Several times throughout my Christian life I tried to read the Bible in a year. Like so many others, I failed time & time again. In my first attempt I made it to Exodus, but I quit while reading the measurements for the Tabernacle. I didn’t understand their importance & found it boring. Another time I reached Leviticus, but called it quits because it made absolutely no sense.
No matter what I tried, I couldn’t make it past the first few months of reading. So, resigned to the fact that I’d never accomplish the feat, I put it on the back burner for several years, not even attempting it when January 1 rolled around.
Then something incredible happened. I decided to tackle the insurmountable task again. But this time I exceeded my expectations! Not only did I read the entire Bible, I did it in half the time!
Why am I telling you this? Because if I can do it, so can you. Let me tell you how! This week I want to equip you with the tools necessary to read through the entire Bible. Let’s start with the why.
Have a Reason Why
To achieve anything in life you have to have a goal. But more important than the goal is the reason why you want to achieve your goal.
Anyone who is successful in life has both components: the goal & the why. Without both, you’re bound to fail. It’s easy to come up with a goal, and it’s something we do all the time, especially when the new year approaches. Think about all the people who sign up for a gym membership wanting to get fit or shed pounds in the new year. They have a goal.
But, what keeps them pressing toward their goal? It’s the why that keeps them going. If you want to lose weight for the sake of losing weight, then it’s easy to quit when motivation wanes because there is no real reason keeping you motivated. But, let’s say that you’ve been diagnosed as pre-diabetic & you want to lose weight so you can run around with your grandkids. Now that’s a reason that’ll keep you going when you get bored or hit a plateau.
The same is true for Bible study & reading through the Bible in a year. You need to have a legitimate reason why that will keep you going when you hit the less exciting parts of Scripture.To read through the Bible you need more than a goal. You also need a reason WHY you want to achieve the goal. Click To Tweet
My why moment came while watching my friend go through his ordination exam. During a period of questioning he was forced to admit that he’d never read or studied a particular book of the Bible. While he answered honestly, the response didn’t sit well with me. Nearing my own possible ordination in another year or two, I was determined to not have a similar answer. Even if I didn’t understand everything, I at least wanted to be able to say I’d read the entire Bible. With a why firmly in place, I was ready to tackle the task again.
If you’re going to attempt to read through the Bible, you’ll need to find your why. What’s a reason that will keep you motivated? Once you have this in place, you’ve taken the biggest step toward success; but, without it, you’ve doomed yourself to failure.
Find the Right Bible Reading Plan
The next step in the process is coming up with a plan. Like with any goal, you need to have a plan for how you’re going to get there. Again, Bible reading is no different. If you’re going to read the entire Bible, you need a plan. Let me show you how my why helped me create the perfect plan.
In previous Bible reading attempts I stuck with traditional plans that went from Genesis to Revelation. I knew those wouldn’t work. I always found myself getting stuck in the Old Testament, and I wasn’t going to let that happen again. This led me to investigate other Bible reading plans.
I looked at things like M’Cheyne’s plan, which breaks it up to include both Old & New Testament readings. While appealing, there was still too much Old Testament reading for me to get through in a single day. I just knew I’d quit if I went with this plan.
Then I remembered my why. I wanted to read the Bible. But an underlying goal became evident: I also wanted to understand it. That’s when the lightbulb came on! I could read the Bible chronologically, putting the pieces together like a puzzle to assemble the big picture.To read through the Bible you need a plan that works for you, not against you. Don't be afraid to experiment & find what works best for you. Click To Tweet
This was a great idea, but I knew it needed a twist. So, I raised the stakes & took something I liked about M’Cheyne’s plan: the daily readings from the Old & New Testaments. Instead of going straight through, I would include a New Testament reading everyday. Now I knew that if I ever got bogged down in an Old Testament passage, I’d at least have an easier reading to look forward to in the New Testament. Plus, I could read both chronologically.
My plan was set!
Build in Accountability
The next step involves creating accountability. It’s easy to have a goal, a reason why, and even a plan; but, if you don’t work the plan it means nothing. Therefore, you need to make sure your goal is visible at all times.
