Reading the Bible in a year can seem like an overwhelming task. Many of us have read parts of the Bible or started reading plans, but never finished. And, we know that sticking to our plans is not always easy. Life gets busy, we get tired, we get confused by the text… We often have good intentions, but the follow-through is hard. That’s why I wanted to share 10 tips to help you successfully complete a 1-year Bible reading plan.
10 Tips to Help You Successfully Complete a 1-Year Bible Reading Plan
1. Before you begin, pray. And pray continually.
It can be tempting to just jump right in and start reading, but we must not forget to start with prayer. Grab your Bible, and before you start reading, ask God to help you understand His Word. Ask Him to help you stay focused and to remember what you read. Ask Him to give you wisdom and help you to apply what you read. Pray to Him about anything else you think of in regards to reading Scripture. Make this a daily habit.
2. Choose a solid Bible translation.
This is super important to consider before beginning a 1-year Bible reading plan. Just because a translation is offered on your favorite Bible app or website, doesn’t mean it’s a good one. Do your own research, but I recommend ESV, CSV, NIV, or NASB. Read portions of different sound translations to help you choose one that is relatively easy for you to understand. Stay away from paraphrases like the Message (MSG). They can be helpful at times for understanding the text, but they are not Scripture. Also, always avoid false translations like the Passion (TPT), which are not accurate translations at all. (See this article for more information on TPT or check out this post to do more research.)
3. Choose a plan that’s right for you.
There are many free plans to choose from on the Bible app or plans you can purchase from your local Christian bookstore. Of course, I recommend my book The Bible in a Year, which is a 1-year Bible reading plan focusing on God’s character. For five days out of the week, you’ll be reading directly from the Bible. The sixth day, you will focus on one verse from that week’s reading and read a short devotional highlighting an attribute of God. The seventh day is either a catch-up day (if you missed a day during the week) or an opportunity for you to focus on a passage of your choice that day. Check out my book, The Bible in a Year HERE and see if it looks like a good fit for you.
4. Track your progress.
My book, The Bible in a Year has writing space for you to track your progress. Whatever the plan you choose, most have a way for you to document what you’ve read. This is super helpful for staying on track and organized. However, be careful to not get legalistic about your time reading the Bible. It can be a fine line between remaining obedient to your time in God’s Word each day, even when you don’t feel like it and treating that time as something to just check off the list. Continue praying for a right mindset about how you approach tracking your progress.
5. Schedule designated time each day.
It is super important that we prioritize our daily reading time. When we let it become an afterthought is when we struggle to stick to the plan. Determine from the get-go that your time reading the Bible each day is a top priority and schedule it at a time of day that you can typically count on. Maybe that’s in the morning before classes start or the kids get up. Maybe it’s on your lunch break. Or, perhaps it’s after dinner sometime.
Scheduling designated time focused on your 1-year Bible reading plan also means accounting for the weekends, holidays, vacations, and simply those super busy weeks. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you start, but having a general idea of how you will stay on track when you’re outside of your normal routine will help equip you for success!
6. Prayerfully set boundaries for yourself.
Think and pray about under what circumstances you struggle the most to stay focused and mentally sharp. Sometimes we don’t always have control over that, but when we do, it’s important to set boundaries to protect our time in God’s Word. For example: There have been many times I’ve gone to my favorite coffee shop to work on my Bible studies. But, so often, I run into someone I know and get distracted. So now, when I know I need to have focused time in God’s Word, I stay home or drive to a park and sit in the quiet car.
That’s just one boundary of mine, but consider yours. Is your mind more sharp in the morning or evening? Set a boundary to avoid the times of day you’re less focused. Do you doze off when you sit and read in a comfy chair? Set a boundary to read at the table. Again, no need to get legalistic about this – a boundary is meant to help you, not to be an added burden.
7. Have an accountability partner.
Finding a loved one to do a reading plan with you is ideal. The last time I did a Bible reading plan, my husband did it with me and there were several times I felt like giving up, but because he was doing it too, I stuck with it… and finished! If you can’t find someone who wants to do a 1-year Bible reading plan with you, at the very least, find a family member or friend who is willing to be your accountability partner. Communicate to that person what you need from them. Would you appreciate a text once a week to see if you’re staying on track? Do you need them to help you stick to a boundary? Would you like them to ask you what you’ve been reading and learning every couple weeks? Do you want them to pray for you? Having a helpful buddy to encourage and motivate you to keep going can be a game changer!
8. Read out loud when you can.
Does your mind wander off when you just read in your head? Are you like me and find yourself getting distracted and re-reading portions over and over again? Engaging more of our senses and reading out loud can really help keep our minds focused. This is different from listening to a recording of the Bible, which can be helpful in its own way – especially if you have poor eyesight or have trouble speaking. But if you’re able, I highly recommend reading out loud when you can. (At least try it!)
9. Journal, but keep it brief.
It can be easy to fall into the habit of treating a 1-year Bible reading plan like something to check off the daily to-do list. We can start with the best intentions and still fall into this trap. When we treat our reading plans this way, we fail to reap all the benefits of daily time in Scripture. As a consequence, we often quit.
Journaling about what we read each day (or even just each week) can help us remember that reading the Bible isn’t just a legalistic ritual. It’s for our Spiritual benefit – to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding – and ultimately, to fall more in love with God!
Reading the Bible in one year is already an overwhelming undertaking for many, so keep your journaling goals attainable. My book, The Bible in a Year is a reading plan focusing on God’s character and has a few lines of journaling space for each day. When you finish your daily reading, write down one attribute of God that stood out to you. Or, journal one new thing you learned. Whatever you choose to journal, keep it brief to avoid having it become burdensome. Don’t underestimate how taking a quick moment to journal some key truths from your reading can add to the depth of your time in God’s Word.
10. Share what you read with someone else.
Get in the habit of sharing what you’re reading with others. It will be good practice for you to remember what you learned and process what passages you’re struggling with. It can also help with applying the truths you’re learning to your life. And of course, you won’t be the only one who benefits! Whoever you share with will get to hear about God and His Word and possibly be inspired to seek Him on his or her own!
Be encouraged! You can successfully complete a 1-year Bible reading plan!
I hope these 10 tips to help you successfully complete a 1-year Bible reading plan inspire you to make the commitment and do it! I may be writing this post in December for those of you New Year’s resolution planners, but if you’re reading this after the holidays, you can start a 1-year Bible reading plan whenever! Today is a great day for committing to reading God’s Word daily.
Be sure to check out my book, The Bible in a Year: A Reading Plan Focusing on God’s Character. I’d love to help you get into the Word of God, reflect on His character, and learn how to apply what you’ve read to your daily life!