Having a Bible reading plan will help you along your journey to knowing God and cultivating a strong faith. But how do you know where to start reading in the Bible? What is the best Bible reading plan for you?
If you’re looking for help choosing a bible reading plan, you’re in the right place! In today’s post, I’m going to share two main approaches to selecting a Bible reading plan and help you decide which reading plan is right for you. Plus, I’ll share 5 steps for creating your very own Bible reading plan!
Let’s face it, the Bible is such a large book. As a Christian, you know that regular Scripture intake is vital for Christian growth. It is the means to knowing God, His will for our lives, and so much more. The Bible in fact tells us that our weapon to fight against our enemy is the Word of God.
I know, I know… You’re probably here because you know the importance of Scripture reading. What you may not know is how to read through the bible with consistency, intentionality, and in a way that nurtures your spirit. So let’s talk about that!
My Bible Reading Journey
It was my senior year of high school when my parents bought me a One Year Bible for Christmas. That was the first year I read through the entire Bible. It was exhilarating to read the final page and realize I’d read through all 66 books of the Bible, cover to cover. Wow!
Since then, I’ve read through the Bible many times and I’ve learned the most important key to spending consistent time in God’s word is simple: to have a reading plan.
Why having a Bible reading plan is important
You may wonder, “Can’t I just pick up my Bible and read some random verses every day?”
Well, you could. And you will even reap some benefits from it. But if you want to really receive the benefits of Bible reading, a systematic plan for reading is necessary. Think of it this way: You wouldn’t read a love letter in bits and pieces would you? No, you would read through the entire thing, from start to finish. So it is with Bible reading. The Bible is God’s word to us- so reading it through in some systematic manner is important!
Benefits of a Bible reading plan
If you wanted to go on a vacation to a different city, you probably wouldn’t just hop in your car, and hope you eventually arrived,. You would put your destination into a GPS, or find a map (do they make those any more? lol) and plan the best route.
You COULD try just winging it, following road signs and guessing. And you might eventually get where you wanted to go. But not without a lot of hassle and wrong turns.
As we’ve discussed already, the same goes for Bible reading. Having a Bible reading plan can not only help you know God and His heart for you, but it can help you fulfill your spiritual growth goals as well.
What do you hope to accomplish in your spiritual life? Do you want to understand God’s love better? Understand His heart and will for your life? Grow stronger in your faith? Learn to pray the promises of God? Or how about deal with sin and temptation? Knowing God better and communing with Him through His word are great goals.
When you know what you hope to accomplish, you can choose a plan to help get you there. Just like a road map (or a handy GPS) a Bible reading plan can keep you going in the right direction.
How to choose a Bible reading plan
Not all of us have the same spiritual needs or goals. Also, we all have different lifestyles, responsibilities and time commitments. When you’re ready to choose the best Bible reading plan for you, there are a few things to consider.
How much time do you have to read each day?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend an hour, or even more, reading and studying the Bible every day? As good as it sounds, that just isn’t a reality for most of us. So, when choosing a Bible reading plan, think about how much time you can realistically spend reading every day. Write it down.
What needs are you facing?
Again, think about what you hope to get from your Bible reading. While I don’t always recommend “needs” based reading (because it can be so restrictive, one-sided, and we don’t always know what our needs truly are), identifying your needs and what you hope to accomplish from a Bible reading plan can help you choose a plan that meets some of these immediate needs.
What are your Bible-reading goals?
Your Bible-reading goals are a good thing to consider as well. Do you want to read through your entire Bible? Do you want to study all the Scriptures relating to a particular topic? Or maybe you want to read through a certain portion of Scripture, like the Gospels, or the Psalms. Knowing your goal will help you narrow down the Bible reading plan you need.
The two basic types of Bible reading plans
There are two basic types of Bible-reading plans:
- “Read-through” plans and
- Topical Bible reading plans.
Let’s break those down to see which one you should choose.
Both read-through and topical plans are great but I do advise against ONLY using topical plans. Reading through larger portions of Scripture in context (like entire books) is needed to gain a proper understanding of Scripture. Let’s discuss both of these types of plans, give suggestions for each, and share tips for deciding which one is best for you.
Read-through the Bible reading plans
This type of plan allows you to read through a section of Scripture, a book of Scripture, or even the entire Bible.
Read through plans are great for getting a complete overview of the Bible or part of the Bible. You may choose to read through the Bible in a year, like I did when I was in high school; Or, you may choose to read the Books of the Law, or the Gospels, etc.
Choose this type of Bible reading plan when you are looking to immerse yourself in the Word of God, or you want to really focus on a certain part of Scripture. You can start in Genesis and read through Revelation. Or you may choose to read in chunks, like Psalms in a month, or the New Testament in three months.
Here are some examples of read-through the Bible plans:
One Year Bible–The one year bible reading plan printable typically starts in Genesis and takes you straight through the entire Bible. Others will include a New Testament, Old Testament, Psalm, and Proverb each day. You can choose from a variety of plans!
Chronological Bible–The Bible isn’t actually written in chronological order. With this plan, you’ll follow the timeline of the Bible from beginning to end. This is another great way to read the Bible in a year and might help you get a better sense of how all the stories flow together.
90 Days Through the New Testament–If you’re new to Bible-reading plans, this is a great place to start as it will take you through the entire New Testament in just 3 months.
