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The ESV Bible Reading Plans can be accessed in multiple ways:

  • web (a new reading each day appears online at the same link)
  • RSS (subscribe to receive by RSS)
  • email (subscribe to receive by email)
  • iCal (download an iCalendar file)
  • mobile (view a new reading each day on your mobile device)
  • print (download a PDF of the whole plan)

There are about 10 plans available. Go to that link to access each plan in any of the options above.

Here are the three I would recommend:

ESV Study Bible (ESV Literary Study Bible contains the same plan)

With this plan there are four readings each day, divided into four main sections:

  • Psalms and Wisdom Literature;
  • Pentateuch and the History of Israel;
  • Chronicles and Prophets; and
  • Gospels and Epistles.

The introduction explains:

In order to make the readings come out evenly, four major books of the Bible are included twice in the schedule: the Psalms (the Bible's hymnal), Isaiah (the grandest of the OT prophets), Luke (one of the four biblical Gospels), and Romans (the heart of the Bible's theology of salvation).

The list of readings from the Psalms and the Wisdom Literature begins and ends with special readings that are especially appropriate for the opening and closing of the year. The list of readings from the Pentateuch and the History of Israel proceeds canonically through the five books of Moses and then chronologically through the history of the OT, before closing the year with the sufferings of Job. The list of readings from the Chronicles and the Prophets begins with the Chronicler's history of the people of God from Adam through the exile, followed by the Major and Minor Prophets, which are organized chronologically rather than canonically.

I plan to print out this PDF, which is designed to be cut into four bookmarks that can be placed at the appropriate place in your Bible reading.

Daily Reading Bible

With this plan you go through:

  • the NT twice,
  • the Psalms twice, and
  • the rest of the OT once.

If you like this plan, you may want to pick up a copy of the Daily Reading Bible (available in hardcover and paperback). It’s not in the style where the Bible itself is rearranged by readings. Rather, it is a normal Bible, except that there are marginal notations that indicate where you are to start and stop reading.

E.g., on January 1 you are to read Genesis 1-2, Psalm 1, Matthew 1-2. When you open to Genesis 1, you’ll see in the outer margin a notation that says in bold, JAN 1. That’s where you start reading, until you get to JAN 2 at Genesis 3.. At the bottom of the page of Genesis 1 there is a box that says, JAN 1: Ps 1; Matt 1-2–which indicates the other readings for that day. Hope that makes sense. (Here’s a sample from Matthew.)

M'Cheyne One-Year Reading Plan

With this plan you read through:

  • the NT twice,
  • the Psalms twice, and
  • the rest of the OT once.

The plan begins with the four great beginnings or “births” of Scripture: Genesis 1 (beginning of the world), Ezra 1 (rebirth of Israel after her return from Babylonian exile), Matthew 1 (birth of the Messiah), Acts 1 (birth of the body of Christ). John Stott says of this reading schedule: “Nothing has helped me more to gain an overview of the Bible, and so of God's redemptive plan.”

If you go with this route, I’d recommend D.A. Carson’s For the Love of God (vol. 1 and vol. 2 are available–vols. 3 and 4 are forthcoming). Carson’s introduction and preface–which includes a layout of the calendar–are available for free online.

Since there are four readings each day, it’s easy to modify this one so that you read through the Bible once in two years, by reading just the first two readings each day for the first year and the second two readings each day for the second year.

And here are a couple of plans from NavPress:

The Discipleship Journal Reading Plan

With this plan you read through the entire Bible once.

The unique advantage of this plan is that there are “catch-up” days:

  • To prevent the frustration of falling behind, which most of us tend to do when following a Bible reading plan, each month of this plan gives you only 25 readings. Since you’ll have several “free days” each month, you could set aside Sunday to either not read at all or to catch up on any readings you may have missed in the past week.
  • If you finish the month’s readings by the twenty-fifth, you could use the final days of the month to study passages that challenged or intrigued you.

Bethlehem Baptist Church makes available the bookmark-method for this plan:

Book-at-a-Time Bible Reading Plan

This book-at-a-time approach takes you through the whole Bible once in a year. It has two readings each day:

  • the first reading alternatives between OT and NT books (about 3-4 chapters a day), with the Gospels spread throughout the year;
  • the second reading is about a chapter a day of the wisdom literature and Isaiah.

As with the Discipleship Journal Plan, there are only 25 readings a month, allowing for catch-up and/or reflection.

Happy reading!

View Comments


15 thoughts on “Bible Reading Plans”

  1. Blake White says:

    Wow. Thanks for serving us with this post!

  2. JMH says:

    This is great, JT, thanks.

    Here’s a question: Does anybody else not enjoy reading 4 separate passages every day? When I (unsuccessfully) tried M’Cheyne last year, I altered it to read 4 chapters of the same book every morning, and alternated between two books at a time.

    With 4 different passages, I feel like my reading is a mile wide and an inch deep. I can see benefits to it, but it makes be feel unsettled. Anybody else?

  3. Johnny says:

    I, personally, have loved using the M’Cheyne reading plan. Yes, it does feel very wide, but it also helps me bridge connections between different parts of the Bible.

    Secondly, I’ve been using Carson’s commentary to read along with the M’Cheyne plan, and they have been extremely helpful. I highly recommend those two volumes / books.

