind of rhythm if work patterns or other non-negotiable life factors mean you can’t select a fixed time.
When the time comes to read God’s word, first turn away from all other distractions and give God your full attention. Pray something like that He would open your eyes to see wonderful things in His Word (Psalm 119:18), and give you ears to hear what He is saying (Matthew 11:15).
Now, read carefully – just the text to start with, rather than any study tools printed in your Bible. If you have time, read through for a second time.
Follow this with thinking and praying. Ask questions to help with this:
If a certain truth about God, or a word or phrase or idea or person has grabbed your attention, stay on that. Explore what you’re thinking, savour what God is saying or showing you, speak with Him about it. The point isn’t to have understood and learnt everything possible but to have heard or seen something, and to have responded to God.
Reading the Bible by yourself is an excellent thing to do, but it’s even better to encourage and learn from others as you read through the same books together.
Small group meetings and messaging groups can be great places to do this, and a Running Partners group is perfect. You can use these contexts to give and receive help, to get clarity on what you think God has said or shown you, and keep each other going.
These are the kind of questions that can start good discussions:
Reading the Bible can be challenging. As well as our natural weaknesses, some things are too deep for us to truly comprehend (Psalm 139:6), some are difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16), and many trouble us because our thoughts are not aligned with God’s (Isaiah 55:8). Please don’t give up: all of us experience this and it can be at these times that we learn most effectively.
Here are some things you can do when this happens:
The more you read God’s Word, the more you will learn about Him, and the more you will see the big story and themes in it. This will help you to understand what’s happening in the daily passages you’re reading. It can only happen over time, so keep persevering.
We think that reading two chapters a day is a good pace for most people, most of the time. We’d suggest working through one book in the Old Testament and one book in the New at the same time.
All the books of the Bible are listed below, in an arrangement that is slightly different to what you will find in a Bible. The Old Testament is in three equal parts that are in roughly chronological order. For the New Testament, the four gospels are spread throughout the year, and each is followed by letters arranged in thematic groups (this idea comes from The Books of the Bible, published by Hodder & Stoughton).
By the way, although we’ve put the psalms in Part 2 of the Old Testament, they are such a great resource for worship and prayer that we’d recommend including them alongside whatever other books you’ve chosen, for example at the weekends.
Remember, you can get free resources to introduce each book of the Bible here.
The story begins with creation, then humanity’s fall into sin, God choosing a family to be His miraculous people of hope for the world, and that family becoming a kingdom, Israel.
Israel’s successes under Kings David and Solomon are eclipsed by sin, division and eventual exile from the land as punishment. This part also includes the wisdom literature produced by God’s people, and the prophets who spoke during this time.
Song of Solomon
The story of the kingdom is reiterated and we find out what happened during the exile and how God brought His people back into the promised land. Along with these narratives, there are prophetic books from this era too.
400 years after the last events of the Old Testament, Jesus comes to earth to fulfil all of God’s plans. Following His death, resurrection and ascension, the church is born. Finally, the Revelation shows us how what began in Genesis 1 will come to an end, and God’s eternal purposes will be realised.