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There are lots of ways to read the Bible in a year, and I won’t try to capture all of them. But here are numerous options, in no particular order. You may want to look through it and see what you think would work best for you.

First off, if you’re not persuaded that having a plan is necessary and biblical in some sense, then here’s a helpful piece from John Piper, written in 1984.

Stephen Witmer has a helpful introduction--on the weaknesses of typical plans and some advice on reading the Bible together with others--as well as offering his own new two-year plan.

George Guthrie has a very helpful Read the Bible for Life Chronological Bible Reading Plan. (I’ll have more to say later about Guthrie’s new book, Read the Bible for Life, and the church-wide campaign to promote biblical literacy. It’s really worth picking up.)

The Gospel Coalition’s For the Love of God Blog takes you through the M'Cheyne reading plan, with a meditation each day by D. A. Carson related to one of the readings.

The Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers (Pastor Andy Perry explains the plan and why he recommends it.)

Before I mention some of the ESV plans, here are a few other options that aren’t one-year-plans per se:

Don Whitney has a simple but surprisingly effective tool: A Bible Reading Record. It’s a list of every chapter in the Bible, and you can check them off as you read them at whatever pace you want.

For the highly motivated and disciplined, Grant Horner’s plan has you reading each day a chapter from ten different places in the Bible. (Bob Kauflin read the whole Bible this way in five and a half months and explains why he likes this system a lot.)

Joe Carter and Fred Sanders explain James Gray’s method of “How to Master the English Bible.” My pastor, David Sunday, told me that “the plan they recommend is, from my vantage point, the most productive way to read and to master the Bible’s contents (or more importantly, to let the Bible master you!).”

There are 10 Reading Plans for ESV Editions, and the nice things is the way in which Crossway has made them accessible in multiple formats:

  • web (a new reading each day appears online at the same link)
  • RSS (subscribe to receive by RSS)
  • podcast (subscribe to get your daily reading in audio)
  • iCal (download an iCalendar file)
  • mobile (view a new reading each day on your mobile device)
  • print (download a PDF of the whole plan)
Reading Plan Format
Daily Reading Bible
Daily Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms
Web RSS iCal Mobile Print
Outreach Bible
Daily Old Testament, Psalms, and New Testament
Web RSS iCal Mobile Print
Outreach Bible New Testament
Daily New Testament. Read through the New Testament in 6 months
Web RSS iCal Mobile Print
M'Cheyne One-Year Reading Plan
Daily Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms or Gospels
Web RSS iCal Mobile Print
ESV Study Bible
Daily Psalms or Wisdom Literature; Pentateuch or the History of Israel; Chronicles or Prophets; and Gospels or Epistles
Web RSS iCal Mobile Print
Literary Study Bible
Daily Psalms or Wisdom Literature; Pentateuch or the History of Israel; Chronicles or Prophets; and Gospels or Epistles
Web RSS iCal Mobile Print
Every Day in the Word
Daily Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs
Web RSS iCal Mobile Print
Through the Bible
Daily Old Testament and New Testament
Web RSS iCal Mobile Print
Through the Bible chronologically (from Back to the Bible)
Web RSS iCal Mobile Print
Book of Common Prayer Daily Office
Daily Psalms, Old Testament, New Testament, and Gospels
Web RSS iCal Mobile Print

You can also access each of these Reading Plans as podcasts:

  • Right-click (Ctrl-click on a Mac) the "RSS" link of the feed you want from the above list.
  • Choose "Copy Link Location" or "Copy Shortcut."
  • Start iTunes.
  • Choose Advanced > Subscribe to Podcast.
  • Paste the URL from step three into the box.
  • Click OK.

The entire Bible on audio is usually about 75 hours (or 4500 minutes). If you commute to work 5 days a week, that's about 260 days a year. And if it takes you, say, 17 minutes to commute each way to work--and if you listen to the Bible on audio during your drive each way--you'll get through the entire Bible twice in a year. This probably isn’t the only way to do Bible intake--but it’s one most of us should take advantage of more.

Here’s some more detail on these plans (some from Crossway, some from elsewhere).

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

Screen shot 2009-12-24 at 12.25.39 AM

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
  • 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.

You can 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. There are boxes to check off each reading as you complete it.

M'Cheyne One-Year Reading Plan

Screen shot 2009-12-24 at 12.30.49 AM

With this plan you read through:

  • the NT twice
  • the Psalms twice
  • 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.

Here’s a plan from NavPress, which is used each year at Bethlehem Baptist Church:

The Discipleship Journal Reading Plan

Screen shot 2009-12-24 at 12.34.26 AM

With this plan you read through the entire Bible once.

With this plan 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 makes available bookmarks that you can place in the relevant parts of your Bible:

The Journey Engage Scripture Reading Plan

Screen shot 2009-12-24 at 12.43.44 AM

The Journey, an Acts 29 church in St. Louis pastored by Darrin Patrick, is doing a church-wide reading plan this year.

This plan has you read whole chapters (a feature I like):

  • one New Testament chapter
  • two Old Testament chapters

They also have a couple of features designed to help those of us who have trouble persevering through a schedule like this: (1) there are lots of reflection/catch-up days; (2) they have pulled from the daily plan some of the slower-paced, harder-to-understand books. These then become “Monthly Scripture Snapshots” that are to be speed-read, along with online videos and overviews to put these books in context. See their website for more resources related to this plan.

