Reading the Bible Cover to Cover

I have always wanted to read the Bible in its entirety. This has been a new year’s resolution for probably 10 years now, but I never could do it. I always found myself in February drowning in Levticus and calling it quits.

And then I realized maybe it wasn’t reading the whole Bible that I couldn’t do, but it was reading the whole Bible in a year. Maybe, maybe! if I allowed myself to go as slow as I need to, then I could finish it.

I started one normal non-resolutionary day in October 2011. I decided to highlight my plan as I went, crossing off the passages I’ve read and ignoring whether I was on the right week or day. It was about completion, not the amount of time it took me to get there. (Hmm, sounds vaguely familiar with another goal I recently accomplished….)

This is the 52-Week Bible Reading Plan I chose. I like that it had variety. Each day had a different type of book so I wasn’t bogged down in one section for a long period of time. (I did find it quite ironic that the Law section was on Monday. Couldn’t they have started the week off with something a little lighter?)

Most of the times I followed the chronological path of the guide, but sometimes I was so engulfed with a book, like Daniel or John, that I went rogue and spent the next few days finishing the book. This mindset of highlighting what I read really, really helped me, so if you’ve struggled with reading the Bible in its entirety, you may want to adopt this plan.

Here’s what my copy looks like at the end of this year:

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I loved this reading plan. It became a cherished routine in the mornings: wake up at 6, head out with my blanket, coffee and read my selected chapters for the day. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen a dozen or so pics of this routine in the morning. :) I finished the plan in the middle of January, so it took me about 15 or 16 months to complete it.

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One of my favorite parts of this plan was the way I saw the central theme of Jesus throughout the Bible. It was so cool to actually look for Jesus in it all. I saw Jesus in the sacrifices referenced early in the Old Testament. I Jesus’ perfect righteousness in the law. I saw Jesus in the prophesies. I saw the fulfillment of those prophesies in the Gospels, and the explanation of that life in the epistles. And finally Revelation, a book that has always secretly scared me, made more sense to me than ever as the finality of the story, written, but yet to pass.

I could go on and on. But I thought it would be fun to share a few superlatives from year studying the Bible.

Most Surprised-I-Enjoyed-It Book: Leviticus!
I know, who likes Leviticus? Well, I did. I had never spent any time in Leviticus after hearing it was a dull, boring book, but I found all of the laws really fascinating! Some of them were just outright weird. It was neat seeing how the Israelites in the olden days would atone for their sins and it made me so thankful that I have the blood of Christ to redeem my soul, and don’t have to perfect the law. Because there’s just no way I could ever!

Most Encouraging Book: 1 Thessalonians.
I read the whole book in one sitting and was so encouraged by the language Paul wrote to this church. You could tell he truly loved this group of people. Maybe my next challenge will be to memorize this whole book. How wonderful would it be to speak this kind of life into someone?

Favorite Passage I’ve Never Read Before: Job 40 – 42.
I had read parts of Job before, but never noticed this last chapter. What a beautiful, poetic passage on the sovereignty of God in creation and in our circumstances. You should read it. Right now. Go. This post can wait for you.

Favorite Gospel: John.
If there was one book I’d recommend for anyone who has never read the Bible, it would be John. (Oh, maybe Romans too!) The other gospels have a chronological plot, but John seems to elevate his story and share Jesus’ life with a bigger lens.

Most Practical / Instructional: Proverbs.
Tempted to cheat on your wife? There’s a proverb for that.
Struggling with your finance? There’s a proverb for that.
Want to raise obedient children? There’s a proverb for that.
Want to know the secrets to be a godly woman? Boom, there’s a proverb for that.

Hardest Book to Get Into: Chronicles.
How can you get into a book with nothing but names of who beget whom? Although, I did wonder if anyone had ever tried to make a family tree of all the generations listed in this book. I’d like to see what a pretty web of names that would make. I see the value of this book (Jesus’ genealogy tied all the way back to David, Abraham, Noah, Adam), but at the end of the day was the least enjoyable for me.

Favorite Prophet: Isaiah.
Oh, Isaiah, what a wonderful book! I love reading the specific prophesies of Christ and then reading about those fulfilled in the gospels. Isaiah makes me so hopeful.

Most Depressing Book: Ezekiel.
After enjoying Isaiah and Jeremiah, I thought Ezekiel would be similar, but the entire book was really depressing. Judgment, destruction, famine. Some days my heart felt so heavy I had to flip over a read a Psalm to light it up. The only redeeming verse of the book is Exekial 36:26- “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Predictably Awesome: Psalms
Need I say more?

Book with the Most Richness: Romans
Oh, Romans! I need to come back and saturate my soul in this book and its truths. The gospel is written on every line of this book.

Have you ever read the Bible in its entirety? What are some of your favorite books? Least favorite books? Have you ever read something profound you’ve never read before?

PS – This is goal #17 of my 30 before 30 list. 

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  • thanks for sharing, really insightful post. i liked that you also shared the parts you didn’t like! inspiring to see what someone else found after such a dedicated bible-reading project. now i’m motivated to start my own scripture reading project. :)

  • Congratulations! I have read the Bible cover to cover on one occasion several years ago. When I was attended Bible school, the president challenged all the students to read the Bible cover to cover in a month. He outlined a plan for us, but needless to say, it took me the better part of a year to get all of that reading done. I kept at it though and finally made it to the end. Like you, I often had to take breaks and flip to a passage that offered me encouragement. You definitely discover new parts of the Bible when you take on a challenge like this.

  • So inspiring. I am getting increasingly antsy about what to read and/or do each morning when I sit time to spend time with God. I might just try reading through the bible in a structured yet flexible plan. I love the Word and Romans is my fav. book in the bible and for all the reasons you stated and more.It is a powerful book filled with truths that are useful for everyday. It also has a lot of fighter verses and promise verses. I love Romans. Next would be Psalms.

  • That’s awesome!!! I just did this as well. I did “through the bible in 90 days” but felt like I missed out on so much. So I’m doing it again…at my own pace ;).

  • Yay! I’ve started over with my Bible in a Year reading plan again this year and am already falling behind… Thanks for the motivation! I think I’ll try reading at my own pace instead of trying to just check off the box!

  • I’m glad you shared this! Last year, I started a 1-year plan, but I also decided that reading it all was more important than the time frame. I’ve enjoyed it much more without the time pressure. Leviticus is my surprise favorite, too!

  • Gin, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.. I’m very proud of you and glad you disciplined yourself to read it in entirety. You’ve probably heard the old joke about the kid in Sunday School whose teacher asked, “It is furry, eats nuts and has a long tail that twitches – who can tell me what I’m describing?” and the kid answers “Jesus.” That of course is the wrong answer, but indeed the bible makes more sense when we remember the central character in redemptive history is there from cover to cover. When we can’t figure out a piece of the puzzle, what do we do? We look at the box-top to help us. I’m so glad you have discovered the same thing the disciples discovered on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 where Jesus himself essentially says “the whole book is about me.” You’ve got me itching now to go study I Thessalonians. Thanks for sharing. You are your Daddy’s great delight! (Always).