Reading the 8s
Dr. Ray PritchardDr. Ray Pritchard is the president of Keep Believing Ministries, in Internet-based ministry serving Christians in 225 countries. He is the author of 29 books, including Stealth Attack, Fire and Rain, Credo, The ABCs of Christmas, The Healing Power of Forgiveness, An Anchor for the Soul and Why Did This Happen to Me? Ray and Marlene, his wife of 43 years, have three sons-Josh, Mark and Nick, three daughters-in-law--Leah, Vanessa, and Sarah, and seven grandchildren. His hobbies include biking, surfing the Internet, and anything related to the Civil War.
- 2008 Oct 08
This morning I got up early and starting “reading the 8s.” Tomorrow I will “read the 9s” and on Friday I will “read the 10s.” This is all about a new Bible reading plan that I started a month or so ago.
Let me mention in passing that over the years, I’ve done almost every reading program imaginable. I’ve used pre-packaged programs, written devotional notes, worked on outlines, read Bible study guides, followed “read-the-Bible-in-a-year” programs, and so on. And my personal verdict is—the best Bible reading plan is like the best diet. The best diet is the one you’ll actually stay on. And the best Bible reading program is the one that works for you.
I think most people do a variety of
things over the years. That’s okay. You don’t need to follow the same
routine for 50 years—though it’s okay if you do. So with that as
background, here’s what I’m doing at the moment. I’m reading chapters
of the Bible according to the days of the month. That is, in the 1st
day, I read several first chapters from various Bible books. On the
second day, several second chapters. The third day, several third
chapters. Since today is October 8, I’m “reading the 8s.”
Today I read Job 8, Psalm 68, Proverbs 8, Ecclesiastes 8, Song of Solomon 8, and Matthew 8. Tomorrow I’ll “read the 9s.” Note that I’m not making any effort to read every 8th chapter today. I pick out several 8th chapters and read them. How do I choose? Well, it varies. I usually read something from Genesis-Deuteronomy. Today all the 8s were from the wisdom literature (except Matthew 8). About half the time I try to read at least one chapter from Revelation.
Now to make this more interesting, I intentionally don’t have a plan for each succeeding day. Tomorrow it might be 2 Kings 9, Ezekiel 9, Romans 9, and Hebrews 9. I usually read at least three chapters. But if the Lord speaks to me powerfully through the first chapter I read, I stop right there. This is a “no-guilt” reading plan because everything is from God’s Word, and I’m free to read as much or as little as I like each day.
As I look at my own life, I feel the need to get a broader grasp of the whole sweep of the Bible story. For many years I’ve tended to focus on little pieces here and there. This approach gives me constant variety.
Now there are some weaknesses to my program. Most of the New Testament epistles are quite short. If I don’t get to Colossians in the first four days of the month, I won’t get to it until next month. But here’s where my self-analysis comes in. I think I’ve spent too little time reading the longer books of the Bible, especially the longer books of the Old Testament.
And what about books that have more than 30 or 31 chapters? For Psalms I break it up into 30-chapter units. So my Psalms reading this month will come from Psalms 61-90. You can do similar things for Isaiah and Jeremiah, and so on.
No plan is perfect, and no plan works forever—for me, at least. But this reading plan gives me freedom, variety, and a sense of order because all I have to do is look at the calendar and say, “Today I’m reading the 8s."