Every January, Christian media overflows with Bible reading plans and exhortations to read through the Bible this year. You won’t get that kind of pressure from me. In fact, I gave up my Bible reading plan last year, and I’ve been known to encourage my readers to quit studying the Bible.
I’m a passionate proponent of Bible reading, but giving up my 2-year Bible reading plan has deepened my knowledge of and relationship with Jesus Christ. It helped me to truly delight in God’s Word.
The Purpose of Bible Reading
No time in God’s Word is ever wasted, but I think the effectiveness of our Bible reading can vary. To experience maximum effects, we must understand the purpose of Bible reading. Why do you read your Bible?
For most of my life, my tendency has been to read the Bible daily out of a sense of duty and a determination to “be a good Christian”. I read my Bible because I knew I should. And those decades of dutiful Bible reading served me well. I don’t regret them for a moment.
But the real value of reading the Bible is knowing God. The more we know Him, the more we love Him and become like Him and, therefore, glorify Him. And that’s the reason He created us in the first place!
We don’t read the Bible merely for information. The ultimate goal is transformation—from the inside out—through an active, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Knowing God’s Word Deep & Wide
Reading through the Bible in its entirety—both Old and New Testaments—is important, and here are 3 reasons why:
- The whole Bible is beneficial: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable (2 Timothy 3:16a, ESV)…”
- The whole Bible gives us examples to learn from: “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:11)…”
- The whole Bible instructs us & gives us hope: “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).”
Reading through the whole Bible gives us a “big picture” view of God’s story of redemption throughout the ages as described in His Word. When we read all 66 books contained within the canon of Scripture, we notice life-giving connections and themes that enrich our understanding and knowledge of God.
All that is to say that I firmly believe in the value of reading through the whole Bible.
However, I rarely read through the whole Bible in a year, and I rarely recommend a Bible-in-a-year reading plan to others. In my experience, it’s too much for many people and it quickly becomes a drudgery or a duty instead of a delight.
What happens to me when I try a one-year Bible reading plan is that, by the time I get to Leviticus or the Prophets, my reading has become about checking off the box for the day, and I fail to absorb the rich truths contained within the words.
There is tremendous value in knowing the Bible both deep and wide. We need both. So, my preferred method of reading and studying God’s Word is to take it slow.
Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4, ESV).” God’s Word is our spiritual food, necessary for a thriving life in Christ. As with physical food, we must digest it to benefit from its nourishment. And digestion takes time.
I’ve found that—for me—reading through the whole Bible in a year is like taking a quick stroll past the buffet table. It’s appealing. It tantalizes my tastebuds. And it leaves me longing for more.
I want to stop and take a bite and actually enjoy the delightful morsels available for the taking. But that requires a pause. I must stop walking and take some time to be still if I’m going to indulge in the feast. And when I do this too many times, or when I stop and snack for too long, I fall behind and realize I won’t get to the rest of the buffet in time.
Let me clarify: There is nothing wrong with reading through the whole Bible in a year. If that works for you, I’m thrilled and rejoice with you and wholeheartedly encourage you to continue that practice! But I’ve accepted the fact that it’s not the best option for me if I want to truly delight in God’s Word—to be transformed by it and to know Jesus more.
How to Eat Your Bible
If you want to know Jesus and His Word, I highly recommend reading the book How to Eat Your Bible: A Simple Approach to Learning and Loving the Word of God by Nate Pickowicz (Amazon.ca | Amazon.com)*. In only 135 pages, you get a quick, practical guide to delighting in and digesting God’s Word.
How to Eat Your Bible teaches a simple way to:
- read the Bible to learn what it says,
- study the Bible to understand what it means, and
- use the Bible to accurately apply it to your life.
The message of this book parallels the heart behind my own content—learning to love God’s Word and live it out. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book.
“Learning to love God’s Word is not just possible, it’s doable.” (p.26)
“Every newborn must learn how to eat in order to stay alive for a lifetime. As spiritually reborn people, we must also learn how to eat spiritual food (1 Peter 2:1-3) in order to endure until we are called home to be with the Lord. Therefore, we must learn to eat our Bibles.” (p. 35)
“Contrary to the popular sentiment that the Bible is an ‘instruction manual for life’ or the like, the Bible was given to us so that we could come to know God and learn how we might be reconciled to Him. Therefore, the Scriptures teach us all we need to know about God. After all, Jesus prayed, ‘This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’ (John 17:3). We are meant to know God.” (p. 104)
“Make your end goal not merely to read the Bible but to know and understand it—to love and treasure it as God’s holy, sufficient, transforming Word.” (p. 30)
A Bible Reading Plan to Delight in God’s Word
In How to Eat Your Bible, Nate Pickowicz details his own approach to reading through and studying the whole Bible. He calls it “The Seven Year Bible Plan”, but he admits it took him longer than seven years.
The idea behind the plan is to truly know and understand the whole Bible. It’s reading more for depth than for breadth each day, but over time, your knowledge and understanding of the Bible will encompass the whole book, from Genesis to Revelation.
This plan works for me because it allows me to dig deeper and go at my own pace. It’s flexible. You choose one book of the Bible at a time, then simply read through it 15-30 times (depending on the length of the book), regardless of how long it takes. If you want to stop and study deeper, you have the freedom to do so without “falling behind”.
Psalm 1:1-3 assures us that delighting in God’s Word leads to a blessed life. Pickowicz’s approach to Bible reading promotes my delight in God’s Word by giving me permission to take as much time as I need to digest the tasty morsels I discover each day.
But perhaps the most valuable aspect of this approach is the shift in perspective. Instead of focusing on getting through a specific passage on a specific day, or trying to “get through” the whole Bible by December 31st, the emphasis is on knowing God through His Word.
Read Your Bible This Year
How will you read your Bible this year? Despite my own reluctance to commit to a Bible-in-a-year plan, I do recommend having a plan. A plan keeps us accountable and ensures that we read beyond our favorite passages. It can keep us focused and motivated.
There’s no “wrong” Bible reading plan because no time in God’s Word is ever wasted. The best Bible reading plan is the one that gets you reading the Bible! If you’re not using a Bible reading plan, or if the one you started isn’t working well for you, here’s a roundup of 5 unique Bible reading plans to explore.
- A Guilt-Free Bible Reading Plan: No calendar. No schedule. No timeline. Just a simple way of keeping track of your Bible reading at your own pace.
- A Bible Reading Plan for People Who Hate Bible Reading Plans: A foolproof plan that’s manageable and leads you to a greater understanding of God’s Word.
- The Galilean Voice in the Psalms: Mark Loughridge shared a new method he’s using in reading through the Psalms. It’s beautiful and something I’m incorporating into my own daily Bible reading.
- My Bible Reading Plan Library: My “Worthy Words” email subscribers have access to a library of 12 topical reading plans. If you need something very simple and short, this might be for you. They’re designed to help you go deeper without being overwhelmed.
- The Bible Reading Plan Generator: You can create a custom plan by making selections with a few clicks of your mouse and voila! The computer generates a plan tailored to your needs!
One more thing: If sitting down to read your Bible is challenging for you due to your current season of life or physical limitations—or if you want to supplement your daily Bible reading—consider subscribing to Dwell so you can listen to the Bible wherever you are.
What’s your favorite Bible reading plan? How do you guard against reading the Bible strictly out of duty? In what ways do you ensure you’re truly delighting in God’s Word?
*This page contains Amazon and Dwell affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission from any purchase you make through these links. This doesn’t add to your purchase price, but it helps to offset the costs of running this website.