Reading through the Bible in one year in 2019? Pastors weigh in

John Piper: "Reading through the Bible in a year involves about four or five chapters a day. If you think you have to remember all you read while you’re reading those four or five chapters, this will feel absolutely overwhelming and pointless." - CPost

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

At my former church, I used to create a 3 year reading schedule. It had readings for five days a week, and each day pulled from--if memory serves--four sections of Scripture in sequence: so each 'day,' you got some OT history, some OT poetry & prophecy, some NT history, some NT epistles. I printed up a checklist with a box for each reading, so it was easy to keep track of where you were.

The idea was to go a bit slower and also make it a flexible tool. If you wanted to, you could easily read an entire book of the Bible "ahead of schedule" and check it off. Or you could do all your weekly reading on one day, or any number of things. But it was easy to tell, at the end of three years, that you had read everything at least once.

(The schedule was fairly easy to create using Logos.... would have been very difficult without it!)

T Howard's picture

I've made it a regular practice to read through the Bible, but to do so in a variety of ways. Like Aaron, I use Logos to create my Bible reading plans.

  • This year, I'm reading through the NT in Greek. Undecided about the OT at this point.
  • In 2018, I read through the OT and NT in English chronologically.
  • In 2017, I read through the OT in English and the NT in Greek.
  • In 2016, I read through the Pentateuch in Hebrew and the NT in Greek.
  • In 2015, I read through the OT in English in the order of the Tanach and the NT in English in book order.

While reading the Greek text, I have this very helpful resource by my side. Reading through the Pentateuch in Hebrew was difficult and took a lot of time. I used a BHS reader edition, but it was still rough going.

Bert Perry's picture

I've been reading through the Bible once a year--English and German, working on Hebrew--for close to 30 years now, but as I interact more closely with a lot of people, it strikes me that maybe I need to encourage something less than "in a year", specifically "have you ever read through the books of Moses, the books of history, the books of prophecy, and the like at all?"  

And along those lines, maybe churches need to "shake things up" and demonstrate a love for the entire Scripture by reading various passages aloud in services--something akin to the lectionary you see in the "high church" traditions like the Presbyterians and Methodists.  Put bluntly, I can imagine those who haven't read through the Prophets telling me "You want to tell me to love the book of Obadiah?  Show me instead by reading it in church."

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

I attempt to read through the Bible every year. A number of years ago, after extricating myself from the KJVO mindset, I started reading a different version each year. My favorite has been the 1599 Geneva which I've done twice. I've even read The Message (I know! I know! You can separate from me tomorrow.)

I find that when I read through the Bible I find myself going down blessed and delightful rabbit trails as I take notes, follow cross references, etc. and it takes me more than a year.

When I was in seminary I was challenged to read it through in a month. I "cheated" and used a set of cassette tapes and listened instead, accomplishing my goal. (I think it took 77 hours.) Since then I've learned I really enjoyed hearing the Bible read well. One year I used a dramatized Bible that included the entire text without addition (NKJV). (Richard Dreyfus did a good job as Moses.) This year I'm listening chronologically and find myself 3 days ahead already.

I love the "big picture" effect.

There are many versions available for free on Bible Gateway.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

G. N. Barkman's picture

More than thirty five years ago, I started using the Robert Murray M'Cheyne schedule.  (Four chapters a day, OT once, NT and Psalms twice each year.)  It was one of the best things I've ever done.  After about ten years, I realized my Bible comprehension increased dramatically.  Getting the big picture, plus connecting many of the parts made a huge difference.  Because of its value to me, I have kept on the same schedule ever since.  I highly recommend it to  others.

G. N. Barkman

TylerR's picture

Editor

As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I don't know how much I read in a year. I don't read everyday, but I do read for long stretches - 20 or 30 minutes are typical. I read 1 Chronicles yesterday, and also made it halfway through 2 Chronicles. I think I'll keep track this year, just so I know! 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

JD Miller's picture

I had a conversation about this with a young Christian earlier this week.  He had tried one of those read through in a year plan and had gotten behind and given up.  I encouraged him to forget about getting through in a year and instead trying to establish the habit of being in the word every day- even if just for a few verses.  I also told him that it was okay if he reread what he had read the day before.  I then told him that if he decided to read through it in a year some day, that would be fine, but that there is no Biblical requirement to do so and I would rather he just read it than to set a specific goal that would end up making what should be a blessed time, a discouragement.  

I also understand some may say that we should make time for things that are important, but some people can read three pages a minute while others read slower silently than they do out loud.  I have a son with dyslexia who listens to the Bible on audio instead of reading it with his eyes.  Even though he is using modern technology, it is still a very traditional approach when we consider that in Bible times not everyone had their own copy, so they went to the synagogue to hear it.  I once listened to the whole Bible on cassette while I was working (I was holding a steering wheel) and accomplished it in about a month and a half (some days I got to listen for 10 hrs or more).

