When I was in college I took two classes that changed my life: Introduction to the Old Testament and Introduction to the New Testament.
The instruction may have been good, but what changed my life were the reading assignments. These classes included assignments to read the Old and New Testaments respectively. Although (having grown up in the church) I assumed that I’d already read through them both at some point, I took the professors up on the challenge and diligently read the Old and New Testaments again. What I found was surprising:
- There was definitely material I’d missed before.
- Reading the books of the Bible in sequence was eye-opening. It gave me a much better understanding of the broad sweep of the Bible, which in turn helped me better appreciate individual passages of the Bible when I encountered them.
I needed the specter of a grade hovering over me to get through the entire Bible that first time. Reading any work of a certain length is a commitment. No matter how fast you read, you’re not going to fit it all into a lazy Saturday. In fact, the Bible resists speed reading: it’s a book to be savored and dwelled upon.
Are you convinced that the Bible is worth reading, but not sure if you can commit to such a project? Great! Here are a few suggestions for how to go about working your way through the entire Bible:
1. Follow a Bible reading plan. A Bible reading plan divides the text of the Bible into manageable daily readings over a certain period of time (usually a year) and is very helpful for keeping on track. Bible Gateway offers a number of Bible reading plans, both online or via email. I recommend signing up for an email Bible reading plan—you’ll receive an email every morning containing exactly what you should read that day. If reading through the entire Bible seems like too much, take a look at our New Testament-only plan, which will walk you through the life and ministry of Jesus and his early followers.
2. Find a copy of the Bible specifically organized for reading throughout the year. Many such Bibles are available. One you might start with is the Once a Day Bible; I know people who use Bibles like this regularly and who find the process of going through the Bible once a year to be a great structure to their lives.
3. Find a friend (or a group of friends) to read with. You could make it a formal weekly or monthly Bible study where you meet to encourage and urge each other on, or just informally keep each other notified of your progress. Having someone with whom to discuss what you’re reading is hugely helpful for both processing what you’re reading and for keeping you motivated.
4. Ask your pastor for advice. I don’t know your pastor, but I’d be willing to bet that if you asked them for advice on how to read through the Bible they would bend over backwards to find ways to help you.
5. Listen through the Bible during your commute. Depending on your commute, this might take longer than a year (hopefully not much less!). Fire up one of the audio Bibles on Bible Gateway on your smartphone, or acquire a physical/digital version for your portable music device. Listen to the Bible as you go to and from work over the course of the year.