The other day I read an article by Gavin Ortlund about how to read your Bible. The article can be found here. I think it was a good article, and I thought I should share how I read the Bible for your edification.
Years ago, about a year after I came to know the Lord, I started the Horner Bible Reading plan. Basically, you read ten chapters a day from all over the Bible. I think it was good for me to get an overview of the Bible, but I had to stop for two reasons: 1) It took a long time, 2) it broke up narratives that were meant to be read as a whole, and 3) I wasn’t remembering what I, even after I read the chapter. For all the time I spent reading, I did not remember the material that much, which is exactly what Ortlund hit on in one of his points. I ended up knowing Proverbs and Acts really well, but the prophets became disconnected. Last school year, I resorted to reading a couple chapters of the Gospels every day, a psalm, and (I think) a proverb. I did this because I could not think of a good way to help me retain what I was reading.
What has worked best for me so far is an idea suggested by John MacArthur in his book How to Study the Bible. His plan involves reading a portion of scripture over and over for a month, and looking at an outline of it at the same time. By the end of the month you should know the passage pretty well. He also suggest that you alternate the epistles with the Gospels. For example, you read all of Philippians for a month, and at the beginning of the next moth you read a portions of John (let’s say the first 7 chapters of John, so that you can finish it after three month-blocks). Ideally, you should know the New Testament really well in a few years.
I started the plan over the summer by reading 1 Timothy; but I neglected to look at the outline as much, so that right off the top of my head I would not be able to give you a solid outline. Right now, I am reading the first 6 chapters of 2 Corinthians, but still I have had trouble pulling up an outline and looking at it every day. Today, I wrote a very short note on the idea of each paragraph to the side, which I think will help in just remembering key ideas (I did this in pencil because I have destroyed Bibles before with highlighter and pen marks!). I have done something similar in the Psalms, and it was helpful just to get an overview of the Psalm after I read through it.
The key that I think needs to be emphasized is actually being able to contemplate what is in scripture. If you are spending an hour a day reading your Bible, but not remembering hardly any of it, what good is it?