Once a month, you’re going to hear from our authors, from our team, or from a guest on how we study the Bible, what resources we use, and what questions we ask.
When we were brainstorming this month’s blog posts, we found that we had some good-natured debate over this subject. Should we strive to read the Bible through in a year? We’ll offer both sides of the argument here and let you decide!
Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Read the Bible In a Year
By Kelly King
Almost every year, I tell myself that this will be the year I read through the entire Bible in twelve months. Almost every year I fail. My personality doesn’t deal well with failure (or my perceived failure), which is why I’ve decided to give myself a break when I feel the pressure on New Year’s Day to make this the year I will read every word of the canon.
Don’t get me wrong. I think reading the Bible every year is a worthy goal and produces discipline and consistency. I think reading the entire Bible in a year leads you to passages you might not normally read. But, here are three reasons you might NOT read the entire Bible in a year.
1. You might not have this conviction. Do you feel the pressure to do this because others have made you feel guilty for not accomplishing this task? Or is this something you believe the Lord wants you to do? If so, do it! But if you don’t believe it is best for your spiritual journey in the coming year, then give yourself a break. Galatians 1:10 says, “For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Consider your motives and whom you are trying to please. Reading the Bible is not a task on your to-do list, but comes from a desire to spend time with the Author who breathed life into those words.
2. You want to dive deeper into a particular book or passage. One of the main reasons I struggle to read the entire Bible each year is that I get to a certain passage or book and find myself wanting to know more. In the past year, I landed in 2 Kings. I became fascinated with Elijah and Elisha. Not only did I want to just read what Scripture said about them, I wanted to explore some of the context, the history of that time, and read additional commentaries that gave me deeper insight. Later in the year, I became fascinated by themes in Scripture and took some broad strokes at looking at how the meta-narrative leaned in on the subject of famine and wilderness. It’s a process I’m embracing and I’m excited to spend more time next year looking at other themes. Diving deeper for you might mean meditating on certain passages or memorizing verses that are life giving to your personal circumstances.
3. You are teaching a class or Bible study that demands more of your attention. I love that the new year is fresh with possibilities and a little more margin in our schedules. But I also know that in addition to my daily reading, I’m also preparing a lesson to teach on Sunday morning, studying Scripture for my mentoring group on Sunday evening, and leading a women’s Bible study on Wednesday night. I’m disciplined and have a practice for preparation in those areas, but it can sometimes translate into reading a few verses each day in my devotional time. I also find that reading passages of Scripture and being accountable in a group setting is more beneficial for me than reading large passages by myself.
So if you’re struggling with the concept of reading the entire Bible next year, consider taking a different approach. Purchase a new Bible for the new year and start marking it up and making notes. Keep track of what you read and find the gaps you missed. Remember 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Three Reasons I’m Glad I Read Through The Bible This Year
By Becky Loyd
True confession time: I have never actually read the Bible through in a year until this year. In fact, at the time of this posting, I will have just finished my first reading through the entire Bible.
As I have read, it has challenged me, encouraged me, made me think differently, and strengthened my faith.
So, why should you take the challenge to read the entire Bible in a year? I can only tell you what I have learned as I took this journey.
1. It helped me connect the story of Scripture. As I read through 1 and 2 Samuel, I also read some of the psalms that David wrote while he was experiencing these trials and triumphs. For example, David may have written Psalm 63 while he was experiencing what is recorded in 1 Samuel 23. In this passage, David has rescued the citizens of Keilah, only to be betrayed as they plan to hand him over to Saul. So, he heads into the wilderness to escape. In Psalm 63, as he is literally in the wilderness to save his own life, he writes:
God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you.
I thirst for you;
my body faints for you
in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.
Understanding David’s mindset when he wrote that psalm gave me new context to interpret the psalm. This is just one small example of how reading through the Bible helped me to understand even familiar passages of Scripture in a new way.
2. It took me through some parts of Scripture that I don’t normally study. There are definitely parts of the Bible that are hard to read and understand. For me, reading these parts of the Bible challenged me to make sense of what I was reading with what I know about the character of God. Reading through the books of history and the major and minor prophets helped me to grasp a little more clearly the reality of what life was like in Old Testament times. And by reading how the people who were supposed to follow God turned away from Him again and again to worship things that were wicked and evil, it helped me to understand the weight of redemption that Jesus offered.
3. The practice of tracking my progress has developed good habits for me. Before this year, my daily time with God was consistent, but focused on a verse or two of Scripture and a devotional thought. This year, I have read more Scripture, which has made me hunger for more Scripture. As I checked off what I read each evening, I found myself waking up in the morning wanting to read more. And after a year of this, I feel like I haven’t finished my day unless I have read a few chapters of my Bible. That yearning for Scripture was not something that I felt before I started this journey.
While reading the Bible through is not something I will do every year, I’m so glad that God led me to this journey in this specific year, as it has been one of the most difficult ones of my life due to health issues with family and friends. I know now that God was preparing me for these challenges by developing my faith and trust in His sovereignty, His goodness, His love, and His grace, all of which I have seen through reading the entirety of Scripture.
Whether you decide to read the entire Bible through in a year, focus on a specific area of study, or follow a more topical reading plan, the important thing is to be in the Word of God! Let us know how you plan to read and study Scripture in 2020 in the comments below. We’d love to hear how God is teaching you!