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Read through the Bible in a Year

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Read through the Bible in a year

Have you ever read through the Bible in a year?  It’s a great way to become familiar with the word!  This post will look a few ways to read through the Bible in a year, whether you’ve never done it before or whether you have done it many times over.

Why should you read through the Bible in a year?

The Bible is one of the ways God communicates with us.  Since He was good enough to give us this gift, we should show our gratitude by being familiar with what it says.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness.

II Timothy 3:16

The word for “given by inspiration of God” (theopneustos) means divinely breathed.  What a fantastic gift to give us!

Just this one scripture tells you why the scriptures are valuable to us.  By the way, when it says “all scripture,” Paul (the author of the book of Timothy) is actually referring to what we call the Old Testament, but I think since the New Testament was canonized, we can include the New Testament as well in the phrase “all scripture.”

Inspired plus

What else does just this one scripture tell us?

  1. That scriptures are profitable for us – that is, they are GOOD for us.
  2. That we can learn “doctrine”. Doctrine generally means teaching or instruction.  Remember, the books of Timothy were written in Greek.  There’s a lot of instruction in the Book.
  3. For “reproof” – I had to check on this word because in modern English it sounds like the same thing as correction, but it’s not.  It really means “evidence” or “proof” – so when we are profited for reproof, it means we look at the evidence and we can be convinced. God is making his case with the scriptures
  4. For correction—this one is as it sounds – scripture can help straighten us out when we are wrong.
  5. And for instruction in righteousness – also as it sounds.

These are wonderful things for us. So we should read or listen to the words in the Book.

Reading through the Bible in a year is one way to get these scriptures into your heart.

What if I can’t finish it in a year?

Just because it seems like a big task, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tackle it.  Just take smaller pieces.  That’s actually why I like the idea of “Bible in a year” because it helps me to shoot for a goal that can be broken down into small pieces.


I started reading through the Bible in a year around the 90’s.  But some years took longer than others.  Like Joshua’s long day.  Hee hee.

Seriously, some years have other priorities (think small children and complete brain fog, though there are ways to get around that – like a quiet CD player while you rock a child back to sleep).  Even if some of those “years” took me 3 years to finish all the books in the Bible, it was still worth it.

In fact, I like keeping track of which books have been finished because you don’t want to go 6 years and then realize you never read Job the whole time. Reading systematically through the whole Bible means you get the whole picture.  Remember Paul said ALL scripture, not just the easy to read parts.

Anyway, I can get through the Bible in a year pretty consistently now.  I’ve probably read the whole thing more than 20 times. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Do I have to go in order?

The first time I tried to read through the Bible, I was going to read straight through. I got to Numbers and couldn’t stay awake no matter what I did. And I gave up. And didn’t try again for a few years.

The key is to make a plan where you will succeed.  I didn’t have a plan – just a vague idea that I should read the whole thing.

Make a plan

Make a plan for reading and plan your for your success.  You have to know yourself a bit.  What motivates you?  I never tried chocolate, but I would give that a shot if I was having motivation issues! 

I used to just make some kind of a checklist to keep track. You see, I love checklists.  Sometimes I write stuff on my planner that I’ve just completed so that I can check it off. Seeing it done makes me happy.  Silly, right? But still, it works for me. And what really ended up working best for me is not exactly a checklist, but in a way it is. 

If you’d like a simple checklist, download my free Read through the Bible Checklist.

Get the Read through the Bible Checklist

My new modified hand-drawn “checklist”

I actually got this idea from Rose’s Book of Charts.  They had an illustration of all the books of the Bible stacked on a bookshelf. I loved it!  I use a dot journal for my planner, and all the dot journal people are into making trackers for everything – a page where you keep track of whatever habit you are trying to maintain.  So I thought “What a cute tracker that Bible Book Shelf would make!”

And I’ve been drawing my own Bible Bookshelf for several years now.  And I fill it up differently each year.

I like to keep it fresh, so I usually try a different order to read the books in each year.

This year’s Bible Book Shelf in my dot journal.

Last year’s Book Shelf filled in.

Here are some ideas for which order to read the books in

First, decide if you like to finish one book before starting another or if you prefer having multiple books going at the same time.

I’ve tried it both ways.  They both have pluses and minuses.  Just keep reading—that’s the important part.

Some orders you might consider:

  • Cover to cover in the King James order
  • Cover to cover in the original bible order
  • Alternating  OT, NT
  • Dividing the books into groups (Torah, Prophets, Writings, Gospels, Acts, Letters of Paul, General Epistles, and Revelation) and selecting from each one at a time.
  • Chronologically from date of writing (beware – you can get bogged down in disputes this way!)
  • More or less chronologically from the contents (you have to make some generalizations with books like Psalms since it had more than one author.)
  • Biblically-Seasonally (I like to read Deuteronomy in the fall when it was traditionally read at the Feast of Tabernacles every seven years or I read Exodus and John around Passover time.)
  • Following the Torah reading portion and the NT Parasha readings
  • Thematically
  • Alternating longest books with shortest books

I actually like to pick a theme for the year regardless of the order. For instance, select something like “gratitude”.  And when you read through the Bible this time, you see more instances of gratitude than you had the year you read through and your theme was “the heart”.  Pray or meditate on your theme and the scriptures you’ve been reading throughout the year.

Themes to try sometime

  • Love
  • Fruit of the spirit
  • Peace
  • Women in the Bible
  • Hesed
  • “You will be my people, I will be your God”
  • Messianic references

There are so many ideas. Have fun with it. 

How do I know if I am on schedule?

Will I finish more-or-less in a year?

Here is a rough guideline:

There are 66 books of the Bible.  12 months in a year.  66 divided by 12 is 5.5 books per month you would have to read to stay on track.

But some books are much longer than others.  If you choose to read Jude, I, II and III John and Philemon in one month, just be aware that you are setting yourself up for having to read Psalms, Job, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah that last month!  And if you are thinking, “OK, I can do 5 books a month,” well, you’d be short 6 books at the end of the year, so you better hope it’s a year with an extra month in it!

You can also divide the reading by number of pages in your Bible.  My Bible has 2335 pages. That would be about 6½ pages per day.

But I don’t go for exact like that.  I like the flexibility of just reading more or less 5 books per month.  I don’t get hung up about it.  Which is good, because I go through phases where I will read nothing but Bible and then I pause for a bit. I’m in a pause at the moment – I’m probably averaging around 4 books a month, but I’m reading some big books concurrently. I don’t feel behind! 

You should arrange it so you don’t feel like you ever get “behind”.  That can be too discouraging and make you give up.  Remember, you want to read the book continually.  I use the “Read through the Bible in a Year” plans as a guideline to make sure everything gets read semi-regularly.  Some years, I’ve read certain (shorter) books more than once if they happen to come up in Bible study group.

Big list of reading plans

Many sites offer complete read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plans.  These are helpful if it’s your first time reading through because you don’t have to think about what to read – it’s all done for you. Just be sure you never feel like it is a chore rather than a blessing.

For a supplement to reading your Bible, you can also memorize scripture. Read the article to get the free memory scripture printable at the bottom. Have fun!

Free Memory Scripture

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