I was in high school when I first read through the entire Bible for myself. Having grown up in church, I thought I already knew a lot about the Bible. When I told my youth pastor about my quest to read the Bible in one year, he warned me that getting through some of the Old Testament books would be a challenge. He urged me as I read to look for the ways the Old Testament stories pointed to Jesus. His advice proved invaluable as I worked my way through Deuteronomy and Leviticus.
That year, I learned more reading the Bible for myself than I did in 15+ years of church and Sunday School. (Let’s just say the Sunday school stories leave a lot out!)
Since then, I’ve read through the Bible numerous times. With every reading, I discover something new and wonder how I missed it all those previous times. That’s the thing about the Bible. It seems that no matter how many times you read it, there’s always something new to uncover.
I’m reading through the entire Bible again this year. I recently downloaded the Bible Gateway App for my phone. Bible Gateway has been my favorite Bible website for years, and I was excited to discover they had an app.
Within the Bible Gateway App, you can choose from a variety of reading plans – Old and New Testament together, chronological, cover to cover, to name a few. No need to worry that it’s mid-January (already!). You can pick any start date and even set a daily reminder. I’ve set my reminder for the same time as my alarm clock. If you don’t want to read on a mobile device, check out this page of devotionals and reading plans from Bible Gateway. You can have the readings sent to your e-mail.
Here are 6 helpful tips I’ve found when reading through the whole Bible:
1. Set aside 20 minutes every day.
While it seems like a monumental task to read the whole Bible in a year, you typically read just 3-4 chapters a day. If possible, read at the same time every day. A regular routine will help you stay on track.
2. Start every reading by asking God to open your eyes and heart.
Even as someone who grew up in the church there’s still a lot in the Bible I don’t understand. When we ask God to open our eyes to see how this applies to us today, He does.
3. Read for the big picture.
You can spend a year studying just one book of the Bible. When you read through the whole Bible in a year, you have the opportunity to get a broad overview of the whole story and you’ll begin to see how it all fits together. If you don’t understand things, that’s ok. Just keep reading.
4. Look for how the Old Testament stories point to Jesus.
I still follow my youth pastor’s advice. In fact, pick up a copy of the Jesus Storybook Bible. It’s beautifully written and can be a great companion as you read through the Old Testament stories, Sally Lloyd Jones did a beautiful job in the Old Testament stories revealing how they all point to Jesus.
5. Listen to it on audio.
One advantage of Bible apps is that you have the option to listen to the Bible readings. I’ve listened to the Bible while running on the treadmill, driving in the car, folding laundry…
6. Read in different translations.
With a Bible app, you can switch which translation you read with just a tap of your finger. I usually read in NIV (New International Version) or ESV (English Standard Version). If you find the language challenging, try the MSG (Message Version). Another one of my favorites is NASB (New American Standard Bible). A Bible professor once explained the NASB is bad English, but it’s good Hebrew and Greek. The AMP version (Amplified) will take various words and expand the explanation in brackets. Try reading a translation you’ve never read before. I’ve found reading in various translations helps me see the stories in new light.
If you don’t make it through the whole Bible in a year, but you read even just half of it on your own, that’s still a great thing. Just don’t quit!
Have you ever read through the Bible in a year? What’s something surprising you’ve discovered as you’ve read through the Bible for yourself? If you’ve never read through the whole Bible, consider joining me! It’s not too late to start. Leave a comment and we can encourage each other!