“Whenever you read the Gospel, Christ Himself is speaking to you. And while you read; you are praying and talking to Him.” Saint Tikhon
The new Church year just began a few days ago on September 1st so it’s the perfect time for all of us to make a plan for reading the Bible this year. I found three Orthodox sources to help us. These plans are great for anyone to use whether you are reading alone or with a small group. Here they are, in order from the simplest to the most challenging:
- This could be a good year for us to simply commit to praying daily and reading the Bible verses in the Lectionary for each day. Here is an easily downloadable app for that: https://www.goarch.org/-/daily-reading-app
- Here is a plan for reading the whole Bible in one year. I love it because it’s visually simple and has a box to check off after you read each day so you can keep track of your progress. It includes readings from the Old Testament and the New Testament most days. The readings should take about 15 minutes each day: https://www.goarch.org/documents/32058/3309971/osb-in-one-year.pdf/70dfbc1d-4afc-4b1a-87ff-dc60016cc9f3
- This site has more resources to help inspire us to read Scripture. The plan itself includes daily readings from The Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and the New Testament. Psalms and Proverbs are repeated- you’ll read them twice in one year. This plan also has a clear, attractive format, boxes to check off, and has dates already written on it– starting with September 1st. It claims to take 15-20 minutes of reading each day, but I’d allow a little more time: https://saintandrew.net/biblereadingproject.html
Reading Scripture is like praying, it’s a way for us to communicate with God and for HIm to communicate with us. As we immerse ourselves in God’s word each day, the beautiful message of Scripture enters our hearts and inspires us throughout the day.
You might think we get enough Scripture by faithfully attending Liturgy, but our homes should be “little churches” which are also infused with God’s words. Besides, reading at home helps us internalize our faith and reinforces what we hear chanted in our churches.
Last year my husband Mark and I were astonished and shocked to discover one of our teenage sons didn’t know the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den. Our boys attend Matins and Liturgy faithfully and have gone to Christian schools where they took Bible classes and yet, there were gaping holes in what they knew about the Bible and basic Christianity. We realized we only had a short time to do something about this, so we decided to read the New Testament with them in one year.
Mark downloaded a plan which covered the entire New Testament by reading one chapter a day for only five days each week. Most weekday mornings, our family gathers to read our chapter silently together. After reading, each of us writes down one verse that “speaks” to us. We each have a journal for our own verses. After everyone has finished, we discuss the chapter and share our verses. We rely on the footnotes in our Orthodox Study Bibles and other resources to help us keep an Orthodox understanding of our readings. At the end of each week, we each write down one of our verses on a post-it note and stick it somewhere visible, usually the bathroom mirror, so we can memorize that verse.
This has been a valuable way for us to spend about 20-30 minutes together each morning. It’s not always convenient, but it’s worth a little less sleep or to need to switch around schedules a little in order to have the gift of sharing the Bible together as a family five days a week. We have just started reading Revelation and will complete our year-long plan in a few weeks.
At first, our boys didn’t share much about what they were reading in the Bible. Then they went through a phase where they seemed to be trying to parrot us or please us, but as the year has progressed, our sons have increasingly opened up and are starting to grow in the things they share. The same will happen with you, even if you are reading alone. As you read, the Scripture will enter your heart, the words will flow through your day, and these precious words of God will be woven into your life.
It’s only 15-20 minutes a day. Are you up for it? Talk to your priest and decide which plan is the best for you.
Other sources for further inspiration: