Many years ago I saw an article explaining how Billy Graham read through both the book of Psalms and the book of Proverbs each month.
He read one chapter in Proverbs per day—Proverbs 1 on the 1st day of the month and so on through the 31st. I guess he’d read several on the 28th of February to make it to the end (certainly wouldn’t want to neglect the Proverbs 31 woman).
Then he read five psalms daily to be able to finish the entire book and cycle around to begin again with Psalm 1 the next month.
He said that the book of Psalms taught him how to get along with God, and the book of Proverbs taught him how to get along with his “fellow man.”
This made a great impression on me.
So I tried it.
A Proverb a day worked pretty well, but I got a little overwhelmed by Psalms.
Take, for example, a long psalm like 119. Reading all of that and four other psalms in one day felt like too much compared to Day 1, when on Billy’s plan, I would read Psalms 1-5. They’re shorter.
I guess for devotional reading, I needed a more predictable length.
Then I started using the psalter in a copy of The Book of Common Prayer that I picked up at a bookstore.
In the back, the entire book of Psalms was divided up into more or less equal portions—one portion for the morning, and another for the evening. This made each day’s reading so much more manageable and predictable in length. Plus, by having a morning and evening reading, I could bracket my day with psalms.
I used that psalter for the first year or so (I wasn’t entirely consistent, but I followed the plan pretty well—I’d catch up after missing a day or two). The translation used in the Book of Common Prayer offered a slightly different emphasis at times, as the wording was slightly different from the translation I used more often (NIV).
Eventually, however, I found that I wanted to go through it using the NIV.
One afternoon when I had some time on my hands, I opened up my NIV study Bible and right on the pages, I marked up the book of Psalms in pencil to follow the same pattern of morning and evening readings. Now I had my own psalter to follow, right there in my own Bible. Handy.
I haven’t always used it, but when I hit a point in my spiritual life when I crave that consistent routine, I start up in the Psalms, on whatever day it happens to be, and begin the cycle.
Today is the 26th.
This morning’s reading began with Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
I looked up from my Bible and asked one of my daughters, who was finishing up her cereal, if she recognized it. She shook her head.
“But it’s famous!” I exclaimed. “Amy Grant sang it using the King James version.” I proceeded to sing, “Thy word…”
“Oh! Yes, I remember it now.”
And the same morning reading today included a passage that I love:
“The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.”
The unfolding of your words gives light.
Perhaps it’s the writer in me that responds to that so intensely, but it brings me hope as I work with words and offer them to the world. I seek understanding and I seek to offer words that give light.
This link takes you to an online psalter from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
If you’re on the computer a lot, you could log on and start your day with something meaningful on the screen—and in your heart—before launching your work, blog, or play.
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