I became a Christian when I was 17 years old. I don’t remember exactly where I started in my old King James Bible, but I do remember that inductive Bible study – studying the context, meaning, and application verse by verse – caught my interest almost immediately. Books that I had grown up hearing a thousand times came to life for the first time. In college I spent hours on the fourth floor of Illinois State’s Milner Library pouring over the minor prophets. I listened to Matt Chandler preach through Habakkuk and my life and Bible study methods were never the same again.
Life may have changed alot since I was that 22 year old single college student, but one thing has not. I love studying the Bible book by book, piece by piece, bit by bit. My life goal is to have studied every book of the Bible inductively. You might be surprised that the person linking many “Read Through the Bible in a Year Plans” has never actually done one and probably never will.
For me, reading through the Bible in a year overwhelms me before I begin. Several chapters a day, every day, even with catch up days, is often unrealistic for a stay at home mom with 3 littles if my purpose is to do more than just read, but also to meditate and study.
I don’t want to just read the stories of the judges, I want to know WHY they are there. I want to know how these stories are pointing to Jesus, the Greater Judge. I want to know why the genealogies are placed so strategically in the text and how these people are chosen to be part of the line that leads to the Messiah. I want to read the chapter and have the time to see the repeating words, the phrases that speak of what God is doing, and seeing the many themes like blessing/ cursing, eating/ drinking, the Sabbath, and many others repeated over and over again. I want to know the whole story, but mostly I want to know the story well and accurately, so that my heart can be transformed.
And so I slow down. Every year I’ve begun to make a Bible reading plan, tailored to life in the season I’m currently in. I take time to write down the books I want to study next year and any resources I might use to help me. Some years I try to envision how the entire year might look (see my 2021 plan below), and others (like the year we had 3 kids 3 and under) I only listed a few books I wanted to get through.
2021 Bible Reading Plan
Old Testament Storyline & The Story of the Church (Acts)
Life Goal: Study every book of the Bible inductively
(January) Finish 1 Samuel (11 Week Study) + Psalms/ Proverbs
(February-March) 2 Samuel (11 Week Study) + Psalms/ Proverbs
(April)– Start Easter Readings | Begin Acts as a family
(June)– 1 Kings + Psalms/ Proverbs
(July)– 2 Kings + Psalms/ Proverbs
(August)- Ezra/ Nehemiah + Psalms/ Proverbs
(September)– 1 Chronicles + Psalms/ Proverbs
(October)– 2 Chronicles + Psalms/ Proverbs
(November)– Esther + Psalms/ Proverbs
(December)– Advent Study + Psalms/ Proverbs
There’s no magical number of books you need to study, or how long it should take you. Some years I only got through 3-4 and others like this (when my kids are finally sleeping all night!) I hope to get through as many as 10. Any books I’m not able to get through will roll over into the next year (2022). I hope these suggestions help you!
- Choose 3-5 books you want to study. If you have never studied a book inductively (verse by verse) see my resource page (coming January 2021) for places to start.
- Challenge yourself to have a varied list. It should include books from BOTH the Old and New Testament. If you read mostly the New Testament this year, make your focus more of the Old Testament.
- Don’t be focused on timelines. Choose a book to start studying and whenever you’ve finished move on to the next. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you! The benefits of having a list prepared ahead of time is you don’t waste time wondering where you should read/ study next. You’ve already decided!
- Incorporate quick reads or weekend studies. Having a study plan doesn’t mean these are the only places you’ll read! I will often do a quick read of other books of the Bible during the weekend or on a day when I need a break from my current study. These are great times to read through one of the epistles (it really will only take you a few minutes!) or the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). I also pair Psalms and Proverb readings with whatever book of the Bible I’m studying.
- Keep track of your progress and record when you’ve finished. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but you should evaluate every month how you’re doing. Is it taking 20 weeks to do an 11 week study of a book? While timelines aren’t the most important, you also might need to re-think your plan. I suggest writing down each book you’ve studied in a journal so that at the end of the year you can look back and see what you’ve finished. I’ve personally started using the Growth Roots Journal which has a section for recording this.
I’d love to hear from you!
Do you make a Bible reading plan or want help doing so? I would love to help you get started!
“If reading the Bible can be compared to cruising the width of a clear, sparkling lake in a motorboat, studying the Bible is like slowly crossing that same lake in a glass-bottomed boat. In order to truly understand the fullness of meaning of any written work, in-depth study must be done.” (Donald Whitney)