One of the most fruitful things I do is read the entire Bible every year. In this post I share with you four ways you can read the entire Bible in a year as well as which method I prefer.
Photo Credit: Steve Spinks
4 Ways to Read the Bible in a Year
1. 4 Chapters a Day
Reading four chapters a day as a way to read through the Bible in a year was the original “challenge” from Dr. Jeff Harrington while I was a student at Fresno Pacific University working on my Christian Ministry & Leadership degree. In our Spiritual Formation class Dr. Harrington suggested that we have a regular schedule for reading through the Bible every year. His basic suggestion was that we read four chapters a day.
When hearing him say to read four chapters a day I could not help but wonder if that would complete the entire Bible in a year. However, he affirmed that if you read four chapters from the Bible a day starting on January 1st, then you would finish the entire Bible sometime in October.
I really like this method of Bible reading because it gives you plenty of “days off.” Any normal person is going to have days when he or she is unable to, forget, or simply do not feel like reading the Bible. When reading four chapters a day it provides you plenty of those days. That way if you miss a day, you don’t feel that you have to catch up. Additionally, reading the Bible this way means that you are reading it in its canonical order. Meaning: you are reading the books in the original way that God designed for them to be organized. This means you get to see the Bible as a story as well as read it in chronological order (for the most part).
The one thing I sometimes struggled with reading four chapters a day was that it was a lot of reading to do during my quiet time. I normally spend about 45 minutes in my devotional time every morning, but I noticed that reading four chapters from difficult books (Prophets, Revelation, Gospels), sometimes would take half of my devotional time. In a similar way, if you decide to do your reading before you go to bed, reading four chapters a day might be a lot to digest when you are tired and about to go to sleep.
2. A Formal Bible Reading Plan
A formal Bible reading plan is probably the most popular way that people read the Bible in a year. I have never participated in a formal Bible reading plan, but if you think that using one will work for you I suggest that you try it. I have done my best to link to and describe various Bible reading plans available.
One Year Bible OnLine
By Tyndale House Publishers which provides you the typical reading in the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs everyday in an online format which you can use.
52 Week Bible Reading Plan
This is a unique plan I have not seen before. Readers read from only one book of the Bible per day, but that is a different book every day of the week.
Biblica Bible Reading Plan
The typical yearly reading plan from Biblica.
Chronological Reading Plan
This is Back to the Bible’s reading plan that helps readers read the Bible in chronological order.
YouVersion Reading Plan
The YouVersion Bible App has tons of reading plans. Not all of them will walk you through the entire Bible, but the YouVersion app lets you read the text on your phone or tablet which can make the task of reading the Bible in a year easier.
One of the best things about a formal Bible reading plan is knowing that you are studying God’s Word in a systematized and organized way. Each day normally would provide you with a reading from the Old Testament narrative material, a Psalm/Proverb, as well as a New Testament passage. This can keep your daily reading fresh and invigorating.
One thing that I have noticed as a negative to the formal Bible reading plan is that if someone misses a day (or two or three) that person does not always catch up. As a result, sometimes someone misses a few days and feels behind and as a result gives up on the reading because he thinks he cannot get caught up again.
3. Reading as Much as You Want Everyday
This is an idea but it is not something I have ever done nor is it something I have heard of anyone else doing. Additionally, I would not suggest this type of reading plan if you are serious about reading the entire Bible in a year.
It is flexible. Being able to read as much as you want or are able to read per day is great because it is flexible to you and your schedule. In fact, you might even be able to read the entire Bible twice in a year if you have that much free time!
Knowing human nature like I do means that we will not follow through on something unless we have a plan to keep us on track and accountable. There are too many other enjoyable (TV, other books, family, sports) and important (work, kids, schoolwork) things in the world that distract us from reading our Bible. Simply reading as much as you can per day as a way to read the Bible in a year will not work.
4. 3 Chapters a Day Plus a Wisdom Reading1
After spending a couple years reading four chapters a day I slightly modified my reading plan. I decided to read three chapters a day and then read something from the “wisdom books” (Proverbs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) during the evening. This was good because it helped to reduce my reading time during my devotional time because I now read three chapters in the morning and then something from the wisdom books in the evening before going to bed. This is my first year doing the exercise, so I am hoping that it means I still finish the Bible in the entire year.
The main benefit of reading a small amount of the wisdom books every day is that it helps you digest the information better. Many parts of the books of wisdom were originally short pithy sayings about how to live a successful and abundant life that honors God. Because of this, there are hundreds of wise sayings recorded in the books of wisdom. I have found these are best absorbed by reading a few every single day (instead of reading four chapters a day as I had when I first started reading the Bible in a year).
The one issue I have encountered this year as I have followed this plan is that keeping track of where I am in both places in the Bible can sometimes be difficult. For example, I might only thread four or five verses out of the book of Proverbs per day. Because of this, I have to keep a post-it note inside of my Bible in order to remind myself what verse I stopped at. This is a minor problem, but it something you should know about before starting this reading plan.
Question: What other methods for reading the Bible in a year are there? Which method have you used and how has it worked for you?
1A great resource for other Bible reading plans is located at The Gospel Coalition’s post, “How to Read the Whole Bible in 2015″.