Reading through the Bible in a Year1
Do you wish you knew your Bible better now than you did at the beginning of the year? Have you often thought, “It would be a great thing to read the whole Bible from cover to cover, but I’m not sure I can” ? The start of a new year is the perfect time to plan to read through the Bible. There are many reading plans that are available – chronological plans, Old Testament and New Testament each day plans, even a plan for “shirkers and slackers”! One of the wonderful things about God’s Word is that it the Holy Spirit has written it through many different types of men, producing a wide variety of literature. The Bible has history, instruction, prophecy, and poetry. You can begin where you want, or even read multiple types of books each day.
Many of you may have already tried to read through the Bible in a year, and given up part way through. Many a Bible-hiker has started out strong in familiar Genesis and Exodus, only to be lost in the unfamiliar (and difficult!) territory of Leviticus and Numbers. It may even be that the mere mention of reading through the whole Bible fills you with dread and skepticism. For those of us who need encouragement, let me give a few principles:
- Start. Yes, that is what I meant – start! Start now! If you don’t begin, you will never finish. Once you begin, you never know how the Lord will work in your life. Trust the Lord with your Bible reading, just like everything else.
- Plan. Don’t expect that everything will just “work out in the end.” Make a plan for your Bible reading. You wouldn’t take a vacation without packing and planning, would you? So make a plan for how and even when you will read. If you are a morning person, don’t wait until the end of the day when you are exhausted to read. If you are a night-owl, don’t pretend that you will get up at 5AM each day to read. Think about your own life and schedule and find the time that will work best for you. It could be lunchtime, or after dinner, or even on the drive home from work (audio Bibles work best for that!).
- Persevere. You must realize that not everything will go perfectly according to plan. When you have some extra time, read ahead. There will certainly be days when life is too hectic, or when sickness comes, that you will not be able to keep on schedule. It is also important not to give up. If you find yourself falling behind, unable to catch up, then just pick up where you should be. Better to read through 65% of the Bible in a year than to give up.
- Get Help. Don't be afraid to ask others to hold you accountable. Don't be afraid to ask others about passages or chapters you don't understand. There is also a very helpful post on the Gospel Coaliton website called "How Not to Read Your Bible in 2013."
Now that we have our principles, let me suggest a few resources for your reading:
- For those who need encouragement at the outset, How Long Does it Take to Read the Bible is a resource that will tell you just how many minutes it will take each day.
- The ESV's Crossway website has reading plans in many different formats, that you can print out, read online, or even have emailed to you each day. Among them are:
- M’Cheyne One-Year Reading Plan, developed by a Scottish Presbyterian minister. It takes you through four passage each day, two for family reading, and two for private reading. Here are PDFs in legal and letter page size.
- A Chronlogical Plan, found on Back to the Bible's website.
- Our own Pastor Emeritus, John Carroll, has a new blog where he will not only lay out a schedule, but give thoughts on each day's reading.
- R.C. Sproul's Ligonier Ministries has a webpage filled with all sorts of Bible reading plans you can download and print.
- Dr. Ben Shaw of Greenville Seminary has a interest plan called "Reading the Bible in Chunks"
- Stephen Witmer of the Gospel Coalition has a Two Year Plan.
- The Bible Reading for Slackers plan has a different genre per day, without the pressure of staying on schedule.
For the technological among us, there are many good apps to assist you in reading:
- Perhaps the best reading plan app I have seen is called (appropriately enough) Reading Plan.
- The wonderful Bible app YouVersion has many customizable plans
- The Bible Software Logos has apps for iPhone and Android that work with customizable plans
- Logos also has a community based group called FaithLife where you can read together in a group
- This website has several reading plans in many versions that you can read online, or in a special mobile version