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Read the Bible in a Year: A How To Guide

A new year is quickly approaching and you’re probably thinking to yourself, “This time I’m going to do it. I’m going to read through the Bible in a year!”

If that’s you, I want to help you reach your goal! No more false starts! I’m going to help you cross the finish line!

How do I know I can help you? Because I’ve been where you are. I used to be the kind of person who failed year after year once I reached Leviticus or Numbers, sometimes not even making it that far. But one day everything changed, and now I’ve read through the entire Bible several times. The first time I read the Bible in its entirety I set out to do it in a year & finished in six months.

If I can do it, so can you! Keep reading and I will give you the secrets to success. I’ll even throw in a Bible reading plan that will increase your chances of success.

So, if you’re ready to read the Bible in a year, keep reading.

Why Do You Want to Read the Bible in a Year?

If you’ve ever had ambitions in life, you know you need to have a goal. Tony Robbins says, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible to the visible.” But, for as important as goals are for achieving success, there’s something far more important. This something often gets overlooked and without it most people fail and never reach their goals. What is this thing? It’s a reason why.

To be successful you need both ingredients: the goal & the why. Without both you lack the tools for longterm success. You see, it’s easy to dream up a goal, like wanting to be a millionaire. But, what is going to get you to your goal of being a millionaire? How will you stay motivated to keep saving money or make the right financial decisions when life gets hard? Your reason why is what gets you over the hump. If you know why you want to be a millionaire, it’s far easier to achieve the goal. For example, some people want to be a millionaire so they can help and empower others. That kind of why will keep them motivated to reach their dreams.

Well, you need the same mindset if you want to read the Bible in a year. You must have a solid why that will keep your eyes fixed on the prize when you hit the less exciting parts of Scripture or when life gets busy.

You must have a solid reason why you want to read the Bible in a year if you want to reach your goal. Share on X

My Why Moment

My why moment came during my friend’s ordination exam to become a pastor. During the questioning period he had to punt on several answers with a response that he had never read a particular book of the Bible. They appreciated his honesty & he was ordained that evening. At the time, I was also going through the same process at our church and knew my ordination would be coming up in about a year’s time. But, I was determined to not have the same response to those questions. I wanted to be able to say I’d read the entire Bible, even if I didn’t fully understand it or couldn’t answer some random question about it. That was my why.

If you’re going to read the Bible in a year, you must have your own why. What is it that will keep you motivated? Give yourself time to figure it out, and then write it down somewhere. Once you have your why, you will have taken the biggest step toward reaching your goal. But, know, without it, you’re setting yourself up for another round of failure.

Choosing the Right Bible Reading Plan for You

With your why firmly in place, you’re ready for the next step, which is the one most people want to jump to first: choosing the plan. You need the right plan if you’re going to read the Bible in a year.

Some people think they can wing it and just pick up the Bible and read Genesis to Revelation. That’s cool, but it’s the most common reason why they fail. Trust me, I know; it’s the reason why I failed so many times. If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail, even in your Bible reading.

If you’re going to read the Bible in a year, you need the right plan. Now, I’m not going to tell you which plan is best for you, as that is highly personal, but I’ll tell you how my why helped me create my perfect plan.

To read the Bible in a year, you need a plan that's going to work for you, not someone else. Share on X

How I Chose My Plan

Having tried and failed to read from Genesis to Revelation in the past, I knew this plan of attack was not going to help me reach my goal. So, I researched popular Bible reading plans. I looked at plans like M’Cheyne’s, which breaks up the reading into Old & New Testament readings, along with readings from the Psalms. Such a plan appealed to me, but it had too much Old Testament reading for my liking.

It was at this point that I remembered my why and an underlying goal showed itself. Not only did I want to read the Bible, I also wanted to understand it. This is when lightbulbs started coming on. What if I had a plan that helped me understand the big picture of the Bible? So, I looked into chronological Bible reading plans which fit the books of the Bible together like a puzzle.

I was headed in the right direction, but I needed to remix it to fit my needs. Most chronological plans had the same issue of starting in the Old Testament before moving to the New. Yet, there was something I liked about M’Cheyne’s plan: it had daily readings from both Testaments. So, instead of relying on a plan that wouldn’t work for me, I crafted a chronological reading plan that included both Old & New Testament readings each day. So, not only would I get the overarching picture of Scripture in chronological order, but I would always have a New Testament reading to keep me motivated to trudge past the “boring” parts of the Old Testament.

This was the plan I used when I read the Bible in six months and have now used several times over.

What’s Your Plan?

What about your plan? Spend time researching plans and find one that will work for you and what you want to accomplish. Do you want to read everyday? Do you want weekends off or for catching up? Are you okay with reading one Testament at a time? How do you want to read the gospels? These are questions you need to ask as you search for your right plan.

If you want to give my plan a try, I’ve made it available for download at the end of this tip.