When you’re forced to look your goal in the eye everyday, you’re less likely to fail. I think about Jerry Seinfeld’s goal to write at least one joke per day, and marking an X on the calendar when he’d completed the task. That visual reminder made it easy to see how long he’d kept the streak going, which motivated him to not want to ever miss a single day.
If you’re going to read the Bible in a year, you must have the same kind of accountability. It needs to stare you in the face daily.
When I set out on my journey to read through the Bible I was an avid Logos Bible Software user and had quite a few mobile devices. I decided to use these tools to my advantage.
One of the incredible things about Logos is its flexibility with reading plans. You can use predefined plans or create your own. Logos even allows you to set your own parameters for how often you want to read. The possibilities for reading plans are truly endless.
So, I found a chronological Bible reading plan & then edited as needed for my purposes. I then plugged the data into Logos & let it create my plan.
Next, I took advantage of my phone’s capabilities. I exported my reading plan to a calendar file I could then import into Google calendar. With an alarm set for each calendar item, I now had a daily reminder of when and what to read.
At the time I also owned an iPod Touch which had the Logos app on it. I used this app to download a copy of my plan, as well as my preferred Bible translation. With the app on my iPod Touch, I no longer tethered to a print Bible; but, now I could read anywhere at any time. And, boy, did I take advantage of the “anywhere.”
My accountability was a calendar app & reminder, but it could really be anything. It could be a calendar on the wall, or your friend or spouse reminding you to do the reading. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s reliable & is something you cannot ignore.
With everything in place, all that’s left is to work the plan.
Work the Plan
The last step is to work the plan. I was a bit unconventional, so here’s how I did it.
When most people plan to read the Bible in a year they start on January 1st. Most reading plans even encourage this behavior by dating their readings. When I came up with my plan it was Fall. January was too far away & I didn’t want to wait, knowing my motivation would diminish. I didn’t wait for the new year. Instead, I started the following Monday, with the goal of ending a year from that day.
So, I started the plan.
A week went by and I was doing well. I hadn’t missed a day. A couple more weeks went by and I had even squeezed in a few extra readings, putting me a few days ahead. I kept reading & come a month later I was somehow an entire month ahead of schedule!
The plan happened, that’s what! With my why firmly in place, I found myself enjoying my Bible reading. With the chronological plan I was starting to see how everything fit together in both the Old and New Testaments.
I was so enthralled by the readings that I couldn’t stop. I’d set out to do a single day’s reading, only finish the day having done three or four days worth because I was enjoying the story so much.
My pace eventually slowed down. I even missed a few days because, you know, life happens. But, before I knew it, I was at the end of my reading plan and it had only been six months.You'll be surprised with what you can accomplish if you have a goal, reason why, & a plan. When you work it, you'll get results! Click To Tweet
You Can Do It Too
I would love to say there’s something special about what I did, but there’s not. The truth is you can do it too, and probably do it better than I can.
Success boiled down to two things: 1) figuring out goal’s why, and 2) finding a plan that worked.
With the pieces in place, I worked my plan and God did the rest.
The Bible’s story is beautiful, but takes time to get into. You just have to read it in a way that keeps your interest. Once you do that, it comes to life & you won’t want to put it down.
My plan worked so well for me that I’ve used it several more times to read through the Bible, albeit at a much slower pace on subsequent reads. To keep it fresh, I even use a different Bible translation each time.
Create & Work Your Plan
Have you ever read through the Bible? If not, what would motivate you to see it through to completion? Figure out your why & find your plan. And remember, creating your plan also means determining your pace. Do what’s going to work for you. It doesn’t have to take you six months or a year; it could take you two or three years, and that’s okay. Simply make the plan & work it.
As a gift, I want to share my reading plans with you. Fill out the form below and I’ll send them to you right away! I’ve included several variations of the plan I’ve used to read through the Bible. If you use them, I’d love to hear from you.
Weekly Study Prompts
This week, meditate and journal on the following passages:
- Monday – Psalms 119:129-176; 139
- Tuesday – Psalms 148-150
- Wednesday – 1 Kings 2
- Thursday – 1 Kings 3; 6
- Friday – 1 Kings 8; 9:1-9
- Memory Verses: Psalms 139:1-3; 139:15-16