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.