T Howard's picture

JD Miller wrote:

I had a conversation about this with a young Christian earlier this week.  He had tried one of those read through in a year plan and had gotten behind and given up.  I encouraged him to forget about getting through in a year and instead trying to establish the habit of being in the word every day- even if just for a few verses. 

JD, I only read for 5 days each week for my reading plans. That allows me to catch up on any missed readings on the weekends. I've found that system helps me from getting discouraged and quitting when I miss a day or two during the week. That is also the recommendation I gave to my son for his Bible reading plan. Perhaps that can be an option for your guy as well.

TylerR's picture

Editor

You guys convinced me. I'll forward a buffet of good bible reading plans to the congregation this evening, when I get home from work. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

JD Miller's picture

T Howard, thank you for your suggestion.  The problem was that he had gotten so far behind that he had just given up on reading the Bible at all.  I believe he needs to establish a pattern of reading the Bible regularly before he starts a plan.  It is the idea of a little milk or small bites of ground up food to whet the palette before we give the strong meat.  (Heb. 5:12-14)

T Howard's picture

JD Miller wrote:

T Howard, thank you for your suggestion.  The problem was that he had gotten so far behind that he had just given up on reading the Bible at all.  I believe he needs to establish a pattern of reading the Bible regularly before he starts a plan.  It is the idea of a little milk or small bites of ground up food to whet the palette before we give the strong meat.  (Heb. 5:12-14)

JD, I just saw this on TGC: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/a-simple-3-step-bible-reading...

 

JD Miller's picture

Although reading through the Bible in a year is a wonderful goal, let us be careful that we not make it a measure of one's spirituality.  It is possible for someone to spend 3 times as much time in God's word or more than someone who got through it in a year and still not read the whole Bible in that time frame.  We ought to encourage each other to spend time in the word regardless of the amount that is read in a year.  (really fast readers can read 1000 words a minute, others can only read 150 or less)  Still, it only takes a little over 12 minutes a day to listen to the Bible on audio.  With our modern technology, a lot of people could get through it in a year just by listening as they drive to work.

Lu 21:1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
 2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
 3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
 

Lee's picture

Dr. Bob Wood of BJU fame once made a statement something like this: "you won't think scripturally until you have been through the Bible 25 times."  While I know it is anecdotal and very broad I think it is a sound general observation.  You think in that which you have saturated your mind with.  That is one reason we of the 70's generation automatically reference a song in our mind when we hear practically any word--we saturated our minds with the music of that era, and there was a song about everything.

I am not a pastor so I don't necessarily recommend specific reading plans. However, if the goal is to read through the Bible 25 times in the course of your productive life there are a couple of givens: you have to have a plan; it must be routine/habitual; it is going to take discipline of time.  When dealing with upper high school and college aged in particular I encourage a habit that will take them through Scripture at least once every 18-24 months on average. That will put you through Scripture about 25 times over 40 years.  A worthy goal.

What worked for me for many years was I would read a section of the OT (Law, History, Poetry, etc.) followed by one of the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles.  Then another OT section followed by a different Gospel, Acts, Epistles and Revelation.  That rotation was repeated ad infinitum. Not necessarily ideal, but it worked for me. 

You aim at nothing you will hit it every time.  

Lee

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

A lot of helpful observations. Much appreciated.

T Howard's picture

Lee wrote:

Dr. Bob Wood of BJU fame once made a statement something like this: "you won't think scripturally until you have been through the Bible 25 times."  While I know it is anecdotal and very broad I think it is a sound general observation. 

Lee, I remember reading Donald Whitney's book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. He is correct that the two most important disciplines in the life of the believer are Bible reading (or "Bible Intake") and prayer. You can't grow spiritually without these two disciplines.

Don Johnson's picture

JD Miller wrote:

I had a conversation about this with a young Christian earlier this week.  He had tried one of those read through in a year plan and had gotten behind and given up.  I encouraged him to forget about getting through in a year and instead trying to establish the habit of being in the word every day- even if just for a few verses.  I also told him that it was okay if he reread what he had read the day before.  I then told him that if he decided to read through it in a year some day, that would be fine, but that there is no Biblical requirement to do so and I would rather he just read it than to set a specific goal that would end up making what should be a blessed time, a discouragement.  

I wanted to add to this discussion. Over at P&D on New Years Day I posted links to several Bible reading plans. Three of them are published by the Navigators, from their Discipleship Journal. One of them is called the 5x5x5, which is a plan to read five days in the week and make it through the New Testament in one year. This is much easier than reading the whole Bible of course. For those who haven't been able to establish a habit, this is a good way to start. All of the Navigator plans include a "flex day" - at least one day a week for catching up. I added that to my own chronological schedule. I think the objective is the habit, not the exact accomplishment of through the Bible in a year.

I appreciate what others have said here. We need to encourage our people to just work at getting in the habit of Bible reading. The Lord will do the rest.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3