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Should You Read Through the Bible in a Year?

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Should you read through the Bible in a year? Many Christians ask themselves this question as the year draws to a close. It’s a good question and a great habit. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for you every year.

December is always a busy month with Christmas celebrations and all that means. But the start of December is also when many people, including me, start thinking about goals for next year. Some years I set a goal of reading through the Bible in one year. Some years I don’t have that as a goal.

Reading Through the Bible in a Year

If you are considering what challenges to set before yourself next year, you should definitely consider this question. Whether or not you should read through the Bible in one year is a great question to ask yourself. Here are a few more questions that might help answer that big one.

Why Should You Read Through the Bible in a Year?

Why are you considering reading through the Bible in one year? Your answer to this one question may be all you need to make a decision. Let’s look at some possible answers.

ANSWER: All my friends, family, or Bible study members are doing it.

That’s great for them. You should encourage them and celebrate their achievements. But just because others are reading through the Bible in one year doesn’t mean you have to. In fact, if the only reason you make that choice is that everyone else is, you might want to consider a different approach to Scripture.

ANSWER: I want to get a good overview of the full story of Scripture.

This is a great reason to set a goal of reading through the Bible in one year. Having a deadline for reading every book is a great way to view God’s story in its entirety. If this is your motivation, you might also want to consider a 90-day or 180-day plan. I would also suggest following a chronological plan. By reading chronologically, you get a better idea of where the history and prophets intersect in the Old Testament, what events happened before or led to others, and who lived when.

ANSWER: I’ve never read through the entire Bible before.

While I definitely think every believer should read through the Bible several times in their lives, this alone might not be enough to sustain your motivation for 12 months. I would call this a starting point for setting that goal but try to add something to it. For example, maybe you’ll decide you want to focus on the full historical timeline (like the answer above), you may want to look for how God used miracles throughout His story, or perhaps you’ll focus on what types of people God used.

ANSWER: I’ve done it every year, so why stop?

If you’ve read through the Bible for several years in a row, I congratulate you. Keeping up this habit may be exactly what God wants you to do. But I caution you not to put God in a box. Maybe He wants something different from your time in the Word this year. Perhaps you could read through the Bible in 90 days, then spend 90 days in the gospels getting to know Jesus on a deeper level. The next 90 days could be spent reading and worshiping through the Psalms, and wrap the year with 90 days digging into Paul’s epistles and asking God how you need to change and grow.

As you can see from just these sample answers, the reason you are thinking of reading through the Bible in one year is an important consideration before adopting that goal. Sometimes, less is more. But sometimes, sticking with the tried-and-true one-year plan is just right.

Annual Bible Reading Plan
Reading the Bible in 1 year
Annual Bible Reading plans

How Will You Read Through the Bible in a Year?

How will you tackle and achieve this goal? If you’ve asked and answered the “Why?” and decided this is for you, then you need to consider your options. Let me tell you – there are options! Several choices are listed below. But first, think about how your life, your brain, and your family work.

  • Do you have (or can you make) a chunk of time for reading every day?
  • Do you learn better by reading or listening, or perhaps by reading while listening?
  • Are you motivated by “gold stars,” or some other form of recognition?
  • Can you keep yourself on track, or do you need accountability?
  • Do you want or need a few friends or family members to do this with you?

Knowing more about yourself and your ability to keep yourself motivated and accountable – or the need for others to do that – will help you decide on a plan that works for you. No one can do the reading for you – but knowing your BFF will be checking in with you two or three times a week might help you keep going!

What Plan Will You Use to Read Through the Bible in a Year?

As I’ve said, there are lots of options. Here are just a few of my favorites.

The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan was the first plan I ever used to read through the Bible in one year. Each day consists of readings from four different books, providing both variety and a sense of the continuity of Scripture. You can read all four at one time or have a morning and evening portion. The printable plan has boxes to check off each reading, providing built-in reinforcement. Great plan and a personal favorite.

This 5 Day Reading Plan has both Old Testament and New Testament readings every day. It’s arranged chronologically, which is a great way to read the Bible. If you use your own Bible – instead of an app so you can make notes in the margins – it might be the perfect plan for you. Each year’s plan comes out late the year before, but you can start anytime.

The One Year Bible Reading Plan is available to print and guide you through the Bible, book-by-book. You read your own Bible, using the guide provided. Every day has four passages to read, so it gives you a good variety.

If you want a physical Bible that will guide you through your one-year journey, you can’t go wrong with The One-Year Bible. It comes in a variety of editions and translations, so you’re sure to find one you like. Although I’ve used The One-Year Bible in past years, I prefer using my regular Bible. I like taking notes in the margins, circling and underlining things, looking up similar passages, and referring back to all these notations regularly.

My favorite app for Bible reading plans is YouVersion. They have a huge number and variety of plans! Along with dozens (maybe hundreds) of choices, they have plenty of plans that cover the Bible in one year. The variety they offer gives many reasons to look into their plans. I have used some of their shorter plans, but never a one-year plan. I guess I’m just a non-digital Bible reader!

Of course, there are far more plans available than I could ever write about. All you need to do is Google “one-year Bible reading plans” and you’ll have plenty to choose from! The links I’ve provided are just to get you started thinking about and planning for 2020.

Not Quite Sure?

First, remember there is no shame in not reading through the Bible in one year. We are all saved by Jesus’ sacrificial death for our sins – and nothing else. Whether you read the Bible in one year or not doesn’t make you a “better” or “worse” Christian.

However, you must always remember that the Bible is God’s way of communicating with us. If you have put your faith in Jesus for salvation, reading the Bible is as necessary as breathing and eating. If you aren’t ready for a one-year plan, choose something else. But definitely have a plan for reading your Bible daily.

Two Shorter Reading Plans to Consider

I have two resources that might help you to get a start on that reading. If you have never read much (or any) of the Bible and don’t know where to start, check out the basic overview plan provided by Ligonier Ministries. It covers a lot, but you won’t be reading everything!

If even that seems like too much, just choose the New Testament portion of the Ligonier Ministries plan. Once you’ve conquered that list, then you can move on to the Old Testament. Even reading one chapter each day is better than nothing. If 3, 4, or 5 chapters seem like too much, start with 1!

Wherever you read, you should keep a record of what you’ve read. I love journaling for this purpose, but even just completing (click for a FREE checklist) as you read it is helpful. Once you finish one book (the Gospel of Luke?), you will be able to see your progress on your checklist and be motivated to move on to the next chapter.

The bottom line is this: read the Bible regularly. If you aren’t in that habit, start now! Don’t wait until January 1. If you already have an established Bible reading habit, start planning now what your Bible reading will look like next year.

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