Looking to get serious about reading your Bible? For the last 19 months, I’ve been using the Grant Horner Bible Reading plan. Like many of you, I’ve tried my hand at plan after plan after plan, but this is the one that has stuck. And by stuck, I mean really stuck. I love it. I genuinely look forward to it unlike any other plan I’ve ever tried. I miss fulfilling the habit it’s nurtured on unexpectedly hectic mornings. Unless something else comes along that really knocks my socks off, this will be my personal Bible reading plan for the rest of my life. So here’s my challenge for you to give it a shot.
The plan asks you to read one chapter a day from ten different sections of the Bible:
- List 1 – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (89 days)
- List 2 – Genesis-Deuteronomy (187 days)
- List 3 – Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Hebrews (78 days)
- List 4 – 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, Revelation (65 days)
- List 5 – Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (62 days)
- List 6 – Psalms (150 days)
- List 7 – Proverbs (31 days)
- List 8 – Joshua-Esther (249 days)
- List 9 – Isaiah-Malachi (250 days)
- List 10 – Acts (28 days)
On Day 1, for example, you would read the first chapter in each list. Day 2 calls for the next chapter in each list, and so on. When you get to the end of any list, you simply start over within the parameters of that list. Since each list varies in length, the program is constantly evolving and interweaving in fresh ways. Horner writes:
You will NEVER read the same set of ten chapters together again! Every year you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters four to five times each, the OT wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the OT History and Prophetic books about one-and-a-half times. Since the interweaving is constantly changing, you will experience the Bible commenting on itself in constantly changing ways.
After just a few days the reading gets much easier; in a month it will be a habit, and in six months you’ll wonder how you ever survived before on such a slim diet of the Word. And then—you’ll tell others to start the system!
I’ll be the first to confess I was intrigued-and-not-a-little-intimated when I first heard about the scope of the plan, but it has literally made my devotional time with God’s Word explode for the better. Nineteen months in, I read first thing in the morning and typically complete the day’s reading in 45-50 minutes. If I miss a day, the plan is built to be extremely “forgiving.” I just pick up where I last left off.
Another concern I had was losing an appreciation of the immediate context within each list, but I’ve since discovered two things. Not only am I able to retain (what I believe is) a grasp of the “local” context from day-to-day, but my appreciation for the overall context of God’s revelation has grown exponentially. Because I experience 10 different “touch points” with the Bible every day, nearly every sitting unveils some profound connection between the Old and New Testaments, the Law of Moses and Paul, or the Prophets and the Gospels. Horner puts it this way:
The very best effect it has is rapid, broad-scale contextualizing across both testaments and all the different biblical genres. Did you know about all the similarities between Ecclesiastes and 2 Corinthians? How about the relationship between Deuteronomy and Matthew? It is like no other system that way, and it provides constant variety as well as consistent conviction.
Different plans fit different people, but if you’re looking for a devotional jump-start, this plan has changed my life for the better. Horner’s original explanatory PDF is available here. Here are some colorful bookmarks to help you keep your place (courtesy of Nathan Bingham).
If you’d rather go paperless, I use the Wordmark app on my iPhone.
What about you? Have you tried the Grant Horner system? If so, what’s been your experience? Are you using a different plan altogether? What’s currently working for you?
Whatever the tool, don’t neglect to feed yourself on what matters most.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matt 4:4)