  4. brouz says:

    Thank you for this, Justin. I was just trying to plan how to read my new ESV Study Bible in 2009 and then you post this! Awesome.

    Thank you, also, for posting the free Theology program on iTunes. I’ll be tuning into that.

    I check this blog every day now. Thanks!

  5. Mark and Maki says:


    For deeper study I have mixed my routine with study questions from the book, "Search The Scriptures" by Alan M. Sibbs.

    This book has given me the tools to dig in deeper to the text myself by answering questions each day about the text itself. By mining each passage, and then recording my thoughts, I have been able to grow in new ways just by reading and studying God's Word. I love it. Of course reading is also important, so I keep a Bible reading plan for the breadth. All of this can be done in about 30 minutes a day in my experience.

    Blessings to you!
    And JT, thank you for this post!

  6. David McKay says:

    Hi Justin and others.
    I have enjoyed reading through the Bible seven times over the past four years.

    I have sympathy with what Jake said about reading several books at once.

    At first, I was modifying Michael Coley’s chart
    and reading a book at a time, and taking about 4 or 5 months to read through the entire Bible.

    But after reading through the TNIV, the ESV Reformation Study Bible, the NIV Archaeological Study Bible, the New Living Translation, second edition, the Good News Bible, Australian edition and “The Books of the Bible: a presentation of Today’s New International Version,” I felt able to read several books at a time, and so when I read through the New Jerusalem Study Bible, I did it fairly rapidly and read several different passages each day and did not feel too confused.

    It is well worth us Protestants reading through the Apocrypha. I found some treasures and useful background in parts of these books, though I’m still sure they are not part of the canon of Scripture.

    It is interesting that the chart in the ESV Study Bible, which I received for Christmas has quite a few similarities with the order of the Bible books in “The Books of the Bible.”

    I’m really looking forward to my 8th read through, which will be, God being my helper, the ESV Study Bible, biblical text and study notes and articles.

  7. Christoph says:

    I like the 3-1-1 plan. 3 chapters in the OT, 1 in the Gospels, 1 in the Epistles. Start over once you finish the Gospels and Epistles (and I guess the OT, too! :) )
    You can dedicate 1 day a week to read 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb, or just read those as part of the OT.
    That way you will read the OT once a year and the Epistles and Gospels several times.
    The best thing: If you miss, you just pick up where you left off.

  8. Stephen Ley says:

    I followed the Navigator’s one year/25 days a month plan in 2008 using the ESV Reformation Study Bible from Ligonier. It was awesome! I was amazed by the parallels I kept running into when reading from 4 parts of Scripture each day.

    And having those 5 catch-up days was useful.

  9. Randy says:

    Yes, very good post. I have done both the DJ and the One Year Bible and loved them both for different reasons. I am going to go with the ESV one for 2009. Thanks!

  10. David McKay says:

    One advantage of reading from several parts of the Bible at once is all the connections you find.

    In Psalms you read a reference to Og, King of Bashan, whom you have just been reading about in Deuteronomy, or in the New Testament you come across a Christological interpretation of some innocent sounding passage in Leviticus.

  11. Tyler Kenney says:

    Thanks for this post, Justin.

    If I may add to an already great list, there is a plan from Treasuring Christ Church in Raleigh, NC that follows the Hebrew order of the OT (which some argue is theologically significant–see the first article in the latest Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society).

    This plan covers the entire Bible in one year, with two passages each day (one from the OT, and one from the NT).

  12. Bill says:

    Thanks for putting all these together! The Discipleship Journal is that many folks in my area jumped onto and has really been great. I wrote an extended post about that one.

    I pulled together five ways keep up with it. PDF pamphlet, Microsoft Scheduler, iCal, CRC Church Website and a public Google Calendar. It seems folks in my area have found it pretty helpful.

    Thanks again for the suggestions. I’ll keep this post in mind for when I’m ready to switch to something new.

  13. Dale says:

    Thanks! I have done the same research over the past few years and have tried several different plans. (A recent survey by Back to the Bible showed that people are more likely to stick with Bible reading if they have a plan to follow.) You did not mention a chronological plan, of which there are several available. I looked forward to this approach, but after 5 months, jumped to the NT for a month, then went back to catch up. For one reason or another, I was not completely satisfied with any one plan, and some of these reasons have been mentioned. This year I created one to emphasize continuity – reading through complete books, mix of OT and NT, combining similar genres and content, and left Saturdays as a free day to catch up, or reread passages that may have been a particular blessing or not easily understood,woodync or to read ahead if a busy week is coming up. For example, I have Hebrews following Leviticus. Although Hebrews does not directly cite Leviticus, the content of both books help explain each other. I have tried to do this with prophetic books, too. (Sorry this is so long.)

  14. Berean Wife says:

    Thanks for the Bible Reading plans information. Does anyone have a recommendation for an Audio Bible Podcast? One that will download that day’s audio portion? Preferably in KJV or ESV translations.

    Berean Wife

  15. David Reimer says:

    I am among those who enjoy the annual pilgrimage through M’Cheyne’s calendar of readings. Those interested in this scheme might also like to know about Ben Edgington’s RSS feed which can be configured in quite a variety of ways.

    David Reimer

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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