Two points right up front:
1. I’ve tried a lot of different plans over the years. They all work pretty well.
2. The best Bible reading plan is the one that works for you.
That said, I’d like to mention my favorite Bible reading plan, which happens to be the one I’m currently using. It’s really about Bible listening, which right away sets it apart.
A Bible listening plan is one where instead of simply (or only) reading the biblical text, you actually listen to it at the same time. I’ve been using this method for a year now, and I think it’s the most beneficial Bible reading I’ve ever done.
To make it work right, you’ll need a smartphone (iPhone or Android) or an iPad (or some other tablet computer). It will work on a laptop, but it works much better on a portable computer system.
Start by downloading two apps: YouVersion and Bible.is. Both are free. I use YouVersion for reading the text and Bible.is for listening to the text being read. Bible.is offers you various choices, including dramatized versions of several popular translations.
I’ve been listening to the dramatized version of the New Revised Standard Version (although you could listen to dramatized versions of the ESV and the KJV). Personally I like the dramatized versions because they add background music, different voices for the different speakers, and various sound effects. Then I read along using the YouVersion app, usually in the ESV. By listening to one version and reading in another, I’m forced to pay more attention to the text and to think about the places where the translations are not the same.
Listening to the Bible slows me down. If the dramatized version takes 7 minutes to go through a chapter, then that’s how long I sit and listen and read along at the same time. This year I’ve been through quite a bit of the Bible this way, and I have found it fascinating and spiritually profitable to do some “Bible listening” along with my Bible reading.
To be clear about it, I haven’t gone through the whole Bible in one year, but that was never my goal. I do a chapter or two a day and find it invigorating to slow down and listen to the Bible and to think about why verses are phrased a certain way.
I’ve gone through Hebrews and John and Psalms and Proverbs and Lamentations and Ephesians and Daniel and Deuteronomy and a few others books also. I really enjoyed Leviticus and felt like I understood it for the first time. Listening to the Song of Solomon will cause you to see the book as it was meant to be–a love poem in honor of marriage. Right now I’m almost to the end of Luke.
What I’m proposing here is a Bible reading method, not a Bible reading plan. You still have to decide where you will begin reading. I found a great selection of plans on this YouVersion page.
Since January 1 is a day for new beginnings, you could begin the new year with a new start in your Bible reading. Maybe 2013 will be the year when you jazz up your devotional life by doing some Bible listening as well.
It certainly worked for me.