Daily Audio Bible–An audio bible is a great option if you have a long commute, or if you prefer auditory learning. Let someone read the Bible to you a bit every day! My favorite audio Bible is the dailyaudiobible.com
Proverbs a Day–The book of Proverbs has thirty-one chapters, so you can read through it every month by reading a chapter each day.
Topical Bible Plans
These plans are very popular because they are as varied as there are subjects. These are great for the Bible student who desires to know more about what God’s word says on a given topic.
Some of my favorite topical reading plans are:
Again, there are SO many different plans you can choose from here! BUT… I encourage you to create your own, based on your needs and goals! Which is what we’ll talk about next…
How to create your own Bible reading plan
Now that you know the two basic types of Bible reading plans, let’s talk about how you can create your own! While bible reading plans are a dime a dozen on the internet (just do a search and you’ll find an endless selection!), I want to share 4 steps on how to create your own!
Knowing how to create your own plan means you can have a customized plan at any time. I do this all the time and here are the steps I follow:
Step 1: Decide what you hope to accomplish.
Do you want to learn more about a topic? A topical Bible study can help you fill in the holes in your spiritual life.
Or maybe you want to become more familiar with a certain part of the Bible. For example, does the Old Testament feel a bit foreign? Do you want to better understand the life and ministry of Jesus? In these situations, you’ll want to choose an appropriate read-through plan, such as the entire Old Testament or the Gospels.
If you aren’t sure what you need, take time to pray, and ask God to show you. You might be surprised where and what He leads you to study. Then, write it down.
Step 2: Choose a time-frame for your study.
If I’m doing a topical study, I typically pick 30 days to go through it. This allows me the time to truly dig into the topic and go deep. If I’m wanting to do a read-through plan, such as a read-through of the prophets, the Psalms, or the Gospels, I give myself more time.
Some common time-frames I’ve used are 30 days, 40 days, 90 days, and 365 days. Obviously, the more text you want to cover, the more days you’re going to want to give yourself, unless you have larger chunks of time to set aside for reading.
Tip: Reading just 20 minutes a day will take you through the entire Bible in a year.
Step 3: Lay out your plan.
Here’s where a good ole search engine, your Bible, and some Bible reference tools comes in handy! Let’s say I want to read through the 12 minor prophets. I’ll research each one to see how many chapters and verses are in each one. Then I’ll list them out and add them up. For example:
Hosea- 197 verses
After I total up the numbers, I’ll divide those up by the number of days I’ve given myself to complete the plan.
Example: If I have a total of 1023 verses and I want to put these into a 90 day reading plan, I’ll divide 1023/90 = between 11-12 verses a day.
Using this as a guideline, I’ll go through and map out my daily reading plan.
Tip: If I’m putting together a topical Bible reading plan, I’ll use a concordance to prep a master list of passages on this topic using keywords. I also use cross referencing to find related Scriptures. Doing this with online tools allows me to “preview” what the verse says for context to see if it is a good fit for my plan. Some verses may contain the word I’m looking for but not be relevant to my topic. From there, I’ll plug those that fit into my 30-day reading plan.
Hey! Would you like to see this practice in action? If so, let me know in the comments! I’m thinking about doing a live workshop on this if there is enough interest! In the meantime, be sure to grab my Bible study Sheets below! These will help you dig deeper into the passages you choose for your reading plan!
Step 4: Choose a Bible study method to accompany your plan.
I love going deeper in my Bible reading plan by choosing a Bible study method! Can you just read the assigned passages you’ve jotted down? Sure. But having a study method will help you dive deeper into God’s Word, and really grow your faith!
There are many different Bible study methods you can use. Here are a few of my favorites:
The key is to just pick ONE to start with and just start! Don’t let it overwhelm you! You may want to check out my “Bible Study Methods: 7 Ways in 7 Days” course to help you find a method you love to use.
Step 5: Prepare your supplies.
All you really need for a Bible reading plan is your Bible. But if you want to really study and dig deep, having a few supplies on-hand is helpful. What you’ll need depends on the method you chose but here are a few things that will make your Bible reading plan easier:
A Bible study notebook–Keep all of your notes organized in one place. You can always use a plain notebook, or check out this post about how to make your own Bible study notebook.
Highlighters and pens–I have found that using a color-coding system helps me when I’m reading my Bible. Having a nice set of highlighters, and a note-taking pen nearby simplifies my study time.
Note cards–These aren’t necessary for Bible reading, either. But they are nice to have if you come across a verse that really helps you, and you want to easily remember it. Jot it down on a card so you can refer back to it.
Tip: Keep all of your supplies together in a basket, and near the area where you plan to do your Bible reading. Trust me, searching for your highlighters can eat up a lot of your study time!
Be sure to download our 10 Questions Bible study Sheets below as well to keep in your study basket! These will come in handy for mining the Scriptures included on your Bible reading plan.
Finally, Just start reading.
In this post you’ve learned that having a Bible reading plan is like having a map to guide you on a journey. We’ve identified the two different types of Bible reading plans, and I’ve shown you how you can create your own plan for any topic.
But remember, there is no wrong way to read the Bible. Don’t let yourself get so overwhelmed with the details that you never actually start reading. God’s Word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)
The Bible has the power to encourage and strengthen you, even if your method or “plan” isn’t perfect.
Regardless of which Bible reading plan you decide on, my prayer is that you’ve been encouraged and equipped to achieve your Bible reading goals and get to know God more intimately. Let me know how it goes!