(Scroll Down to find the link to the reading Plan)
On December 30, 1842, a 29-year-old Scottish pastor named Robert Murray M’Cheyne wrote a letter to his congregation. He said:
MY DEAR FLOCK,—The approach of another year stirs up within me new desires for your salvation, and for the growth of those of you who are saved. “God is my record how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” What the coming year is to bring forth, who can tell? . . . Those believers will stand firmest who have no dependence upon self or upon creatures, but upon Jehovah our Righteousness. We must be driven more to our Bibles, and to the mercy-seat, if we are to stand in the evil day. Then we shall be able to say like David—, “The proud have had me greatly in derision, yet have I not declined from thy law.” “Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart standeth in awe of thy Word.” It has long been in my mind to prepare a scheme of Scripture reading, in which as many as were made willing by God might agree, so that the whole Bible might be read once by you in the year, and all might be feeding in the same portion of the green pasture at the same time.
I regularly feel these same stirrings in my heart for my own congregation. So a couple years ago, I gave the people of Pepperell Christian Fellowship a two-year Bible reading plan and invited the whole church to read through the Bible together, with all of us “feeding in the same portion of the green pasture at the same time.” The fruit over these last couple years has been immense. We’ve enjoyed many conversations about the Bible that we would never otherwise have had. People who had never read the whole Bible have done so for the first time. We’ve come together around the Word.
I am aware of the drawbacks of Bible-reading plans, but I think the advantages outweigh the drawbacks. M’Cheyne agreed. After writing the above paragraph, M’Cheyne went on to discuss both the dangers and the advantages of giving a Bible-reading plan to his congregation. The dangers he mentioned were formality (in which Bible-reading degenerates into a lifeless duty); self-righteousness (we pat ourselves on the back for doing the daily reading and ticking the box); careless reading (we read fast to get it done and don’t tremble at the Word of God); and having the Bible-reading plan become a yoke too heavy to bear. M’Cheyne counseled those for whom the plan had become a heavy yoke to “throw aside the fetter and feed at liberty in the sweet garden of God. My desire is not to cast a snare upon you, but to be a helper of your joy.”
After noting the dangers of a reading plan, M’Cheyne went on to list the many advantages. These included the reading of the entire Bible in an orderly manner over the course of a year; no wasting of time deciding what portion of Scripture to read each day; improved spiritual conversations between parents and children and between friends when each member of a family or circle of friends is individually reading the same portions of Scripture; a greater opportunity for pastors to reference passages of the Bible in their praying and preaching and individual conversation with church members who have just read those same passages; the strengthened bond of Christian love and unity among Christians who are reading the Scriptures together.