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47 thoughts on “Bible Reading Plans”

  1. David says:

    I also read through Prof. Horner’s plan this past year, though I didn’t double-up on the longer passages as Mr. Kauflin did – but I think that’s a great idea I’ll employ this coming year. By far, it’s the most intense and edifying Bible-reading experience I have ever had. I encourage everyone I come across who is interested in reading the Bible to find a way to make it through this program once.

  2. Rick says:

    Jusitn, I was trying to read why Pastor Perry recommends, The Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers, but both links under that listing go to the plan itself.

    Thanks for posting this and Happy New Year to you and your family!

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Thanks! Fixed it.

  3. hartley says:

    What an awesome resource…thanks.

    In 2010 I just average the total page count in my Bible over a year and realized I’d only have to read 4 pages a day to complete the entire book.

    These different plans are a great way to help others read the entire Bible, a life changing experience (at least for me).

  4. An updated version (i.e. re-written in language more acessible to the modern reader) of Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s introduction to his Bible reading plan,which outlines the dangers and the advantages of a Bible in a year reading plan, can be viewed here:

  5. Kim Shay says:

    I used the ESV Study Bible plan in 2010, and I have to say I appreciated so much the printable bookmarks. It made it so convenient for flipping around the bible. I’m going to use the two year plan this year. Thanks for all of these great resources.

  6. Dave Wilson says:

    Great resources!

    In the past year or so, I experimented with reading the entire Bible in the month, then read the New Testament in a month later that year. Though I wouldn’t recommend this approach in general, I did benefit greatly from the experience.

    Anyone else have any insights about this kind of approach?

    As I side note, I started blogging to chronicle both months, and as a result, have been introduced to great blogs like yours.

    Thanks again,

  7. Barbara from TX says:

    I’ve never done well with plans tied to the calendar–even the ones with catch-up days. I think I might work through the total immersion plan, i.e., reading through a book (shortest to longest) twenty times. I actually attempted this with a method that had you reading a book seven times. I’m embarrassed to admit, I didn’t make it past three times, but the article by Joe and Fred has given me new hope. Justin, is this the method you’re using since your pastor recommends it? I’m thinking this might be best for Bible study teachers like me who really need to master the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit. Would like to hear from others who’ve done this.

  8. Bob Myers says:

    Thank you for sharing this, and thank you for another year of the most practically useful and Biblically robust blogging around. I have personally profited in ways too numerous to count, and as a result so have the other people I influence and seek to serve.

    May God continue to use your fine work!

  9. Mike says:

    Has anyone used the “Chronological” reading plan, I am thinking about using it this year? If so, what did you think?

    1. Ralph says:

      I use the chronological plan each year and vary it with a different version each time. Reading the Psalms in this context adds a lot of sense and for me enriches it. I also add – e.g. before the week in Revelation I read Zechariah in one setting. Today as every year having just finished Rev. I am struck afresh by the sense of time God has and the destiny that matters to Him, to be conformed to Christ’s image. In September I take a 3 hour session to read through Deuteronomy, it seems to ground me and also give a sense of the shock of the exile. Reading (memorizing) through entire books in one sitting has enriched me and allows for thoughtful approach with my Hebrew friends. Happy New Year

  10. Roy Garringer says:

    I put together a plan adapted from:
    – Dr. Grant’s system
    – ESV Literary Study Bible

    It eschews the chapter breaks where necessary.
    It includes printable bookmarks that stick out the side of a thinline Bible.

    You can access the files here:

  11. Paul Ireland says:

    Love this post! Thank you for that!

    I put together a list of 10 Tips for people trying to read the Bible in a year. The biggest tip I constantly give is to just read the reading for the day and not get bogged down in “catching up”. Almost everyone loses the catch-up game.

    The post is here:

  12. Greg says:

    I have used the Discipleship Journal method with the bookmarks Bethlehem Baptist Church created. Today, I went to print out a new set so that I could check off the verses and see my progress. To my disappointment, the bookmarks are no longer available because of “copyright restrictions” according to BBC’s resources page. They do link to DJ’s booklet pdf, as you have done as well. Thanks for the links, but I still would like to get a fresh set of bookmarks. Anyone know of another link?

  13. One of the most frustrating part of any Bible reading plan I have found is keeping track of where you are in the Bible. I usually keep losing my list or I forget the list at home when I want to read and go further. There is an iphone/ipad application called ReadingPlan that allows you to download several different plans and allows you to keep track of your daily reading on your iphone. This way I can read where ever I am, either on my iphone bible application or hard copy. It is a blessing and strongly suggest that those on the go take a look at it.

    It is a free application and you can look at it here:

  14. Paul Wilson says:

    The problem with many of these systems is fatigue; pressing on for the sake of task completion is not enough to motivate many people. What is needed is a reading plan that ensures a form of cultural literacy about the Bible’s most important treasures. In this approach, whole chapters, when they are considered peripheral to an overview, can be skipped till later. My pre-teen daughter has an edited Bible that introduced her to the most significant portions of scripture. This Bible familiarized her with the basic stories, principles, and truths that underscore a mature faith. It may be 50% as long as a complete Bible, but contains 95% of the scriptures from which sermons are drawn, and which instruct our lives.

  15. Ron says:

    Thank you for these marvelous resources. I’ll be sure to share them.

  16. Max says:

    The Bethlehem bookmarks link for The Discipleship Journal Reading Plan are not working. Is there another place to find those?

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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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