Happy New Year! Do you make resolutions or set goals you’d like to accomplish during the new year? A lot of people resolve to read the Bible more often or read it through in a year. If that’s you but you’re not quite sure where to start, here are some awesome and unique reading plans that can help¹. (Click titles for links to each plan.)
I cannot recommend this plan strongly enough. You’ll read through the entire Bible in a year, following the events as they happened chronologically. I have been through this plan several times (I even took my ladies’ Sunday school class through it in 2014). It is wonderful for helping you see the big picture of the Bible as well as how all the little pieces of the biblical puzzle fit together.
You can use this year long, 5 days a week plan individually or with the whole family. It “focuses only on the narratives [stories] of Scripture, along with all of the psalms and proverbs,” and includes a 52 week catechism, a weekly hymn, and a study guide for each day’s reading. You can access the plan online, in CSV format, in Google Calendar, and via daily email notifications.
How about reading through the Bible in a year with your spouse or family (you could also do this one individually)? With the M’Cheyne plan you’ll read through the Old Testament once, the New Testament and Psalms, twice. Each day, you’ll read an OT chapter and a NT chapter as a family and another OT chapter and NT chapter on your own (“in secret”). Free Daily Bible study offers suggestions for making this a two or three year plan if one year seems too daunting.
This 9-week plan designed by John MacArthur is a weekly, rather than daily plan. You are given a block of Scripture at the beginning of each week, and you decide how to break it up into manageable daily chunks that fit your schedule. Readings alternate between the Old and New Testaments. In 9 weeks, you’ll read through Mark, Luke, John, Romans, Proverbs, and part of Psalms.
New to daily Bible reading and don’t want to bite off more than you can chew? Try Back to the Bible’s 21-Day Challenge. Each day, you’ll read one chapter in the book of John, and in three weeks, you’ll be finished. It’s a great way to get your feet wet.
“The God’s Glory In Salvation Through Judgment Bible Reading Plan will aid your study of Scripture by helping you see the gravitational center of Scripture, God’s glory in salvation through judgment. This Bible reading plan follows the order of the Hebrew Bible and the canonical order of the New Testament.” This one year plan is available in two printable formats and a Kindle format.
Another great one for those who struggle with long term commitment. “The 90-day Bible reading plan integrates readings from Genesis, the foundational book of the Old Testament, with the three [synoptic] Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. On one side you’ll see God’s creative work and earliest interactions with His people; on the other, you’ll get to know Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us, fulfilling the promises made even in Genesis.”
Take time to slowly savor God’s word with this relaxed pace plan. Readings alternate between the Old and New Testament to keep you from getting bogged down in some of the more difficult sections. You’ll read through the whole Bible, one to two chapters per day, in three years.
How about a two-fer: Bible study and prayer? From Don Whitney’s Praying the Bible, this is an undated 31 day schedule for praying through all of the Psalms, five psalms per day (except on the 31st day – Psalm 119 stands alone!). Try it for a month, do it every month for a year, or intersperse it with other short plans. The schedule also includes instructions and guidance for those new to praying Scripture.
If you like lots of flexibility and designing your own plan, this one’s for you. It’s really more of a guideline of how much of the Bible to consume and how to break it down. You handle the specifics. “Read through the Old Testament straight through at least once a year. About three chapters a day should get you there…When it comes to the New Testament…Read one book at a time repetitiously for a month or more.” Also includes Dr. MacArthur’s brief instructions on how to study the Bible.
“This special Bible reading system allows you to read the entire Bible (or just the New Testament) in one year while only reading five times a week. Five readings a week gives room to catch up or take a day off to focus on other Bible reading or spiritual disciplines, and makes daily Bible reading practical and do-able…The Old Testament readings [except Job] are placed as chronologically as possible.”
“Over the course of a month, follow along with a reading plan…comprised of twenty-eight readings, offering a selection of passages that follow the broad narrative of Scripture. This plan stretches from Genesis to Revelation, making important stops along the way.” Geared toward new Christians.
“The Bible Reading Plan for Beginners takes into account the great number of people who do not have a strong background in the word of God. This plan gives you a stepping-stone so that you do not have to read straight through every word of Scripture the first time. It starts you with the basics. After you feel comfortable at this level, then you can go on to the entire Bible.
The Bible Reading Plan for Beginners is a plan for reading about 40% of the Bible in 170 days (about six months). In this plan, you will read much of the Old Testament story, every chapter in Psalms and Proverbs, the two gospels of Mark and John and several of the New Testament epistles (including Romans, Philippians, Titus and others). You will not read the details of the ceremonial law, lengthy genealogies or difficult prophecies.”
The idea of this plan is to show you how the New Testament fulfills the Old. “Starting at Genesis 1, this plan moves chronologically through the Bible, but when a weighty person, place or theme is mentioned, other parts of Scripture are read alongside to go more in depth with the person, place or theme. Thus there are both Old Testament and New Testament passages all year, but they relate to each other thematically.” Unique to this plan are special readings for certain holidays, such as Easter, Christmas, Advent, and more. This is a six day per week plan if you wish to finish in a year, but it is undated, so you can set your own pace. Readings take approximately 30 minutes each.
My friend, Pastor Nate Pickowicz’s latest book, How to Eat Your Bible, is a gem in the Bible study genre. This brief book is packed with great instruction on how to approach studying your Bible, and culminates with Nate’s seven year Bible reading plan, which you can customize.
A fascinating topical study. In 121 days you’ll learn how God works, teaches, and reveals Himself through people, including major characters of the Bible and not-so-major characters. Each day’s passage is linked so you can do your reading on site from the translation of your choice, or you can print out the chart to use with your regular Bible.
