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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.

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.

George Guthrie has a very helpful Read the Bible for Life Chronological Bible Reading Plan. Guthrie has also made a a booklet version of the Read the Bible for Life 4+1 Reading Plan. The plan is similar to the Discipleship Journal plan, but in addition to reading in four different places in the Scriptures, you also read a psalm a day, cycling through the psalms twice in the year. This plan is semi-chronological, placing the prophets and the NT letters in rough chronological order.

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, did a church-wide reading plan last 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.

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114 thoughts on “Bible Reading Plans for 2012”

  1. Bob Sukkau says:

    These plans are great for new Christians to give them a good overview, but there is also the practice of lectio divina where you read, for example, only Mark 9:1-13, the transfiguration of Jesus, and meditate on it the rest of the day. It is only when one does this that one realizes how rich Scripture really is. Personally, I’ve been a Christian for almost 50 years and I read a chapter a day. It will take me over 3 years, but there’s just too much to meditate on to zip through 3 or 4 chapters a day.

  2. Bert Lloyd says:

    I have read the Bible through using the Discipleship Journal reading plan since 1991 (20yrs). It is easy to use. It takes approx. 30 minutes to read a daily section. The blessings of reading the entire Bible (yes even Leviticus) you can’t measure. Do it in 2012. You can begin now! You can use for online links to each reading.

  3. Great post. I have been a Christian for 37 years. Sometime early in my walk I read of a man who became a christian about the same age as myself and how he set himself the task of reading the Bible. He was embarassed by the fact he had lived more years than he had read the Bible through. Some years later, he had caught up and at the reading of the account of his life, he was many times ahead. It inspired me. I gave myself to the task of reading the Bible through each year. For the past 35 years it has been my practice to read the Bible through each year, sometimes twice a year, with different patterns and plans but always with the same goal–to “know the ways of God that I might know Him” (Ex. 33:13).

    All of the plans mentioned are good ones. I used the Discipleship Journal plan for about 5 years, this past year I used the M’Cheyne plan. this next year i will use the Robert Roberts plan available through the YouVersion app on my Android phone. The lectio divina is a great supplement and it need not be an either/or proposition.

    All time spent in the word of God is profitable when the heart is open to the Spirit and the will is submitted to Christ.

    1. Bob Sukkau says:

      Hi Marty,

      A very thoughtful post. “The lectio divina is a great supplement and it need not be an either/or proposition.” I totally agree. For many years when I was a full-time missionary or pastor that’s what worked for me. But I was one of those that tried too hard and I hit the wall and wound up in the psych ward. I am very grateful that the Lord has restored me. We think we have to produce: converts, churches, and even how often we have read the Bible. God is a God of grace. We are all unique. Sometimes all He wants us to do is listen to Him. So I’m more relaxed about it now.

  4. Mike says:

    I love this post, a one-stop shop for reading plans!
    I have never attempted a 3 or 4 section reading plan, I want to know the who, what, where and why before I read. For those of you who have done the 3 or 4 section reading, do you find it difficult to keep this in mind as you read? I am thinking through the plan I would like to follow this year and just looking for some honest feedback, thanks.

  5. there is a new one that I worked on for several years and finally got published via the Kindle. Through the Doctrines of the Bible in a Year takes you through the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity to teach the specific doctrins of the Bible.

  6. years ago i began the habit of reading through scripture annually. the plan i used was found in ligonier’s “tabletalk” daily devotional. to move through the bible at this pace is not difficult. the only catch is not to miss a day. a ten to fifteen minute obligation is much easier to fulfill than a twenty to thirty minute one.

    the initial goal is to build the habit into our routine.
    next we must grasp that everything in this fat book is intentionally there to instruct us. at times we will be puzzled, amazed, perplexed, bored, convicted, encouraged. we will begin to notice certain emphases…like how important it is to god that we view him as the creator of heaven and earth…this comes up all the time.

    we will be better equiped to form opinions and more inclined to discuss the message(s) of the bible. we will draw much more from good sermons.

    these words are our light, these words are our bread. they will make us more discerning, more teachable, more interested in, and cognizant of, the themes and connections throughout the book. we will become less satisfied with milk and more desirous of meat. we will grow in our understanding and appreciation of the bigness and glory of god. we will gain insight into human nature…big time. we will begin to realize how inexhaustible are the riches of the gospel and what grace really means.

    take up and read!

  7. Richard says:

    I like “The One Year Bible” that has the entire Bible in daily readings already arranged in the text so there’s no need to refer to a separate plan. For each day there’s a portion from the OT, one from the NT, one from Psalms, and a fourth from Proverbs. The Psalms are covered twice during the year. It’s available in various translations; I have the ESV published by Crossway.

  8. Dane says:

    What a helpful post Justin!

  9. ChuckM says:

    If you have a mobile device, the YouVersion Bible app is free and has all these plans and more. It even has multiple versions and lets you switch between then as well as take personal notes. It tracks your reading, reminds you to read, and even reads to you out loud. I use it on my iPad all the time.

