If we want to read through the Bible in a systematic way, how do we do it?

Some Christians use a “lectionary” – which simply means that a group of people — who know the Bible very well — organized key content into passages which can be read once or twice or (rarely) a few times a day.

No lectionary is perfect – usually the compilers have to make a decision to leave some parts out. We would all likely agree that the learning the names of Benjamin’s children (I Chronicles 8) isn’t the most riveting reading. It can be an interesting puzzle, and can sometimes show biases, to figure out which parts are skipped.

Almost all Anglican parishes in Canada use a lectionary called the Revised Common Lectionary. There are 4 Sunday readings: Old Testament (except in Easter season), a selection from a psalm, a New Testament letter or Acts, and a gospel reading (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John).

There is a daily lectionary in the Book of Alternative Services, which provides for three readings a day, plus a psalm. It repeats every two years. In the Book of Common Prayer, there are four readings a day, which are longer (Old Testament and New Testament in the morning, Old and New Testament in the evening, in a one year cycle); the psalms are read through once every 2 months, with a choice to read through them monthly.

It can be a large commitment to begin using a lectionary. If you feel led to do this, I suggest starting out with one New Testament reading a day, and trying that for at least a couple of months. If you then want to try reading more, go ahead.

How do we figure out which passages to read?

I think the easier way is to use the calendar of readings on the National Church’s website.

Here is the link for the readings in the B.A.S.:

The B.C.P. readings are found at: 


If you want to find another date, put a new date on the calendar at the bottom, and then click on the “show new date” button.

If you have a B.A.S. at home, May 3, 2020, is the fourth Sunday of Easter season. Turn to page 465. If you have a B.C.P. at home, Mary 3 is the third Sunday after Easter Day. Turn to page xxviii at the front of the book.

(Sometimes the regular readings are interrupted when we remember some amazing saint. If you want to learn how to use the calendar for saints’ days, it’s simpler to ask me and I can show you.)


If you want to use a different collect – a short prayer – each week:

B.A.S.: 3 May, p. 339; 10 May, p. 340, etc.

B.C.P.: 3 Map, p. 193; 10 May, p. 194, etc.


Have fun!


Peter Armstrong