The Daily Bible Reading Answer Site
The Digging Deeper Daily (3D) reading plan follows a blended chronological and thematic approach to reading the whole Bible. Every day you will read two Old Testament passages (usually in differing genres, prose and poetry) and one New Testament passage. This plan will help you see the unified message of the Old and New Testaments. For more about the 3D reading plan see below.
Why the 3D is a good plan to follow
In short, a well-designed Bible reading plan will keep you interested. There are no dull days in the 3D plan! Here are my top five tips for reading the whole Bible in a year:
- Choose a reading plan with daily variety. The Bible contains several different genres of writing, and some are much more difficult to digest than others. Poetry is a harder genre to read, and so I often am not in the mood to read 4 chapters of poetry in single sitting. But reading one chapter per day works well. The variety built into the DDD reading plan will keep you from getting bogged down in certain historical sections, difficult chapters of prophecy, or poetry.
- I recommend that you avoid plans that don’t include a daily portion from the New Testament. Some plans keep you in the Old Testament from January to August, and then you whiz through the NT from September to December. You won’t be able to savor any of the richness of a book like Ephesians if you whiz through it in one or two days. Like poetry, some New Testament passages are best handled in shorter segments.
- This is perhaps my most important suggestion: For devotional reading— recharging of your spiritual batteries daily, use a Bible translation that is easy to understand. We recommend that every believer have access to both a good literal Bible translation and a good meaning-based translation. Use your meaning-based translation in your daily devotional time, and use a literal translation (like the ESV) as your take-to-church Bible and the one on which you base your in-depth study. The best meaning-based translations available today are the New Living Translation (NLT) and the Good News Translation (GNT). For more about Bible translations, see below.
- If you will use a real-book Bible, you can print the 3D plan, and there are advantages to using a real-book Bible. I like how I can be creative in marking a real book Bible, and I seem to remember where important passages fell on the page. Even so, nowadays I read the Bible on my tablet and enjoy how the YouVersion Bible reading app makes it easy to track my reading progress, make highlights, share verses with friends, and read a plan’s Devotional Content. The 3D Devotional Content will
- remind you what you read in yesterday’s reading,
- help you connect the dots to see the cohesion of God’s Word,
- encourage you to dig deeper for hidden treasures in God’s Word.
- Slow down! If you follow the 3D reading plan, you have more ways to access God’s Word. You can just read the daily readings, listen to the daily readings, or do both. Some people read the plan in one translation, and listen to the podcast on their way to work. If you have time, reading along in the same translation while I am reading will encourage you to slow down. Simply scanning God’s Word like a news article will not help you. Slowing down increases retention of the content and also gives you time to think deeper about God’s Word.
Overview of the 3D reading plan:
Recommended Bible translations for devotional reading
Are you wanting to read the Bible so that you can check it off your bucket list? Or are you wanting to read it so that you will understand it and experience how God will speak to you through it? You will of course answer, “I want to understand it.” And “I want God to speak to me through it.”
There are Bibles that will help you understand it, and when we’re talking about reading ALL of the Bible, it is good to pick the best one for the purpose— your answer to the questions above. You will have heard a lot of people say that their choice of Bible is ‘the best one’. But few people ask the important questions, “Best for what kind of people?” And, “Best for what purpose?” The Bible your pastor has chosen as the best one for his personal study and for teaching his congregation will often not be the best one for a group of Jr. High students to read. A more difficult to read literal translation with full study notes will often not be the best translation for the single Mom grabbing a bit of God’s Word before rushing off to work. That kind of Bible may work great for someone who can spend an hour daily in their personal study.
I don’t want to go into a long description here about different types of Bible translations. The great thing is, we English speakers have literally hundreds of translations to choose from. If you would like to read a bit more about Bible translation types, I suggest you take a look at my blog post entitled More about Bible Translations. So without all that background information, let me just skip to the point: A popular literal translation like the English Standard Version (ESV), or like the KJV, will not encourage you toward your goal of reading the whole Bible with understanding in 365 days. It is discouraging when day after day you don’t understand readings in the prophetic books.
Let me give a short example: In the ESV, Zechariah 10:12 says “I will make them strong in the Lord, and they shall walk in his name, declares the Lord.” There is nothing wrong with that as a literal translation. But such a translation doesn’t help the reader to understand who ‘them/they’ are. Is the Lord going to make the Egyptians and Assyrians mentioned in the previous verse strong? Or is he going to strengthen the people of Israel? And then you wonder, what does it mean to ‘walk in his name’. Let’s just assume for now that the Lord’s name is meant. But how does one walk in the Lord’s name? English speakers never talk about walking in someone else’s name. The phrase could mean several things. NOW, if such puzzling phrases didn’t come up very often, it would be one thing. But some OT prophetic books can have many such verses all in the same chapter. Only people with extended daily devotional times will be able to research such puzzling verses. However Biblical scholars have solved these puzzles! If you read the GNT or the NLT (two of the very best meaning-based translations), you will get the results of thorough scholarly research expressed in clear and natural English. You won’t get bogged down, and you will have the pleasure of moving past basic understanding, to how to put God’s Word into practice.
I can just hear someone saying, “But our church doesn’t use the GNT or the NLT!” That’s OK. Use the Bible your church uses for your in-depth study preparing for Sunday School classes and Bible studies, and use a meaning based translation like the GNT or NLT for your daily devotional reading. You will find that 365 days reading a good meaning-based Bible translation will result in better informed interpretation when you are doing in-depth study in your take-to-church Bible.
I recommend that people not use The Message or another paraphrase. Paraphase-type Bibles add things not intended by the original authors, or take away details that are part of God’s Word.