  10. Jim O'Brien says:

    This is really excellent. The only thing I would add are One-Year Bibles. Thanks for the article and links, Jim

  11. Clayton says:

    Neither of the links to the bookmarks Bethlehem Church made for the DJ plan work. Fix please?

  12. Anne says:

    Wow…thank you so much for this. We are going to be challenging our small group members to have a PLAN for reading the scriptures this year. This is an invaluable tool that we will share with them. Blessings!

  13. lander says:

    Witmer’s layout–is it formatted wrong?

  14. Stacy says:

    Thanks! FYI, the link for the Journey Church plan does not work, because apparently they are not using that plan anymore for 2012! However, the 2011 schedule is still available here:

  15. Tina Cariaga says:

    Engage Scripture Reading Plan link doesn’t seem to be working…

  16. I’ve been following the Lord for nearly 40 yrs & have never completed a ‘read thru the Bible in one year’ yet! I find they just don’t suit my style of study & meditation. I have a friend who reads thru the Bible every second year & on the alternate years he focusses on studying extensively one or two books.

    Each to his own.

  17. Justin,
    I just got a Kindle. Do you know if any of the ESV plans can be accessed on the Kindle and linked up with the full text of the ESV?


  18. Sara Shull says:

    For those who like Grant Horner’s Ten bookmarks (list) system but have trouble with reading ten chapters each day… You might be interested in the way I combined his lists to make five bookmarks, reducing the reading by half…but keeping the design and benefit of his system. If read daily, it is still once through the Bible, and at least twice through the New Testament in a year (with skipping 28 days). I’ve combined his bookmark lists in the following ways Gospels and Acts, Books of Moses and Psalms, Poetry and Prophets, Wisdom (Proverbs) and History, and finally, New Testament Epistles. All credit to Grant Horner as it just his lists combined in a way that made sense to me. I have simple bookmarks for anyone who’d like them, by emailing me through the address in my blogpost.

  19. Bram says:

    The Bethlehem Church links (to the pdf bookmarks) are dead.

  20. Abraham says:

    I was wondering if you have any recommendations for Bible reading plans that include the deuterocanonical books. I know a lot of Protestants hardly ever think about them, but I’ve found it useful to at least read through them.

  21. Steve Johnson says:

    After quite a few attempts at the Discipleship Journal approach over the past 15-20 years, this year I stumbled upon an approach where you only read in one area of the Bible per day. Monday – Genesis, Tuesday – Joshua, Wednesday – Proverbs, Thursday – Isaiah, Friday – Matthew, Saturday – Acts, Sunday – Psalms; and proceeding forward from each of those starting points throughout the year. The amount of reading per day is a bit erratic. However, this approach has worked much better for me than reading in 2-5 different places per day. I really like seeing several consecutive chapters per day. I didn’t quite finish in a year, but am a solid 80% of the way through, and will just continue on for another 6-8 weeks until I get done. I’m looking forward to the next pass through.

  22. Dave cooper says:

    If readers are interested in a great app (for apple devices) that can incorporate just about all of these plans check out Reading Plan. It has dozens of plans you can use (it starts you with a few but you can download many more) and it will link the daily reading to various online Bibles or Bible apps (such as the ESV app). It also allows you to sync between multiple devices so you are not tied to just one device (such as your iPad). It’s very customizable and it’s free!

  23. Ryan says:

    Thanks for this great post. I have been thinking about taking a chronological approach this year, and the one you linked to seems to be just what I was looking for!

  24. Rachel says:

    I love the For the Love of God blog and bible reading plan. It’s not working, it’s stuck at December 31st 2011. Please pass along that it is greatly missed! Please continue it.

  25. I thought I’d mention

    I started three years ago as a way to not only create a reading plan, but to offer encouragement and helpful reflection as readers work their way through the Bible.

  26. so we want to use a mystic’s (John Cassin) style of prayer that is not found in scripture. we are okay with using semi-pelagianism? We are okay with swimming the Tiber back to Rome?

    This is as Turtullian said against Marcion: Nothing there has the glow of life, but that ferocity which has given to scenic plays their stories of the sacrifices of the Taurians, and the loves of the Colchians, and the torments of the Caucasus. Nothing, however, in Pontus is so barbarous 272 and sad as the fact that Marcion was born there, fouler than any Scythian, more roving than the waggon-life of the Sarmatian, more inhuman than the Massagete, more audacious than an Amazon, darker than the cloud, (of Pontus) colder than its winter, more brittle than its ice, more deceitful than the Ister, more craggy than Caucasus. Nay more, the true Prometheus, Almighty God, is mangled by Marcion’s blasphemies. Marcion (I’ll add Lectio Divina) is more savage than even the beasts of that barbarous region.

    Tertullian (2010-05-28). Against Marcion (Kindle Locations 20-25). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

    And I find it HIGHLY offensive that a psuedo calvinistic group (you have no right to be called Reformed) would be proposing ROMISH doctrine. Shame on you. Double shame that a woman has to correct you.

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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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