Sitting in the glow of our Christmas tree, I turn in my Bible to the book of Job to read three chapters, then I read a psalm, and then I turn to the book of Revelation for one chapter. These are the familiar passages of Scripture with which I close each year: the greatness and majesty of our God, the joy of praising him, and his final victory in the culmination of his covenantal plan for his Bride, the Church. After spending the year reading through the Bible with all of humanity’s ups and downs—mostly downs—and the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord on display throughout, my heart overflows. The first week of January I’ll turn back to the opening chapters of Genesis and begin again.

As idyllic as that may sound, I assure you that the discipline to follow through with a Bible reading plan does not come easily for me. January is often my best month. But as responsibilities with family and ministry mount, and the occasional vacation or unexpected life-event happen, it’s easy for the reading to fall off schedule. That’s often the case, isn’t it? Time in God’s Word is so easily neglected, pushed out by the urgencies of the moments of our days, and especially when we need it most!

Why Read the Bible?

I used to think that those Christians who read their entire Bible through in a year must be super-saints. I expected pastors to do that sort of reading as it’s their job to know the Scriptures inside-out. But for normal believers like myself, I figured that kind of immersion in Scripture was an unreasonable expectation and out of reach. The Lord has held me fast for many decades since I thought this way, and whether it’s from wisdom or experience or a bit of both, I’ve learned that super-saints are few and far between. Normal, quietly faithful, saints-without-capes, however, fill the pews in our churches and humbly pursue the disciplines of grace as they walk with the Lord. And one of those disciplines of grace is time spent daily in God’s Word.

Reading through the Bible in a year (or so) is an attainable goal. There are many resources to help, some of which I’ll link to at the end of this article. But why should you set such a goal for yourself? I’ll allow the Apostle Paul to answer:

. . . from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:15–17)

This is but one passage among the multitude which extol the excellencies and benefits of reading God’s Word. The Scriptures make us wise for salvation and are profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. I’m sure you could list off several more passages with even more benefits to regular Bible reading.

Here’s a reason that grabbed my attention recently as I read Psalm 81. It’s so obvious I might have missed it. The Bible, as God’s Word, is a means by which we hear his voice. In church on Sundays, we pray God’s Word, we sing God’s Word, we hear God’s Word preached, and we leave with the benediction from God’s Word echoing in our ears. This corporate endeavor is a glorious weekly basking in the sound, if you will, of God’s voice. And yet if we spend the rest of the days of the week without time in God’s Word the silence may grow deafening. In that deafening silence, we could become hard of hearing. The cacophony of the world and life in general may drown out the still, small voice which brings light and life.

The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1–2a). God’s voice through the prophets, through Jesus, and through the apostles still speaks to us today from every page of our Bibles. In Psalm 81 God’s voice through the pen of the psalmist cries out, “O Israel, if you would but listen to me! . . . Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!” (8b; 13).

Child of God, I encourage you to make time in your daily and weekly routine to take up his Word. Read prayerfully, listening to your Father’s voice, that you may walk in his ways!

Resources to Read the Word this Year

As promised, here are links to several different resources to help you read through the Bible in a year (or so):

Ligonier Ministries has helpfully curated a list of plans, most of them free, which you can find here.

Trillia Newbell’s book, 52 Weeks in the Word; A Companion for Reading Through the Bible in a Year incorporates reading straight through from Genesis to Revelation with journaling space for each day, daily reflection questions, prayer prompts, and a weekly reflection based on the portion of Scripture covered.

Crossway has published a new ESV Chronological Bible which includes a one-year reading plan with each daily reading beginning with a summary and timeline to show how the reading fits into the broader biblical narrative.

D. A. Carson has written two devotionals based on the M’Cheyne Bible-reading schedule, For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word, Volume 1, and For the Love of God-Volume 2. Each volume will guide you through the New Testament and Psalms twice and the rest of the Old Testament once in the course of a year with Carson’s devotional commentary on one of the passages covered each day. You can use one or both of these, depending on how much time you have for reading.

And finally, I will continue to use the Five Day Reading Plan which I discovered years ago and absolutely love. It leads the reader through the Old Testament as closely to chronologically as possible, helpfully interweaving chapters from the Kings, Chronicles, and the prophets according to the order in which they occurred (the book of Job is saved for last since it’s dating is uncertain, and I appreciate having the whole Bible behind me when I tackle that difficult and majestic story). There’s a psalm most days and a chapter from the New Testament each day, with the Gospels spread evenly across the year. I print out the free pdf schedule, fold it and tuck it into my Bible. This plan schedules five days of reading a week, allowing for time to catch up if you miss a day.

One final note: I reserve an unmarked Bible for my daily reading so I won’t be distracted by the plentiful underlines and margin notes in my regular Bible. This helps me to see the text with fresh eyes as I read.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Barbaranne Kelly

Barbaranne Kelly is a reader, writer, retreat speaker, hospitality enthusiast, and blogger at Grateful. She and her husband Jim are members of Christ Presbyterian Church in New Braunfels, Texas where she serves on the women’s ministry team and leads women’s Bible studies. God has blessed Barbaranne and Jim with two sons and three daughters, two sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law, and four delightful grandsons. In all her roles it is Barbaranne’s sincere hope that she and those to whom she ministers may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.