Many people would like to read the Bible but are not sure where to begin. A planned schedule of one to three years is a good option, as it provides a daily itinerary through the Holy Scriptures. It also provides motivation and discipline.
I once attempted a one-year plan and duly checked off all the boxes – after several years. I’ve concluded that the one-year Bible reading plan is not ideal, perhaps even detrimental. A two-year plan, on the other hand, has three benefits:
1) It’s Easier Digestion. Reading several chapters of Jeremiah then a chapter of Maccabees then two chapters of a Gospel can be heavy chewing for one day. It’s like working through a five-pound steak in forty minutes. The words of Scripture are soul nourishing in small bites but oppressive in big mouthfuls because, the earthly habitation presseth down the mind that museth upon many things. (Wisdom 9:15)
2) The Mind Retains More. The mind can only retain so much information in one day. Useful knowledge that truly makes a difference in one’s life usually comes in small amounts. Perhaps you have heard a long sermon where the preacher went in several directions instead of having a single point. Did you remember anything five minutes later? Information overload is useless.
3) A Relaxed Pace Brings Delight. When we feel pressure to get through 4-5 chapters of Scripture in one day, the effect is often strain on the soul. It’s very easy to pass over significant passages simply because we have to press to the finish line. This is not beneficial. When high school or college students cram reading material, for instance, the outcome is often stress. Whereas, a relaxed pace and reduced portion make for a more meaningful experience in learning. Moreover, enjoyment in learning makes the material sink deep into the soul.
Slow Reading Produces Soulfulness
The monks and nuns of former times found the key to soulfulness in the art of lectio divina. They slowly distilled the words of Scripture into their souls and thereby gained all of its nutrients.
I often see the deer lying in the field after spending hours grazing. Like cows, deer have a four-part stomach. The food goes first to the rumen for storage and fermentation; when the animals are relaxed, they regurgitate the food and chew the cud. The word ruminate derives from this process.
Similarly, for humans, the sacred words of Scripture become much more personal and meaningful when ruminated. By letting the words ferment in the depths of our soul, one brings forth the sweet wine of soulfulness, which is the first step to godliness.
A Two-Year Plan
With all of this in mind and yet with an understanding of how beneficial a reading plan may be to keep motivated, I offer you a two-year reading plan which includes the Deuterocanonical books. It gives a more reasonable amount to read each day, generally a chapter or two of the Old Testament and a small selection from the New Testament, sometimes only a couple verses. If you wish to make use of this plan, you may find it here.