Can’t wait a whole year to get from Genesis to Revelation? Would four months work better for you? In this fast-track plan you’ll do three readings each day: one from Old Testament history, one from Old Testament poetry / prophets, and another from the New Testament. Each reading takes about 15-20 minutes.
Though it’s billed as a plan for new Christians (and it’s certainly an excellent plan for that), this would also be a wonderful plan to work through to help you present the gospel to others, or to suggest to a lost friend who’s open to learning the gospel. Day 1 starts with the Fall of Man. Then you’ll work your way through OT passages demonstrating our inability to keep the law, followed by NT passages from the gospels and epistles detailing what Christ did for us and how that applies to us for salvation and eternity.
“Over six months, this plan takes you through the New Testament from Acts to Revelation. This plan also integrates the worship and wisdom of Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes on a daily basis, for a balanced diet of instruction and intimate time with God.”
This handy dandy little algorithm allows you to design your own Bible reading plan. You choose the start date, the length of the plan, your language, your favorite format, which books of the Bible you want to read, which days of the week you want to read, and several other options, and the Bible Reading Plan Generator creates a custom designed plan just for you.
Bible Reading Plans for Children
(Need recommendations for children’s Bibles? Click here.)
Depending on the age and maturity of your child (especially teens), I would certainly recommend any of the plans above or in the “Collections” section below. Perhaps you would want to start off with one of the shorter plans or one of the plans designed for new Believers or those who are new to reading the Bible. That being said, here are a few plans that are billed as being designed specifically for children:
Through the Bible in 20 Days– “…intended to be a child’s first exposure to regular Bible reading…geared toward ages 8 to 10. It includes twenty days of reading to be spread over one month, with five readings done per week.”
Through the Bible in 60 Days– “…designed to be a child’s second exposure to regular Bible reading,” this plan builds on the 20 day plan (above). “…geared toward ages 11 to 13. It includes sixty days of reading. This could be spread over three months, with five readings done per week.”
100 Day Summer Reading Plan– Though dated for the summer of 2021, this plan could be used at any time of the year. It breaks down the main plot points of Scripture into seven sections in case your child needs a break between sections. More info. here. (Please note I have not vetted, and thus, am not recommending anything on this page except the reading plan. Zondervan’s theology has been sketchy at times.)
Children’s & Teens’ Bible Reading Plans– Dozens of plans of varying lengths that will take your child through various books of the Bible, Bible overviews, topics, etc. Several of the plans have a few reading comprehension style questions for your child to answer at the end of each day’s reading. I was not able to vet all of these due to the sheer number of plans, but the several I checked appeared to be doctrinally sound. There are also helpful hints for encouraging your child to habitually study the Word. Carefully vet any of the additional or supplementary resources recommended before using them. I am recommending the reading plans only.
Be sure to thoroughly vet (for sound doctrine) any plan or website before assigning it to your child.
Collections of Reading Plans
Need more suggestions? Check out these collections of Bible reading plans:
- Ligonier– A wide variety of plans, most available in PDFs.
- ReadingPlan– There are literally hundreds of plans to choose from (there was no way I could vet even a fraction of them, so be very discerning) in this great little app. Download the one you like (Settings>>Reading Plan>>View Available Plans), set your start date, link up your favorite online Bible, and start reading. You can even sync and share your progress and set a daily reminder for reading.
- ESV Bible– Here, you’ll find several good, “no strings attached” plans available in PDF format for easy printing. But if you sign up for a free ESV/Crossway account, you’ll have access to more than twenty great reading plans, many of them only 5-7 days in length. You’ll be able to read the day’s text, take notes, and track your progress, all online.
- Bible Study Tools– Some awesome “start any day you like” plans, ranging in length from ninety days to two years.
- Bible Gateway– Several great plans, especially if your church uses the Revised Common Lectionary or the Book of Common Prayer and you want to follow along at home. Log in each day and the selected text is displayed on your screen, or subscribe to your plan via e-mail. (Note: I would not recommend the Daily Audio Bible plan. It uses several different “translations,” which is an interesting idea, but while some are accurate, reliable translations (ESV, HCSB), others are faulty paraphrases (The Message, The Voice). However, many translations on Bible Gateway have an audio option, so pick another plan with a good translation and listen away!)
- Into Thy Word– A number of diverse plans, including one in large print, from 31 days to one year in length. Available in PDF or Microsoft Word formats.
- Heartlight– Five different one year plans that will take you through all or parts of the Bible. Daily passages are linked so you can read online, but translations are limited, so you might want to use the printable PDF guides with your own Bible.
- Blue Letter Bible– Several one and two year plans that cover the whole Bible. Available in PDF format.
- Bible Plan– Yearly and monthly plans, one chapter per day plans, and a few miscellaneous plans. Sign up for daily reminders for your plan via e-mail. These plans are available in many different languages.
¹Please note- I do not necessarily endorse all of the content of the websites linked above. These links are provided for Bible reading plans only. I do not endorse anything at any of these sites which conflicts with the theology outlined at my “Statement of Faith” and “Welcome” tabs at the top of this page. Should you choose to explore these sites beyond the linked Bible reading plans, please do so discerningly and reject anything that conflicts with Scripture.
The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?
The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it
Nine Helps for Starting and Sticking to Daily Bible Study
10 Simple Steps to Plain Vanilla Bible Study
Rightly Dividing: 12 Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Bible Study
Bible Book Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them
The Mailbag: As a newly doctrinally sound Christian, should I stop journaling? (Taking notes on the text of Scripture.)
Which plan looks most interesting to you?
Have a plan you love that isn’t listed? Please share!