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Daily Bible Reading

In a perfect world, I would use a resource like the Daily Office Lectionary to guide my daily Scripture readings. This resource provides for three readings per day, one each from the Old Testament, Epistles, and Gospels, plus Psalms. It is keyed to the liturgical year, which means I would be reading passages with an Advent theme during Advent, a Christmas theme during Christmastide, etc.

This is one I really, really wish would work for me, but it doesn’t. First, it’s difficult for me to flip back and forth in a Bible among the various readings. Bookmarks would help, but I tend to lose them. Second, as much as I like the idea, I’m really more of a lectio continua guy when it comes to my private devotions. Please, give me readings appropriate to the liturgical season in my Sunday worship, but with few exceptions, I prefer to read whole Bible books, chapter by chapter, for my daily devotions.

A step in the right direction would be something like the Table and Kalendar in the earliest Anglican prayer books, such as this one from the 1559 Book of Common Prayer. I could be mistaken, but I believe this schedule of readings and observances was also included in the original 1611 King James Version of the Bible. At least, I lost the link to some facsimiles of the Table and Kalendar pages from the 1611 KJV, and this looks awfully similar. This setup presupposes two services per day where the Bible is read: a morning service where a chapter is read each from the Old Testament and the Gospels, and an evening service with Old Testament and Epistle readings.

This indulges my preference for continuous, chapter-by-chapter reading, but it doesn’t really help in terms of the amount of page-flipping involved. You still need four bookmarks‚Äîand sufficient time in both the morning and the evening to make a go of it.

I have found that it works best for me to consolidate all my Bible reading into one of my thrice-daily “offices.” And the time that seems to work best is mid-day. I can easily take a few extra minutes during my lunch break to open a Bible and read two or three chapters. But what shall I read?

If you’re paying attention, you know that I’m looking for something ridiculously easy. And you know that I’m willing to do a lot of hard work and study to make it ridiculously easy in implementation!

So here is what I’m going to try to do (and I’ll share my homework with you later if you like.)

  • I’m going to read from only one Bible book per day
  • I’m going to alternate between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are for the Old Testament (the Sabbath plus the two traditional days for midweek synagogue services, plus Tuesdays because, let’s face it, there’s just way too much Old Testament to cover in three days a week!). Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are for the New Testament (the Lord’s Day plus the two traditional fast days of the church).
  • I’ve devised a schedule that will have me reading through most of the Old Testament in two years. (Some of the genealogies as well as many of the ritual details in Exodus and Leviticus are excluded.) I will be able to finish the entire New Testament every year. This usually works out to two chapters per day. Sometimes especially long chapters will stand alone; sometimes three short chapters are joined together.
  • I will allow myself to diverge from the plan on especially important feast and fast days such as Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, etc. On those days, I will make the effort to read appropriate selections based on what is suggested in the Table and Kalendar

We’ll see how this goes.

Update: I still think it’s a good idea to read the Bible according to some kind of plan (as long as you don’t get legalistic about it). At the same time, check out Dan Edelen’s World’s Best Bible-reading Program. Fact is, there are lots of reasons to read the Bible and lots of methods to use. I’d listen to what Dan has to say.

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9 Comments

  1. Craig says:

    Sounds like a good plan. I’d love to see your schedule if you find it workable and, well, easy. 🙂

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  2. D. P. says:

    I’ve sent you a copy! Any constructive criticism is deeply appreciated.

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  3. S Meier says:

    Hey D.P.
    you sound a sincere and busy person —
    that’s how I see myself as well. Husband of one wife — my first, and Father of 3 kids – and Pastor (currently associate, soon to be senior) –
    I struggle with the time and choices —

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  4. S Meier says:

    interrupted by life — but I have used a Bible that is broken into to daily readings – OT, Psalm and NT for each day – but it is often hard to keep up with the several chapters each –
    so I am also interested in your reading plan – which I assume would be flexible enough if circumstances precluded reading one day — then you could just pick up the next.

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  5. D. P. says:

    I’m trying to get the plan in a form suitable for public consumption (I’ve already found a couple of typos in the DOC I sent to Craig!). Check back in a bit and I may be able to accommodate you.

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  6. DLE says:

    D.P.,

    Thanks for the link back to my post on Bible reading at Cerulean Sanctum. I pray it blesses your readers.

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  7. Craig says:

    I’ve been comparing your Bible Reading Plan with a copy of your Prayer Book that used to be posted on your old Web site. I like your new Reading Plan to help me with time management because I find the reading assignments more agreeable with the short time frames I normally have (about 15-20 minutes early morning or held an hour at lunch). And like you mentioned, I too find it hard to have prayer times at morning, noon and night.

    However, I’d be great to be able to consolidate the Observances of Feast/Fast Days and Saints in the Prayer Book with the Bible Reading Plan. I’d still like to be able to reflect on the Saints and Feast/Fast days as well.

    Craig

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  8. Craig says:

    “held an hour at lunch”

    Ooops – this should read “half an hour at lunch”

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  9. D. P. says:

    That’s a good thought, Craig. I’m thinking of putting together a “supplement” with special readings for key commemorations of the liturgical year (Christmas, Easter, etc., feast days of the most important/recognized saints, etc.) Even with the KJV Table and Kalendar, there are a lot of saints’ days where one doesn’t diverge from the basic Bible reading plan.

    Another possibility is to put the reading plan, the sanctoral calendar, and a bare-bones “order” for morning, midday, and noon prayer all in one source, maybe even look into getting it published.

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