An Alternative, Less-Stressful Way to Use an Annual Bible Reading Plan

Written by Karl Dahlfred on .

It is nearly the end of the year and I am just over half way through my through-the-Bible-in-a-year reading plan. That may seem like a failure since I didn’t even come close to completing the reading plan. However, I am totally fine with where I am in the plan because I usually don’t use these type of annual plans in the way that they are intended to be used.
For me, the most important thing is not that I am reading all of the prescribed readings on the precise day indicated but rather that I am making progress. I use plans like my current one as a type of checklist to make sure that I am consistently reading through all of Scripture, and not just randomly jumping around or repeatedly reading only my favorite parts.
For most us, there are probably parts of the Bible that we gravitate to more. Don’t know what to read? We head straight to Romans, or the New Testament epistles, or one of the Gospels, or maybe Psalms or Isaiah. Few of us think to ourselves, “Oh boy, I know what I’ll read next… Zephaniah! or maybe Leviticus!” Yet, these less popular books of the Bible are part of God’s Holy Scripture as well. As Paul reminded Timothy, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Though some parts of the Bible don’t seem as attractive or interesting or immediately applicable to everyday life, they still have something that God wants to teach us. We neglect them to our detriment.
For that reason, I want to be regularly reading through the whole Bible no matter how long it takes. In the past, I have completed the whole Bible in a year and that was worthwhile. But I’ve also taken two and a half years to complete an “annual” Bible reading plan. And that was good too.

Sometimes I read another book of the Bible that isn’t next in the plan.

Sometimes I miss a day because life got busy.

Sometimes I read fewer chapters than what I am “supposed to.”

And that’s okay.

But even if something gets in the way of my Bible reading (including my own failure to allocate time in a given day), I always have my reading plan to return to and tell me where to read next. At this point, I don’t even pay attention to whether I am up-to-date with my readings and I don’t feel any pressure to “catch up.” My goal is be a man of the entire Bible, not just parts of it, always pushing forward in Bible reading even if my reading progress is sometimes slow. Sure, I also want to be consistent and regular in my Bible reading, taking in larger portions of Scripture, not just a few verses here and there. But using a dated Bible reading plan as a simple checklist to keep me on target and moving forward has turned out to be a great way to build into my Bible reading a bit of margin and grace for those days when, as they say, “life happens."
  • If you would like to read through the Bible, there are many excellent plans for either digital or hardcopy use, including those available via and Ligonier Ministries.

  • I have gathered PDFs of Bible reading plans in Thai and English at this link.

  • This past year, I began using a chronological Bible reading plan that you can download here.
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