Do you want to learn how to create your own topical Bible reading plans? You’re in the right spot!
I started creating topical Bible reading plans for Intentional By Grace subscribers at the beginning of the year.
Recently a reader wrote in this question:
“How do I create my own topical Bible reading plan?”
I thought this was such a great question!
Having a plan for your Bible study time is key to staying consistent and motivated. Having a tailor-made plan that you created is even more motivating!
Therefore, I wanted to teach you how to create your own topical Bible reading plans because I think this reader isn’t the only one with this question!
How to Create Your Own Topical Bible Reading Plan
1. Find a concordance
Any sort of concordance will work!
2. Determine the topic of study
Next decide on what you want to study. Is there a particular word or topic in the Bible you’re interested in, curious about, or need to grow in?
I’ve put together three different topical Bible study plans for Intentional By Grace readers so far this year:
The reader who asked the question wanted to do a topical reading plan on each fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
At this point you also want to determine your overarching goal for the study. I suggest writing a single sentence purpose statement for your study.
Don’t let this trip you up or bog you down. Why do you want to study this topic?
For example, when I did the study on living intentionally, I wanted to better understand why it’s important to be purposeful with my time.
Just write down whatever your main goal for the study is.
3. Use your concordance to look up scripture references
Next, you want to use your concordance to find each scripture reference to your word or topic of choice.
For some topics, like the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), this can be really simple as there are a lot of references to these terms.
But if you’re wanting to do a study on the importance of knowing God’s word, obviously you’re going to need to narrow down to a few words that you can look up. So, you’ll need to brainstorm biblical language in relation to your topic, like in this case: know, think, and wisdom.
Additionally, you want to think about the opposite of the topic or word you’re wanting to study.
Sticking with the same example, I also looked up references to ignorance and deceit to round out my study of the importance of knowing God’s word.
When I did my study on love, I also looked up references to hate in my concordance.
Write each reference you come across down on a sheet of paper.
Note: You’re not reading the references just yet. You’re making a list that you will read through one by one, in a bit. Just write down all the scripture references.
4. Read through all the scripture references with your ultimate goal in mind
Now you want to start reading through all of the scriptures you have written down. As you read, you want to keep your ultimate goal in mind. Will this scripture help you meet this goal of understanding this topic more thoroughly?
Not every mention of your word in scripture will actually fit the context of your study. So, you’ll just need to weed out the distractions during this quick read through of the verses you have written down.
When I’m doing my read through I usually put a star by the ones I know I’m going to use (these fit perfectly), a triangle by the ones that are “maybes” (these could fit), and I completely cross off the ones that don’t help me meet my overall goal.
At this point, you also want to consider skimming whole passages that the verse is found in. This will help with context.
For example, if my reference is Philippians 3:8, I’m going to skim all of chapter 3 to see how much is needed to understand my topic. In this case, for the knowing God’s word study, I decided to use Philippians 3:8-16 to get a full reading on the topic.
5. Determine how many days you want to devote to the topic
Once you see how many scriptures you have, you need to determine how many days you want to devote to the topic. This part is entirely up to you!
- 7-days – I did this for my 7-Day Scripture Study on Why We Live Intentionally
- One month (30 days)
- 21-days (what I’m doing right now for my topical Bible reading plans)
I like determining a set number of days because it gives me the accountability I need, but this part is optional if that puts too much pressure on you.
Of course, setting a number of days doesn’t hold you to that. You might find you need to speed up or slow down and you’re at complete liberty to do that!
6. Write out your plan
Now you’re ready to finalize your reading plan.
Some things to keep in mind:
Be realistic with how much time you have to read each day. If you only have time to read 1-2 verses a day, then break your reading up into increments with this in mind. If you’re able to do more than that, then break your reading into larger portions.
Just be realistic, not idealistic, about the time you have to spend each day! I’m speaking to you mom of a preschooler, toddler, and a newborn!
This is YOUR plan. Don’t get caught in the comparison trap here! Don’t think you should be doing more than you’re able. God knows the season of life you’re in, and this is why you’re making your own plan – you can set the pace of your study!
Finally, just because the scriptures were in the concordance, it doesn’t mean they fit your overarching goal. Don’t be afraid to cross scripture references off your list like I mentioned above. This is okay and even recommended in getting a topical Bible reading plan that works for you and your goal for the study!
Now, write your plan out and add check boxes if you like. You can do this in a Word document or on a simple piece of notebook paper. It’s entirely up to you!
That’s all there is to creating your own topical Bible reading plan.
Now just add it to your prayer notebook and you’re all set!
On average it takes me 30-45 minutes to create the topical Bible reading plans that I give out to subscribers each month (and that includes converting to PDF, loading it to my site, and updating my email campaign to include the new link).
So, it’s likely that this should only take you about 30 minutes to do once you get the hang of it.
The biggest challenge is not getting caught up in the study right away. Just remember you’re making a plan and you’ll come back later to spend time in each section with more thoroughness.
On your checklist write down a few questions you can ponder during each reading as well as a prompt to pray.
I’ve found this helpful in spurring deeper thinking on the topic when I’m having a serious bout of brain fog (which is every single day of my life right now).
Here are the three questions I include in my free monthly topical bible reading plans (and what I recommend including on your final reading plan):
- How can you summarize this passage?
- What does this passage teach you about biblical love? (or said topic)
- What is the lord specifically leading you to do in response to this passage?
Finally, include a prompt to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you to walk in obedience to this passage.
I think it’s easy to just rush off from reading without asking for the help we need to actually apply what we learned.
Want to receive my topical Bible reading plans each month? Just tell me where to send it! You’ll get access to all past studies as well.
Do you use topical Bible reading plans? Have you ever considered making one of your own?
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