Don’t Do It By Yourself

If you want to read the Bible in a year, another important factor for success is accountability. It’s easy to have a goal, a reason why, and even a plan; but, if you don’t keep yourself accountable to work the plan it means nothing. Therefore, you need to find ways to keep focused on your goal.

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. He used a calendar to keep him on task, marking an X on the calendar for every day he wrote a joke. That visual reminder made it easy to see how long he’d kept his streak going, which motivated him to not break it.

For me, accountability took the form of my phone’s calendar app and incessant reminders. My phone is always with me and I use the calendar often, so it made sense. This setup gave me a daily visual reminder of what I needed to get done.

What does accountability look like for you?

It could be something similar to myself or Seinfeld, or it could be something altogether different. Maybe you’ll take advantage of YouVersion’s Bible app and its ability to post to social media that you’ve completed the day’s reading. I mean, who wants to be the person that read their Bible for 139 of 365 days and have it there for all the world to see? Or maybe you have a spouse or friend who can keep you accountable. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s reliable and something you cannot ignore.

Put the Plan into Action

If you want to read the Bible in a year, there’s one more thing you have to do. This isn’t a secret, but you have to get out there and do the work. But, there is one piece of advice I will share: you don’t have to wait until January to start. 

So many people make New Year’s resolutions, and many of them fall by the wayside come February. If history is any indication, January is probably the least opportune time to kick off a Bible reading plan. It’s too easy for it to get caught up in your other resolutions. Instead, if you know your why and have a plan and accountability in place, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start today.

When I read the Bible in six months I started in the Fall. If I had waited until January I would have lost my motivation and it would’ve been another failed year. So, whenever you’re ready, just do it! Even if you start in December, you will still read through the Bible in a year, it’ll just be from December to November instead of a calendar year.

To read the Bible in a year you need 3 things: 1) a reason why, 2) a plan, and 3) accountability Share on X

Additional Tools to Help You Reach Your Goal

You now have everything you need to successfully read the Bible in a year; but, here are some additional tools and thoughts I’d like you to consider.

Audio Bibles

A lot of people today prefer listening to books instead of reading them. If that’s you, one thing you can do to make it easier to stay on top of your Bible reading is to accompany it with an audio Bible.

Find an audio Bible in your preferred Bible translation and play it as you follow along with the day’s reading. Both Olive Tree and YouVersion have audio Bibles that make this process a breeze.

My wife has found herself doing this very thing recently. She has come to enjoy it and now gets a lot more out of her daily reading. It also keeps her focused while she’s reading.

Keep a Journal

How often do you read the Bible and walk away asking yourself, “What did I just read?” That has happened to me more times than I care to admit. One way to alleviate this problem and to get more out of your Bible reading is to keep a journal. You can do something as simple as a H.E.A.R. journal or go even simpler by writing a quick summary of what you’ve read.

Another alternative is to blog about your Bible reading. I’ve known some people who’ve done this and used the public pressure of their blog to keep them accountable. If you’re someone who likes to write and has a bit more free time this is a great option to keep you on track.

Read with Friends

Another option is reading the Bible with a friend. When you read the Bible with others you have immediate accountability. Plus you get someone you can discuss Scripture with. Discipleship groups are a great avenue where something like this can take place, as you all read through the same plan together. You can even journal and share what God is speaking to you through his Word.

YouVersion has a feature in their Bible app that is perfect for this scenario, it lets you to do reading plans as a group. It even allows you to see who has not done the day’s reading, which also boosts the accountability factor.

Foundations 260

One of the problems people have with reading through the Bible in a year is that it means reading anywhere from 3 to 5 chapters a day. This is fine when the chapters are short, but some chapters are unbearably long. Psalm 119 anyone?! This reading load causes most people to give up, especially when they inevitably get behind a day or two which means doubling or tripling up on their daily reading.

Replicate Ministries created a solution to this problem called the Foundations 260 reading plan. With this plan you read, on average, 2 chapters a day, 5 days a week. You still read Genesis to Revelation, but do so in a way that skips over some of the less important details. The goal of this plan is to get you familiar with the entire narrative of Scripture without getting bogged down, even if you fall behind a little bit.

No, you don’t read every single verse with this plan, but you will still read a vast majority of the Bible while also walking away with a better grasp of it.

Make This Year a Success

Are you ready to finally be one of the handful of Christians who can say they’ve read through the Bible? What’s your why that will keep you motivated throughout the year and what plan will you be using? Leave a comment below & let me know.

As a gift, I want to share my chronological 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 so you can use it in a way that works for you. If you use them, I’d love to hear from you.

Weekly Study Prompts

This week, meditate and journal on the following passages:

  • Monday – Colossians 1-2
  • Tuesday – Colossians 3-4
  • Wednesday – Ephesians 1-2
  • Thursday – Ephesians 3-4
  • Friday – Ephesians 5-6
  • Memory Verses: Ephesians 2:8-10; Colossians 2:6-7

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