Five Bible Reading Plans (And How to Finish Them)

Basic Theology, Christian Life & Theology

I’m writing this at the turn of the new year, when many of us begin thinking about a Bible reading plan for the next twelve months. I personally use the last week of December to plan my study focus for the next year along with my annual goals. However, there is no bad time to choose a reading plan! You don’t need a new year to adapt your study, and you can quit a reading plan that isn’t serving you anytime. Read that again!

In fact – and I was going to save this for when I share tips for finishing your reading plans, but hey, let’s talk about it now – one of the keys to consistent bible study is flexibility. If you can’t complete the daily readings on a consistent basis, the chapter chunks might be too big for your season. You can quit the plan. Maybe the readings aren’t unachievable but you fall behind by a few days – you don’t have to catch up. Just start on that day’s reading.

This flexibility is how I’ve been able to read through the Bible every year for almost-five years (I say almost-five because halfway through this year, I quit my plan and focused on in-depth study of individual books – practicing what I preach!).

This post details five different reading plan options. Each one achieves something different but also the same: a robust understanding of Scripture based on the actual text, not just secondhand knowledge. If you are used to using devotionals and structured bible studies, congratulations! Moving on to personal inductive study is an awesome next step!

Following are the plans. Choose what works best for you, but don’t be afraid to revisit it in a few months if it’s not working. Remember: the goal is to seek the Lord, not to follow a plan legalistically.

 

Two-Year Whole Bible Plan + Psalms and Proverbs

This was the plan I did this year (for half of it), and if I hadn’t focused on individual books I definitely would have continued! I love that it is stretched out over two years rather than one (smaller portions) and that you go through Psalms/Proverbs four times during those years.

Chronological Bible Reading Plan

This reading plan will take you through the entire Bible in the order the events occurred. Wonder why the books of the Bible aren’t in chronological order? Listen to the canon series of the podcast.

One of the perks of a chronological plan is how it makes sense of the timing of the Old Testament exiles. This can be very confusing and a roadblock to fully understanding the major and minor prophets, as well as the historical books. With this plan you’ll have the prophets and historical books staggered according to when the events happened. This was my plan of choice for several years!

5-Day a Week Whole Bible Plan

I found this reading plan through Tim Challies, and it’s what I will be doing this year. I love that it pulls from different parts of the Bible daily, varying the content and genre of the day’s reading and allowing for both “familiarity and intimacy”, as he puts it!

One of the perks of a five-day plan is the flexibility – if you miss a few days, you have that time as a “slush fund” to catch up.

The M’Cheyne Reading Plan

I’m linking Don Carson’s two year version of this 19th century pastor’s plan. With this plan you’ll read four chapters a day, going through the Old Testament once, and the NT and Psalms two times.

The “Loose” Legacy Plan

This is actually just the Legacy plan from Equip.org, but I add “loose” because I think it’s one of the most flexible plans. Instead of daily readings, you have assigned books for each month of the year. This means you can read as many chapters as needed to finish them within the 30 days. You can read more one day, less another. For those who want a LOT of flexibility, this could be a good choice!

Need help with how to actually study the readings? Read this post and this one. 

Tips for Finishing Your Reading Plan

My biggest tip is the one I already shared: be flexible. Becoming rigid or legalistic about the Bible is a sure-fire way to stop enjoying it – and to miss the point completely, which is intimacy with the Lord! So if you miss a day, and it’s too much to catch up, just move on to the current passage. Read back a few lines if you need context, but don’t beat yourself up about it. Understanding the Word is a lifelong journey. I hope you’ll read through the Bible more than once in your lifetime, and if you do, you’ll read those missed passages again in the future.

Secondly, don’t try to break down the entire 3-4 chapters during your note taking and inductive study. I mean, you can if you want, but that could take two hours, and most of us have 30-60 minutes. I choose a portion of my reading to deep dive into, using my commentaries, study bible, and other resources.

Third, get accountability! Do your reading plan with a friend. My friend Sara Hagerty studies ONE book of the Bible all year with a close friend. She does a deep dive for all twelve months and has a companion to do it with her. Who could you ask?

Lastly, change up your reading method. One day, listen to it on audio (the Bible app has free audio). The next, read it in a different version. Next, read it from a study bible and follow all the cross references. Use a chapter-and-verse-less reading Bible for a different experience. There are so many ways you can change it up, and something new stands out every time. As always, I highly recommend taking notes and extensively underlining in the text itself – it helps your brain connect to and process the information. Bibles are meant to be loved!

I hope these tips were helpful and you find a plan that suits your needs. If you need more help in study, grab my ebook on bible study in the shop.