Happy New Year! The beginning of a year is a great opportunity to make goals which can contribute to personal and spiritual growth. Allow me to suggest that a great goal for 2024 would be reading through the Bible in a year!
Here are some benefits of reading through the Bible in a year:
If you have never read through the Bible before, doing so in 2024 would not only give you the satisfaction of finally accomplishing this, but would expose you to the entire breadth of the Biblical story.
Whether you have already read the entire Bible before or not, reading it in one year will enable you to assimilate the Bible as one overarching story, thereby deepening your understanding of each of its parts, and helping you understand the overall message of the Bible.
If you have previously read the entire Bible before, reading it again and in a different translation will give you new perspectives.
As God has chosen to reveal himself in scripture by means of the Biblical story, reading through the Bible in a year gives you the opportunity to read the Bible as a story instead of as individual parts, and whilst doing so to see God as he reveals himself through this story.
Perhaps you are thinking, it would be great to read through the Bible this year, but that maybe too hard for me to do. Maybe you have tried before and foundered on the book of Leviticus in February.
As someone who has made the journey several times, let me assure you that reading through the Bible in a year is quite doable. Here are a few suggestions that can help you make the journey yourself:
Since the Bible is comprised of 1189 chapters (929 in the OT and 260 in the NT), if you only read 3-4 chapters a day, you can finish reading the entire Bible in a year.
Choose a set time in your schedule when you can commit a specific amount of time to read the Bible (say 20 – 40 minutes). Depending on your reading speed, attention span and the flexibility of your schedule to cover 3-4 chapters a day, you can, if necessary, choose to read twice a day (once in the morning and once at night). Also, feel free to just pick up the Bible and read at additional different times during the day that become available.
Perhaps obtain a new hard copy Bible that you will specifically be using to read through the Bible during the year, and which you can mark up and make notes in and observe your progress. Select a translation that is easily readable and which you will find interesting (perhaps because you have never read the Bible in that translation before).
Reading the Bible is different from studying the Bible. To read through the Bible in a year, you will need to be more engaged in reading the Bible than in studying it during the times you have set aside to complete reading it in a year. This means you won’t be doing deep dives into analyzing and applying the passages you are reading. But this has its own advantages. Firstly, it allows you to be passive before the text allowing it to act upon you and speak to you in unexpected ways, as opposed to your acting upon it by seeking to probe it for the meaning you are seeking. It also enables you to see the bigger picture and meaning God is conveying, which we tend to miss when we are focused too narrowly in an effort to go deeper. Your aim in reading is understanding the message the Biblical story is seeking to convey, as opposed to trying to obtain an insight from every passage.
Feel free to read the books of the Bible in any order that you choose. You don’t have to get stuck on Leviticus. You can defer reading the more difficult books until the end. However, once you start a book, read it through to the end, and keep track of what books you have finished reading, by checking them off in the Table of Contents or by some other means. It’s also okay to skim genealogies and repetitive lists (such as in Numbers 7).
Consider using a study Bible (e.g. the ESV Study Bible, or the NIV Study Bible, or the CSB Study Bible) as a reference guide as you read. You can read the study Bible book introductions to help you in understanding the background, context, and emphases of the individual book you are reading, and to look up passages you find difficult to understand as you read.
Read the Bible as a composite story that is made up of individual parts. As you read seek to see the big picture of the story that God is telling about his relationship with humankind and what it says about the kind of God he is and his love for us.
Hopefully, you will make reading through the Bible one of your goals in 2024. If you do, please let me know about your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org. My prayer is that 2024 can be a year in which you see God more clearly as he reveals himself to you through the Biblical story.
Peace and Love.