Why I’m Not Using a Reading Plan in 2012

I know that this week and next tend to be the ones where people make resolutions and goals for the year—and a typical New Years’ resolutions for Christians is to read their Bible in its entirety within the year. This is a good goal and if you’ve never read your Bible in its entirety, you absolutely need to at least once.

I read through the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation back in 2009, reading a few chapters a day until I was done. It was a tremendous experience—it helped me get a really good sense of the big story of Scripture, to see how every book fits together. I tried to do it again last year, but stalled out about halfway through the Psalms (although I still ended up reading about two-thirds of the Scriptures through the year regardless).

Sooooo if it was so great an experience the first time, why did it fall flat the next? What happened?

For me, the problem was that I wasn’t spending enough time soaking in the Word. With a strict schedule of 4+ chapters a day, I found there was very little time to stop and savor. Much of the time was spent consuming. This is not the way that I prefer to read my Bible. That’s one of the reasons that I loved the Partnering to Remember challenge that Tim Brister put together last year. Memorizing Philippians (most of which I’ve still got a solid hold on) was one of the few times in 2011 where I felt like I felt like I was really enjoying the Word in the way that I’m talking about.

So this year, I’ve decided to spend the bulk of my personal reading just enjoying a few books—mastering them and being mastered by them, as it were. What that means is I’m not going to be keeping track of how many chapters I’m reading or how many books of the Bible I get through this year. I want to do my best to really understand what I’m reading and to enjoy it. I might even try to to memorize some more.

The first book on my list? Ecclesiastes.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

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  • Ben Thorp

    I’m also not using a reading plan this year. I did attempt Bible in a year again in 2009, but moving house and a few other personal circumstances meant I lost it around October, which was a shame.
    This year, however, I’m involved in developing and implementing a new teaching strategy in our church, and so parts of my reading during the year will be very focused on this (ie we’re doing 12 weeks on Ephesians in February/March/April, so at the moment I’m reading it through once a week). I’m also following Bible reading notes. 
    I think next year I may try one of the Bible-in-a-year plans that’s a little less chronological, but more thematic.

  • http://philippians314.squarespace.com/ Kim Shay

    I’m reading chronologically through the bible as well as studying John.  I’m teaching John this year until the end of May, so I get a soak and a survey, which I like.  Also attending a ladies bible study doing Deuteronomy.  In Sept, I’ll start a new book, possibly Isaiah.  It means I don’t read as many other books, because as the one who takes care of the house and meals and details of everyone, my time is limited, but I have found that reading through the bible on a regular basis helps my teaching.

  • http://www.facebook.com/i.am.nateclaiborne Nate Claiborne

    I think you’ve got good reasons to avoid a plan. I’ve found I need a plan to stay consistent, and I enjoy saturation. But I totally get the need to just soak shorter passages and be mastered by books of Scripture.

    I’m trying to create room in my schedule for both a variation on Prof Horner’s plan and extended meditation on a single book (first up 1st John). I guess we’ll see how that goes.

    • http://twitter.com/peterwalters64 Peter Walters

      Nate I like Prof Horner’s plan too!!

      • Ben Thorp

        Hmmmm. Now I’m thinking I might just take up the Prof Horner challenge after all….

  • http://twitter.com/peterwalters64 Peter Walters


    Thanks for the post.  I like to ready through my bible every year or so and have gone through almost every plan there is, Chronological, in 90 Days, you name it.  I have also spent over a year just reading the Psalms and when I was young I read a Proverb a day.  For the past year I have been using Professor Horner’s Bible Reading Plan which covers a lot of Scripture but has really put things together for me.  I think variety is the key, so enjoy the slower pace, we all need to slow down and take time to smell the roses.  

  • http://www.craighurst.wordpress.com/ Craig Hurst

    Aaron I am with you on this. I haven’t used a Bible reading plan since high school and I don’t know when I will again. I like to read a few chapters a day slowly and then think about them for a day or two.

  • Kevin Subra

    I understand your post. I’m not sure one has to choose between soaking and soaring. Each has a different reason. Reading through the Bible yearly gives you a comprehensive “big picture” view of God and His work as viewed through the entire Bible. One cannot possibly study everything deeply in one’s life, and yet each part of the Bible is profitable (2 Tim 3:16-17).

    I would suggest doing *both.* We need the overview, the big picture, AND we need to ponder things deeply.

    Reading through the Word completely on a regular basis (as opposed to “at least once”) gives one the proper perspective as he/she reads / studies particular books / passages in depth. Even one chapter a day takes a person through the Word in less than 4 years (though I would suggest that going through each year is a pace that helps you get a better overview than going through in 4 years).

    God gave the entire Word for our benefit. Use the entire Word. Read completely and study deeply.

  • http://sightregained.com Louis Tullo

    That sounds great Aaron! :) I wrestle with reading plans too. I like structure and order, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to take your own control over reading the Bible rather than being stuck in a plan.

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree. I think the reading plans helped me developed a discipline of daily reading but reading with the purpose you write about here made my time in the Scripture much richer. Last year I began to include others in my reading as well. I read through several books of the Bible with friends and 

  • Emily Armstrong

    I’m going to stick to my regular “breakfast with children” plan – reading as much of a part of scripture as I can (currently the Proverbs) until the kids need bowls refilled/ faces wiped/ etc.

  • Matt

    Thanks for sharing your plans (for not using a plan) this year.  It’s encouraging, and a good reminder, that there is no one way to read God’s Word.

    I think God calls us to walk with Him in different ways at different times in our lives.  I’m young and married but with no kids, and right now I feel the urge to grow in my grasp of the breadth of Scripture.  I am sure that as life stages and schedules vary my reading plans will vary as well, but for now, I am going with Prof. Horner’s plan and asking God to show me the breadth of His Word this year.

  • http://twitter.com/domwth Becky Pliego

    I am using the same plan I used last year (http://www.matthewweathers.com/year2006/bible_reading_record.htm). I love to have flexibility, and at the same time a frame. For me it is important to read all the Bible but also memorize and mediate on it (Some friends of mine- over at The Doctrines in the Kitchen Facebook page and I, will start with Titus in February). That is why, for me at least, reading through the Professor Horner’s Plan doesn’t seem something appealing.

    I love these words of yours: “I’ve decided to spend the bulk of my personal reading just enjoying a few booksmastering them and being mastered by them” Yes, yes, yes!

    May we all grow in the Lord as we take time to read reverently His Word, and as we find our delight in it.


  • Heart Afire

    Hi,  I came here from Homileo, and was worried when I saw your topic, since my husband and I just embarked on a one-year Bible reading course.  How glad I am to find that your first experience of doing so, was edifying.  I can understand your reservations, just because I see that reading it in really big chunks has limitations.  It is sometimes hard to “soak in.”  We had just wanted to do it, because there are undoubtedly things in the Bible we have never read, and also because in our 18 years of marriage, we’ve never really stuck with a Bible study plan together, and have found online a wonderful resource for this.  We just read it while fixing breakfast in the morning.  Sometimes we discuss, sometimes we just read.
    Glad to find your blog through Gary’s wonderful blog!

  • Heart Afire

    Also, wanted to say, I appreciate your turn of phrase, about being “mastered” by scripture.  We so often talk of “mastering” a particular topic, I just loved how you put that!