Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | January 3, 2014

Bible Reading: Impulse or Plan?

For my 8th birthday, my parents gave me a blue hardcover Bible. Over the years I have often remembered these words which my father inscribed inside the front cover:

“Endeavor to read a portion of God’s Word daily. As the Psalmist says, God’s Word will be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. (Psalm 119:105). Remember, this Book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book.”

Bible Inscription

My gift Bible was a Pilgrim edition of the King James Version published by Oxford University Press in 1952. The accompanying Pilgrim Study Notes were prepared over 10 years by more than 30 Bible scholars led by Editor-in-chief E. Schuyler English.

This Bible served me well until I entered college, at which point I switched to the New American Standard Bible (NASB). I chose this version because it was the most accurate modern translation available.

The Book of Genesis

As the new year 2014 begins, it’s time to plan this year’s Bible reading to follow my father’s advice, “Endeavor to read a portion of God’s Word daily.”

A great variety of Bible reading plans are available. They include
– reading straight through
– reading in the chronological order the events occurred
– reading in the historical order in which the books were written
– alternating Old and New Testament selections
– morning and evening readings
– topical or devotional arrangements
– biographical
– survey
and many others.

Man reads Bible on phone

Man reads Bible on phone. (You can read anywhere.)

One can read straight through the entire Bible in a year by reading an average of 3 1/3 chapters per day. Or one can read less daily and spread it over 2 years. Or one can read the 260 chapters of the New Testament in a year by reading merely 5 chapters per week.

Reading through the Bible in a year is easy. Even if you read aloud, which is slower than silent reading, you can do it in 12 minutes a day. (The audio NASB narrated by E. W. “Red” Jeffries lasts 72 Hours, 48 Minutes.)

You can read anywhere. Apps for your phone, iPod, iPad, or tablet will send you a reminder and open to the right spot for that day. Daily readings can be emailed to you. YouVersion will read it to you out loud from ESV, KJV, or eight other versions, keeping up with where you are automatically, all for free.

Bible Reading Plans (BRPs)

Here are some of the many organizations that offer free Bible Reading Plans (BRPs):

  1. Blue Letter Bible offers 6 reading plans.
  2. Ligonier Ministries offers 14 reading plans.
  3. BibleStudyTools offers 17 reading plans.
  4. BibleGateway offers 18 reading plans. Fourteen are in the drop-down list and 4 are on the More reading plans page.
  5. YouVersion has over 600 reading plans in many languages and Bible versions. Readings can be emailed or they have free smart phone and tablet apps where one can read and track progress on mobile devices.
  6. ReadingPlan app for iPhone/iPad by James Price. This free app has 6 default plans: 2009 Thematic, Chronological, Straight Through, M’Cheyne (read NT & Psalms twice, OT once), Book at a Time (daily readings from 2 books that are read straight through), Book by Book (read a book a day to read Bible in 66 days). 69 additional reading plans are available for free download into the app. Search for “ReadingPlan” in the App Store to locate the app.
Refresh your day with Scripture and OJ!

Refresh your day
with Scripture and OJ!

Here are a variety of specific Bible Reading Plans that I recommend:

  1. Straight Through Plan (1 year)
    Read straight through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
  2. Chronological Plan (1 year)
    Read the Bible in the order the events happened.
  3. Historical Plan (1 year)
    Old Testament readings are according to the Hebrew Bible (Law, Prophets, Writings). New Testament readings attempt to follow the order in which the books were authored.
  4. Genre Plan (1 year)
    Read a different genre each day of the week: Sunday-Epistles, Monday-Law, Tuesday-History, Wednesday-Psalms, Thursday-Poetry, Friday-Prophecy, Saturday-Gospels.
  5. Thematic Plan (1 year)
    This Bible reading plan is thematic or connective in nature. The goal is to make as many connections as possible between different passages of Scripture while still reading individual books of the Bible from start to finish. Only the Psalms are not read in consecutive order. The Psalms are individually apportioned throughout the year to increase the number of connections that can be observed and appreciated.
    The Thematic Plans are prepared by Craig DesJardins of Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Tacoma, Washington. Each year’s plan is different. The one linked above on the BibleStudyTools site is for 2013. Here are links to PDF versions that can be printed for the 2013 & 2014 BRPs.
    2013 Thematic BRP Calendar
    2013 Thematic BRP single sheet dated
    2013 Thematic BRP single sheet numbered
    2014 Thematic BRP Calendar
    2014 Thematic BRP single sheet numbered
    The Price ReadingPlan app for iPhone/iPad (see above) has the DesJardins Thematic Plans for 2009-2014.
  6. Ninety-Day Challenge Plan (90 days)
    Read the Bible straight through in 3 months. This is a challenge, for one needs to average reading a little more than 13 chapters (48 minutes to read aloud) per day.
  7. Biographical Plan (121 Days)
    Read about all the major Bible characters from Adam to Zechariah and Joseph to Philemon to get an overview of Who’s Who in the Old and New Testaments.
  8. Survey the Bible Plan (61 Days)
    Read highlights from every book of the Bible to get a brief overview in 2 months!
  9. Chronological Survey Plan (61 Days)
    Read through the key accounts of the Bible in chronological order, tracing the development of God’s plan from Adam and Eve to the Church in the New Testament. This reading plan introduces the major people and events of the Bible in chronological order, beginning with Creation, moving through the history of Israel, the life of Christ, the Epistles, and ending with the restoration of all things at the end of Revelation. It’s presented in 61 easy readings.
  10. Christmas Plan (25 days)
    25 New Testament readings with related Old Testament passages highlight the birth of Jesus and His purpose in coming.
  11. Gospels Plan (45 days)
    Read the record of the life of Christ in the four Gospels.
  12. Chronological NT Plan (3 months)
    Read the New Testament in the order the events happened.
Bible Reading Plan-Listen and meditate anywhere

Bible Reading Plan
Listen and meditate anywhere

This year my wife and I have started the Chronological Bible Reading Plan (Plan #2 above) from Blue Letter Bible. We mostly use a YouVersion app to do our daily readings.

