Don’t Read Your Bible Through This Year (Do This Instead)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

7 thoughts on “Don’t Read Your Bible Through This Year (Do This Instead)”

  1. I agree with all you wrote. That ‘being said’ I am in the process of reading through in a year and am at the 70% done level. I had tried a couple times before in years gone by but I find reason number 5 to be very true. The reason I am making one more attempt is probably mostly vain on my part, but having been asked once or twice ‘have you read the Bible’, I wanted to be able to answer honestly. I pretty much assumed over time I had managed to ‘read’ the whole Bible, but never kept track for sure. So, I agree with your post completely but do not intend to give up the quest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a good idea, I have been reading the Bible through for about five years but I have a hard time choosing a good plan to keep my interest. So do you have any ideas for sections for me to study I need a plan and a schedule or deadline or I won’t do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you send me your email address through my contact page, I can send you my short letters of Paul study. Depending on how long the letter, I’d be sending them about every 5-7 weeks. Obviously the shorter the letter the less time between studies. But they have a scheduled reading/study plan with questions and notes.

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  3. I love your insight and perspective. You always make me think. As a BSF student, I appreciate your 2019 approach.

    I did want to take a minute to reflect upon why I (still) love reading the Bible straight through whether 90 days, 120 days, or 1 year:

    1. It gives me an opportunity to see the entire story from beginning to end in a short period of time.
    2. I can easily get focused on 3-5 teachings in God’s Word and be distracted from the overarching narrative. “How thrilling to discover that every element of scripture—the reports of events, the verses of distilled wisdom, the lyrical prophecies—converge in one central saga of one worthy Person.” Hawthorne
    3. The results have been massively helpful for both my walk with the Lord and the work he has given me. It seems as if I am always in a particular chapter at a particular strategic time during the year. 🤔
    4. Reading through the Bible helps me remember the overarching metanarrative of Scripture.
    5. It does not replace my study time but it does replace “non-eternal” activities that I would most likely spend in liu of reading.
    6. It causes me to fall deeper and deeper in love with the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirt. 🙏

    It is interesting that so many of the “great” theologians, missiologist, missionaries, and pastors were quite often “heavenly sandpaper” with lots of rough edges. I sometimes wonder about that paradox?

    Years ago, I did struggle with defeat and guilt of following through on my reading but through prayer the Lord released those thoughts and I love reading through His Word even if it takes 120 days instead of 90 or 16 months instead of 12. ❤️

    I once heard a persecuted Christian speaker say that if I were held captive in isolation – I would be grateful for every minute that I had previously spent in God’s Word before my imprisonment. ❤️

    P.S – This year – I am actually listening through the Bible. So far so fruitful and grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

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