I am not a big fan of reading the Bible through in a year. I’m not exactly sure when or why this has become so popular, but it seems a bit too pretentious to me. I’m not saying everyone who reads their Bible in a year is being pretentious; I’m simply saying that I don’t see the logic behind it other than to say one has done it. I’m going to explain why in a moment and then afterward, I will give what I believe to be a better alternative.
So why do I believe there is no logic behind this? For these 6 reasons:
- Reading the Bible through in a year does not guarantee godliness. I once knew a man who bragged that he read the Bible all the way through for 30 years. Yet, he was one of the most arrogant, self-absorbed, mean-spirited men I have ever met. It literally left me wondering how one could read God’s Word for 30 years in a row and never be affected by it.
- Reading the Bible through in a year does not mean one is godly. This is similar to the previous reason, but a bit different. Christians, old and new, sometimes look at those who read the Bible through in a year as if they are “super-Christians.” Reading the Bible in a year doesn’t mean that at all; it may simply mean that they are super-organized. Remember what James wrote, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only;” we could say “Be doers of the Word and not readers only.” It is the doing, not simply the reading that matters.
- Reading the Bible through in a year is time-consuming. Let’s be honest; it is. For slow readers like myself to read the Bible through in a year would take about 50-60 minutes. Is God worth it? Absolutely, but my next point explains further why I put this one here.
- Reading the Bible through in a year makes it difficult to meditate. Related to the previous point, I find that in order to think thoroughly about what I read, I can’t read as much. But in order to get through the Bible in a single year means I can’t think as deeply as I believe I should or meditate as long as I want because I do not have all day to read through my plan.
- Reading the Bible through in a year can be defeating and guilt-ridding. If a person gets behind in their reading plan by even a day or two, it can seem like an impossible task to catch up. Suddenly one can feel guilty about missing a day or one can give up rather than trying to catch up.
- Reading the Bible through in a year is a tradition of man. This may be the weakest of my arguments; I almost feel like it is, but I know that it is still true. No where do we read anyone in Scripture describe or prescribe the yearly read-through of God’s Holy Word. That means that no one should make another feel like less of a Christian or not as holy as those who do read the Bible through in a year. “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ,” (Colossians 2:8, ESV).
That being said… I decided a few years ago to stop trying and failing to read the Bible through in a year. I’ve done it before, but I got little out of it. Instead, I have developped my method that I continue through to this year. I pick out a section of the Bible and study it. One year I studied the Minor Prophets. I was amazed at what I learned. Hosea came more alive to me than ever before. Jonah stunned me. Haggai (yes! Haggai) was so relevant to Christians today. Last year I went through all the books of John (the Gospel, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Revelation). This year I am going through the short letters of Paul (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st & 2nd Thessalonians, 1st &2nd Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). I am taking one week to study the background to the writing, and then 5 days of the week to study each chapter. The fifth day, I read the entire chapter through and seek to apply it to my life personally. This does take time. Each day is about a 30 minute study (with the possible exception of reading the background). After this time, I spend a equal amount of time in prayer.
Much of the Old Testament can be spent this way. Genesis is 50 chapters long, that’s about one chapter a week. Joshua and Judges combine to make 45 chapters. Ezekiel is 48 chapters. You could even take Matthew (28 chapters) and Luke (24 chapters) making 52 chapters. If we took and combined books so that we slowly go through and study, not just read, a chapter a week, seeking to apply it to our daily lives (thus meditating upon what we’ve studied), I believe we will come out the better than simply reading through in a year.
Let me know your thoughts, though. You may absolutely disagree with me and that is absolutely fine. Let me know why. I’d love some feedback. Feel free to share and like this article on your social media feed. I would much appreciate it.