It’s a good idea to team up with a partner like your spouse or a friend. The accountability helps you stay on track with your Bible reading plan.

Next year I plan to try either the Genre Plan (#4) or the Thematic Plan (#5). In December I plan to do the Christmas Plan (#10) with the family. We camp a lot in the spring and fall, so this year I plan to do the Chronological Survey Plan (#9) around the campfire with the family.

Impulse or Plan?

Do you play it by ear as to whether you watch the Super Bowl or the World Series or election returns, or do you make specific plans? If you’re a passionate fan of a certain author, do you leave it to a whim as to whether or not you’ll read his next book?

Do you intend to eat tomorrow? Do you have some food in your frig or pantry, or do you prefer to completely wing it? Do you say, “If I decide to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner tomorrow, I can just go to the store and look around”?

Jogger listens to Bible

Exerciser listens to Bible

Just as we make definite plans to accomplish what is important to us, so we should make a definite plan to regularly read and meditate on God’s Word. Scripture portrays the blessed and prosperous man as one who does this:
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)

Choose a time of day to regularly follow your selected Bible reading plan. Many people like to do their Bible reading first thing in the morning. Others do it while commuting or at lunch. Some listen while exercising. I like to do my Bible reading at night.

The important thing is to read the Bible. Pick a plan that interests you, a time that works for you, and stick with it. It really doesn’t matter which plan or what time — any plan is better than no plan.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Friday January 3, 2014 A.D.

Thy Word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)



  1. “Do you say, “If I decide to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner tomorrow, I can just go to the store and look around”?” Love it!
    I got my childhood Bible for my 7th birthday and didn’t give it up until just before my marriage (it’s still on my shelf, just Revelation is threatening to come unglued). It was the best Sword Drill Bible ever and had no notes of any kind, which is why I have some non-standard-American ideas about the Bible to this day.
    We are so blessed with tools and plans to help us grow in Christ. May we not let our own fleshly desires or the Enemy sidetrack us from our privilege as God’s children.


    • Yes, mine was a great Sword Drill Bible too; however, I think success was due more to the knowledge and competitiveness of the user than to the actual Bible. My wife also had a good Sword Drill Bible, although I didn’t know her at the time. She was banned from Sword Drills because no one could beat her.

      The Pilgrim notes were a mixed blessing. For example, even as a child I remember doubting the note on Behemoth for Job 40:15 (“This is said to be the hippopotamus”) and the one on Leviathan for Job 41:1 (“Said to be the crocodile”). The Biblical descriptions of Behemoth and Leviathan in Job, even to me as a young child, did not sound anything like a hippopotamus or crocodile.

      On the other hand, the notes were helpful with archaic King James language. For example, describing Leviathan, Job 41:18 in KJV says, “By his neesings a light doth shine.” The note said “neesings” were “sneezes,” which cleared up that verse. Verses 18-21 clearly describe a fire-breathing dragon/dinosaur.

      So sometimes the notes were helpful and sometimes not. You have to eat the meat and spit out the bones, which principle is true of any commentary on Scripture.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.


  2. Impulse is no good. (Ask me how I know 🙂 )

    I had the best results by using a One Year Devotional Bible (Max Lucado I think) because it had the dates, and if I missed a day it was a matter of backing up a page or two. In other words, easy.

    But the thematic plan you’ve highlighted looks interesting to me, so I might try that!


    • Some of the other plans I listed have dates. Other plans don’t because they want you to start at any time you can, not just on Jan 1. The online YouVersion plans have dates for whenever you start.

      Please do try the Thematic Plan, and after a while add a comment on how you like it. I find it very interesting too and would be interested to know what you think of it after trying it for a while.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a blessed Bible-reading year!


  3. I did a search and found the DesJardins 2014 thematic plan set up in PDF version that I can print out and tuck in my Bible. Thought I’d let you know, if it’s helpful to others. In my experience, if I open my laptop, email or phone before my Bible, I’m sunk. (at fairlyspiritual dot org) Thanks again for just the push I needed.


    • Thank you very much for this info. I have added links in the article to PDF versions of the 2013 and 2014 DesJardins Thematic Bible Reading Plans to facilitate printing copies. I have also added information on the Price ReadingPlan iPhone/iPad app which has 75 reading plans including the DesJardins Thematic BRPs for 2009-2014.


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  6. I got my first Bible when I was 8, too. By the way, do you happen to know of a Revelation-to-Genesis Bible reading plan somewhere? I feel inspired to read the Bible backwards. (Maybe I’m going crazy.)


    • Thanks for reading and commenting.

      What do you mean by “reading the Bible backwards”? This could mean several things; for example, reading the Bible in reverse order book by book (Revelation, Jude, 3 John, etc.), or reading in reverse order chapter by chapter (Rev 22, Rev 21, etc.), or in reverse order verse by verse, or in reverse order word by word.

      I don’t know of any such plan, but you could take any one of the complete Bible reading plans and do it day by day in reverse order. However, I don’t think such an effort will be beneficial. Apparently nobody else does either since none of the major Bible reading sites have such a plan.

      Liked by 1 person

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