Studying the Bible in 2020

In my last post I mentioned that I’d made some plans for studying the Bible this year, so today I thought I will share that with you.

For the past 5ish years, I’ve made it a goal to read through the whole Bible in a year. I successfully did so in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. I used several different reading plans during this time.

In 2019, I decided to try something different for a few reasons. In the fall of 2018, I began teaching the women’s Bible study at my church. That fall, we did Jen Wilkin’s study of Genesis 1–11, God of Covenant. During those months, I found it difficult to study Genesis and prepare those talks, and really spend time studying what I was reading to finish the Bible in a year. So, I chose not to make it a goal to read the Bible all the way through last year. Instead, I read all of the New Testament in January, which, averages out to 9 chapters per day. This also was not conducive to in-depth study, but I liked how it helped me get the big picture in a relatively short period of time. While I read, I practiced summarizing each chapter in 2-3 sentences. This helped me trace events and key arguments. I recommend it if you’re looking for something new. There are also plans out there to read through the New Testament in 40 days. That may be fun to try for Lent.

Beginning in February devoted the rest of the year to studying specific books in depth (they were the same books I was teaching in our women’s Bible study). The spring was spent in 1–3 John, and the summer and fall were devoted to Genesis 12–50. I have come to love spending months in one book and the depth of the insights that come from that.

With that in mind, for 2020 I am trying to find the best of both worlds. I am back to reading through the Bible in one year. I am using the Blue Letter Bible’s chronological reading plan which can be found Here. In addition, I am going to pick 3 or 4 books of the Bible to study in depth. I will be studying Hebrews from now until mid-April (our spring study for church), and then will move on to James. I expect to spend most of the summer in James. I’m not sure what I will choose for the fall. I’m hoping an Old Testament book will stand out as I’m reading.

I also want to be sure to mention that there is no perfect way to study God’s word. Maybe you’re reading this and don’t think you could possibly spend that much time, or don’t yet know what it means to really study. Just take what time you have and read it! That’s the most important thing. Five minutes a day is not a waste. If that’s all the time you have right now, use it! While I have a pretty full schedule, I live alone and don’t have to care for a family right now. I’m also probably not spending nearly as much time as you think. I’m a really fast reader.

This is what it looks like in my house. I do my daily reading through the Bible in the mornings while I eat breakfast. The reading takes 10-15 minutes. Please understand that I am not doing an in-depth study here. I am reading for comprehension and a bird’s eye view of the meta narrative. I am using my Growth Book to track a few themes that I want to able to trace through the whole Bible. Right now that means, I’m noting where I learn the names/character of God, a foreshadowing of Jesus in the Old Testament, and any reference to the presence of God among his people. If something else jumps out at me, I write that down, too. Then I pray and I’m done. That’s it. That being said, we are only 8 days in to 2020 so there may be more topics I want to add as I go. I’m studying Hebrews in the evenings while I eat dinner. This habit is a little more difficult to build because I’ve grown accustomed to eating my dinner in front of the TV. Again, I’m spending maybe 15-20 minutes going through Jen Wilkin’s Hebrews study and reading commentaries. I do spend a little longer on Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons depending on my schedule.

What are your Bible study plans for the year? If you’ve got any questions for me, drop them in the comments and I may answer them in a future post!

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